Episode 70 (How American English Got Its Start)

Karen Burgos

In this, the 70th episode of Paul’s In a Manner of Speaking podcast, we learn what Colonial American English might have sounded like. Paul examines this fascinating and understudied topic with Karen Burgos, a freelance linguist, independent researcher, and founder of Ace Linguist, a truly valuable blog.

Karen’s articles on “Indie Girl Voice,” “Colonial American English,” and “The PIN-PEN merger” have educated many netizens on the English sound changes of yesterday, today, and maybe even tomorrow. Her focus on historical linguistics, language in popular media, and sociolinguistics makes for insightful commentary on all matter of variation in the English language.

To read her complete Dialect Dissection: Founding Fathers blog, click here.

The original Broadway cast recording of “My Shot,” from Hamilton:

The original Broadway cast recording of “Is Anybody There?” from 1776:

And here is a clip from John Adams, starring Paul Giamatti. (Catherine Charlton dialect-coached the mini-series with attention to historical accuracy.):

For a free download of Paul’s The Original Pronunciation (OP) of Shakespeare’s English, which predates the dialects discussed here by about 100 years but is still present in many of the sounds, click here. And don’t forget to listen to the September 2023 episode of In a Manner of Speaking, with David Crystal, which is a nice companion to this month’s episode.

Lastly, Paul mentions a holiday discount on his Accents & Dialects for Stage and Screen Deluxe Streaming Edition and a free recording of his audiobook reading of A Christmas Carol. Those are available from November 20, 2023 through January 5, 2024.


(Bach’s Cello Suite #1 in G Major BMV 1007 Prelude (by Ivan Dolgunov) is courtesy of Jamendo Licensing.)