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Old March 11 2013, 09:24 PM   #21
Location: Kentucky
Re: old english accent was closer to American southern accent

Not all the vowels shifted quite soon enough. "Varsity" sports froze the previous pronunciation of "university", as did Southern "rasslin'" (now a regular feature on the SyFy channel). "Wrastling" was preserved because the people who wrassled weren't the ones reading and writing about it. My dad once looked through one of my tree-finder books for a local plant called "sarvice-berry". The closest the book listed was something called "service-berry" so I asked him how he used to pronounce "service". He immediately said, "goods and sarvices." (I grew up three miles from Cumberland Gap, where Daniel Boone came through to Kentucky).

I once memorized about 30 minutes of the Fagles translation of the Illiad and used to crack my friends up by starting out with a sonorous, Harvard voice - "Rage, sing the rage of Peleuses son, Achilles" then kick into a deep, deep Eastern Kentucky hillbilly accent for certain characters. Imagine a deep woods hick saying "So tell me, Agamemnon..." kind of like Festus on Gunsmoke, but worse.

There is a version of Shakespeare done in what is as close to the original accent as linguists can get, and some of the non-rhymes become rhymes again. I think it might be on Youtube.
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