Is There Such a Thing as Not Having an Accent?
By Arika Okrent
Even the staunchest dictionary-thumping pronunciation stickler has a regional inflection. Still, accents that are more common can sound neutral.
In the U.S., that title belongs to the General American accent, which you probably know from the nightly news. There’s nothing neutral about it: General American resembles the accent spoken in a small swath of the Midwest, stretching from eastern Nebraska through Iowa and parts of western Illinois. It doesn’t sound funny to many of us simply because we’re so exposed to it. But if the standards change, it may sound weird one day.
And standards do change: Just watch a classic movie. The old silver screen accent, the Transatlantic accent, sounds outrageous today. But at that time, it was considered neutral. In a decade or two, our current standard could also go out of style, revealing that it was an accent all along.