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Speaking American

A look at American Linguistic History and Development


Shawn Nelsen

            Why is it that Americans do not speak with an English accent? Is British English better that American English?  Although for quite a long time the American colonists viewed themselves as British citizens Americans speak English in a unique American manner. This difference has lead to debates as to which style of English is more proper as well as lead to many historical comments as to the simple differences between the two forms of the same language.  Aside from the differences between British English and American English, there is also America’s distinctive linguistic history.  As colonists came to the new world they not only encountered a rich non-English native culture, but often brought their own non-English culture with them.   Moreover, sociopolitical elements within the colonial culture further helped to drive a wedge between the English spoken in the British islands as opposed to the English spoken in the North American colonies.  Whether or not one form of English is in fact better than the other is not important for this paper, however it is important that people have recognized that there is a difference; a difference caused  by America’s unique linguistic history.  In other words, although the colonies were for the most part British, through the colonial development of non-British linguistic and cultural norms, along with the coming together of non-British peoples, North American colonialists had, in fact, developed an independent use of language long before they developed an independent nation.

            The North American colonist predominantly considered themselves to be British citizens and spoke English accordingly. Antonio Pace, for instance, wrote that “the first settlers in America were in their own minds Englishmen, and Englishmen they would remain at least until the Revolutionary War.”[1] The colonists who left England, for the most part did not do so to escape the English way of life, but merely to improve their own.  As the colonists arrived in America they “proudly retained that militant devotion to personal independence and the sanctity of individual property that was thought to be the hallmark of the Britons.”[2] The colonists felt pride in the fact that they were British. Furthermore, many of the American colonist did not even truly intend to come to America when the left their home, but instead ended up in the colonies after all other options seemed spent.  Aside from the Puritans, several of the American settlers came to America only as the natural progression of a familial movement system that already existed in England.  Workers and families often left home to find their fortunes in the nearby, or far off, British country side.  As the American frontier opened, though, workers saw an opportunity to come to America in order to obtain cheap land and a more hopeful future.[3] 

Additionally, the fact that the New World resembled England in many ways helped to draw people to the colonies.[4]  The colonists living in America followed many of the same customs, imported many of the same products, and had many of the same social values as the people in England.  Language, moreover, as an ideal is conceived as “the key to culture” and undoubtedly the concept that a potential colonist could effectively communicate with other British Americans helped in the decision to cross the Atlantic.[5]  Essentially, the majority of the colonists viewed themselves as British through and through, and took pride in who they were.

Although the average British colonist was proud to be British, by the mid 1700s he did not speak as the British.  Contemporaries quickly realized that the manner of English spoken in the colonies differed from the English spoken in the home islands.  The colonists that lived most their lives in a British manner had lost the British style of speech.  Already by the middle of the eighteenth century speakers of “broad” English, apparently referring to a British style of extending vowel sounds, and speakers of English dialects stuck out in a crowd.[6]  Often owners of runaway indentured servants indicated the manner or style of English spoken as a way of identifying the run away.  One advertisement in Boston News Letter, for example, claimed that “Samual Downs, a Man-Servant, aged about 25 years…speaketh broad English.”[7] The fact that one of the ways of identifying an individual was to point out that he or she spoke with a broad English accent shows that by the time the owner of the indenture placed the advertisement, on June 10th 1706, the people of Boston already spoke a noticeably different dialect of English than the newly arrived British indentured servants.  Furthermore, by identifying Downs’s English as “broad,” the writer of the advertisement indicates that others reading the Boston News Letter would have recognized “broad” English when they heard it.

While the newly arrived Britons spoke with an English accent, the colonists then had an American accent even though they still considered themselves British.  In Briton, during the same time as that the colonization of North America started to really take off, social observers started pushing for the standardization of the English tongue. The reason being that across the British Islands people spoke many different accents and dialects.[8] Some dialectologists argue that the different British dialects serve as the sources for American English.  As these dialects mixed together in America they began to fade, being replaced by an American accent.[9]  The secretary to Maryland’s governor wrote that the “pronunciation of the generality of the people has an accuracy and elegance that cannot fail of gratifying the most judicious ear.”  He wrote this, not only because he could clearly understand and enjoyed the speech of the colonists, but also because the Colonist’s English lacked the strong influence of the British regional accents.[10]

Aside from the mere speaking of a different accent, or dialect, the colonist also used different words than the British.  One of the major areas for linguistic development happened to be in agriculture.  Many of the crops grown in America differed, in one way or another, from the crops grown in England.  Indian corn, for example, had many different new words developed in order to describe the American method of farming.  Travelers from Briton noted words such as cobbing, laying-it-by, and sucker as words of interest.  One traveler by the name of Parkinson wrote that American famers, after plowing, “sucker them; that is, take off any young sprouts that have tillered; otherwise the corn will not grow in the ear to its proper length or size, but grow short- what they call ‘cobbings’.”[11]  All of these new agricultural terms only proved interesting to Parkinson as he traveled in the colonies because the British did not use them in Briton.

Another crop that became the source of many different new words in the British colonies was tobacco. A man by the name of Smyth who had traveled from England listed several of the varieties of tobacco as Shoe-string, Frederick, thickset, Orronoko, Hudson, and Sweet-scented.  Another British traveler by the name of Jones wrote of some of the other tobacco verities in his journal claiming that the land “when hired is forced to bear Tobacco by penning their Cattle upon it; but Cowpen Tobacco tastes strong, and that planted in wet marshy Land is called Nonburning Tobacco, which smoaks in the Pipe like Leather, unless it be of good Age.”[12] The varieties of tobacco, in of themselves, as a new world crop became part of the colonial English lexicon.  One Briton commenting on the amount of new words in the colonies wrote in 1754 that an explanation of the new American language is need.  The man claimed that it is “high time to publish and interpretation of West India phrases, which will soon become so current among us, that no man will be fit to appear in company, who shall not be able to ornament his discourse with those jewels.”[13]   This new American jewels that the man referred to inevitably helped to give colonial English part of its individuality from the English of the British Islands.

The manner of one’s speech carried with it much of one’s colonial social status.  As the colonists came to American they knew that better speech meant higher social rank.  Having the ability to speak clearly, confidently, and inelegantly, for example, often helped to ensure political or social success.[14]  In addition, what colonists said, and how they said it, held such importance to colonists that in some colonies specific laws dictated what could and could not be said.[15] Wealthy colonialist, aware of the importance of speech, therefore, sent their children to school in order to emulate urban British speech.  The colonist new that upon learning to speak more proper and clearly, as defined by the English of the imperial center, they could then gain social mobility. For the most part the colonist succeeded in their goal of improved English.   As he traveled the Chesapeake area during the early years of the Revolution a man by the name of Nicholas Cresswell, wrote that the North Americans “in general speak better English than the English do.”[16]  Although this may be odd, one must take into consideration that Cresswell, in his statement, referred to the average American as compared to the average Briton. 

Another way that the American colonist used language to influence social status involved the partial removal of social status by avoiding the English title system. Formal titles of dignity such as Duke, or Sir rarely took hold in America.  Moreover, when one did receive a formal title it had little to do with his birth right.  Alexander Hamilton traveling in 1744 along the Hudson wrote that it “is a common saying here that a man has no title to that dignity unless he has killed a rattlesnake.”[17] Hamilton’s comment leads to the belief that along the Hudson men needed to earn their dignity, for no one would simply hand it to them.  In this manner titles such as honorable, or judge held up in America only because an individual had to earn that title.  Part of the reason that the American colonist dropped the formal titles involved the concept of social mobility.  If a man had to be born into dignity in order to be a member of the social elite then the vast majority of Americans had no hope of ever obtaining social grandeur.  However, as the colonists soon discovered, if one abandoned the born titles and adopted the earned titles then Americans gained the ability to achieve social greatness. 

Although some Americans learned to use language for social mobility upward, others experienced language as an obstacle to be overcome, or as a tool to keeping them in a lower social status.   Native Americans, enslaved Africans, and Non-English indentured servants all had to overcome the social significance of English in one way or another in order to assimilate into, or deal with colonial society.  These attempts created mixed results that in some cases lead to a successful experience with English, while in other created more difficulties. Nonetheless, the experiences that these not British people went through play an important role in the development of North American linguistic history.  One must not forget, for example, that when the British first arrived in the new world native people already inhabited the land. The many different tribes with their individual languages and cultures all had a part in the development of America’s culture and linguistic history.  Furthermore, colonists imported vast amounts of slaves from Africa. These African captives not only brought with them a valuable labor source, but also many unique cultures and languages that had a further impact on the American social and linguistic development. Lastly, returning to the dominant European source of emigrants, people migrated from non British European countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, and France.   All of these non-English groups had different experiences with English and its social significance.  Furthermore, The Native Americans, enslaved Africans, and non-English European emigrants all eventually adapted to the use of English in their own way.  With this said, aside from the development of a new vocabulary for practical cross Atlantic differences, the mixing together of many different cultures and peoples helped to change American linguistic history as well as create an Americanized version of British speech.

The number of Native Americans that lived in the eighteenth century British North American colonies is very hard to determine, however, the Native Americans did play a significant cultural role.  British colonists used Native Americans as trading partners, teachers, slaves, and guides.  Furthermore, colonists made a conscious effort to teach the Native Americans about the European religious ideals. The colonists also fought with the Native Americans over varying issues and had to find ways to effectively end the fighting via mutually understood treaties.  All of these cultural interactions forced the colonists to come up with a way to effectively communicate with the Native Americans, whether through teaching the Native Americans English, or learning to speak Native American Languages.

Americans did borrower some words from Native American languages, but for the most part the words American quickly replaced the words with Americanized equivalents.  The word maize appeared in English by 1555, however colonist quickly started using ‘Indian Corn’ as an alternative.  Alexander Gill, a London schoolmaster, wrote in 1619 that “from the Americans we have borrowed several words, as maiz Indian wheat, and kanoa a light boat from a tree trunk hollowed out by fire and flint.”  By 1807, however, a New York physician commented that the previously borrowed words such as maize had been archived away as only a book words.[18]

            Although for the most part colonists showed little interest in learning Native American languages, they did nevertheless put in some effort to learn in hopes of accomplishing missionary work.  Colonists published twenty-seven books of linguistic interest during the seventeenth century.  Of those twenty-seven books, twenty-three of them dealt with Native American languages.[19]  Colonist published translations of the bible along with guided for those interested in preaching to Native Americans.  The publication of Native American Linguistic literature slowly decreased, however, as many British colonists found it very difficult, unnecessary, and culturally undignifying to master Native American languages.[20]

            One of the ways that colonists found they could speak with Native Americans was through the use of translators.  The well known stories of the Plymouth interpreters Samoset and Squanto are good examples of the important roles that interpreters played in early colonial life.  For much of the seventeenth century in the New England colonies Native Americans played the role of interpreter so that the Indians could effectively teach, trade, and negotiate with the English settlers.  The fact that most settlers had a very hard time learning the nuances of the Native tongues, however, did not stop all of them.  Settlers such as Thomas Mayhew, Jr. and Daniel Gookin found that they could contribute significantly to the well being of the colony by mastering the native languages.  Thomas Mayhew even taught the native languages to his son who died before he was able to put the language to any good use.  These white translators, though, played a very minor role as many of the native tribes did not give white translators much faith and many white colonists did not put in the effort to learn the native languages.[21] 

            As the need to communicate with Native American became ever more prevalent, British colonists eventually followed the Spanish model for linguistic assimilation into the use of the dominant language. Although Historians today often point out the differences between the way that the Spanish treated their native population and the way that the English treated theirs, linguistically the two European colonial powers had much in common.  The Spanish, when it came to the administration of their colonies, used Spanish as the main administrative language.  The Spanish, like the English used interpreters at first, but then quickly expected the indigenous people to learn Spanish.  One of the ways that the Spaniards promoted the use of their language was by placing administrative officials in large urban areas. The officials figured that if they conducted important official business in Spanish in the midst of a vast population then the language would naturally diffuse throughout the rest of the less urban population.[22]  The Spaniards obviously obtained their goal as the vast use of the Spanish language in Latin America will contest to today.

            Even though the English colonists did not have to deal with the same size population as the Spaniards, the English, nevertheless, attest to the universality of the Spanish assimilation method by essentially forcing the Native Americans to learn English. Even the missionaries emphasized that “Christianization included assimilation into the English speaking culture.”  A writer by the name of John Eliot wrote in 1666, for example, that “the English Language is the first and most attainable Language which the Indians learn, he is a learned man among them, who can Speak… the English Tongue.”[23]  Eliot, of course, wrote under the assumption that the Native Americans needed to learn English and not visa-versa.

On several levels, the Native Americans did have to learn English and did so relatively well.  Allen Walker Read, in a quick study of the use of English among Indians, commented that the Indians often showed a better aptitude for learning English than did the white non-English speakers.  Read reviewed many advertisements in contemporary newspapers that asked for the return of run-away indentured servants or slaves.  Among the advertisements for the retrieval of runaway white servants the writers of the advertisement often commented that the servant spoke bad, or broken English.  The advertisements for the revival of Native American slaves, though, more often than not stated that the slave spoke good English.  Read argues that Native Americans spoke better English than many of the whites because of their lack of contact with any sub dialect of English.  Read wrote that it “appears that a race speaking a wholly alien tongue will sometimes learn the standard form of a new language rather than the dialect or substandard form that they might be supposed to come in contact with.”[24]  Although Read may have a point, one might also find that the colonists could have had a higher expectation for white Americans to speak good English.  What may have been good English for a Native American at the time, may have been poor English for a white indentured servant.  Nonetheless, as time went on the need for translators faded away as the Native population learned to speak English and eventually make the language their own.

            The Native Americans were not the only population forced to learn English because of the British colonists, the enslaved African also had to learn the English tongue.  Between the years of 1720 and 1760, the population of slaves in the Chesapeake colonies rose from one quarter to 40% of the population.[25]  Many of the slaves that worked in the Chesapeake fields had been brought directly from Africa or been imported from the island colonies.  These slaves definitely had their own rich culture before the colonists had them imported to America and often aspired to maintain aspects of that culture after they arrived in America. To the detriment of Africans’ cultural struggle, however, the white slave owners expected the slaves to adapt the English language.

African culture and language differed vastly from that of the British colonists. Even after the Europeans took the slaves across the Atlantic they still worked to effectively maintain their cultural and linguistic heritage.  One man from the British Royal Society named Dr. Hans Sloane had the opportunity to document an example of the uniquely Americanized African culture that the slaves had created when he visited Southern Jamaica in 1688. Sloane pointed out that there were “several languages-pidgin, English, French, at least two (and probably more) unrelated African tongues [and] three discrete musical styles…”[26] One can see, then, that even thought the Africans unwillingly traveled across the Atlantic, they did not leave all aspects of their native culture behind.  Since many Africans often arrived in America not speaking any English at all one can imagine that their English level did not surpass that of the Native Americans. Furthermore white masters purposefully supported a distinct dialect of English among African slaves.  Portraying his feeling about the level of speech among the slaves in 1746, a southern traveler by the name of Edward Kimber wrote of the problems he saw with the white children playing with the black children.  Kimber claimed that one thing “they are very faulty in, with regard to their Children, which is, that when young, they suffer them too much to prowl amongst the young Negros, which insensibly causes them to imbibe their Manners and broken Speech.”[27]  In the English view that good language skills meant upward social mobility, the slave holders figured that in ensuring that the African slaves gained no language skills, they also gained no social mobility.

            Many of the advertisements requesting the return of runaway African slaves, like the advertisements used for the hopeful return of Native American slaves, used the level of English as a manner of identifying the slave.   One advertisement in the Georgia Gazette from 1766, for example, asked for the return of “a stout able NEGROE FELLOW named King…; he don’t speak English enough to tell his master’s name.”[28]  Although the newer slaves obviously had no English, time, along with the condition of their stay in America, insured that they quickly learned to speak with the colonists.  Some slaves even managed to pick up “pretty good” or tolerable” English within two to three years of their arrival in America. Another advertisement from a Weekly News-letter in Boston, for example, offered a “Negro Boy about Fourteen Years of Age, that has been in the Country about Two Years, he speaks very good English, To Be Sold by Lately Gee…”[29] The time that it took Africans to learn English, along with the variety of levels at which the saves could speak English changed on a case by case basis.  Since there is no clear uniformity in the African assimilation of the English tongue then one must assume that each case depended on an assortment of conditions.  These conditions could include the amount of English that the slave owner exposed the slave to, the availability of the slave to speak his or her native language, and the individual’s linguistic aptitude as well.  The colonist essentially forced the Africans to learn English in the most brutal of manners.

            While the British colonists more or less forced the Native Americans and African slaves to conform to the British linguistic standards, not all non British new arrivals to the colonies learned English because they had to.  Many of the non English speaking individuals that came to North America did so because of their own free will.  These individuals included indentured servants that willingly signed up for their servitude as well as other non English European emigrants, such as the Germans and Dutch, which simply came to America for the same reason as the British.  Furthermore, some of these individuals banded together actively keeping their native tongue, finding little need to learn English.

            Many of the indentured servants that made their way to the British colonies had to learn English upon their arrival. They came from various European countries however the majority of them appeared to have been from the Netherlands or from the German states. One advertisement from the 1729 Pennsylvania Gazette, for example, asked for the return of a runaway “Dutch servant man, named John Adam Herner, about 20 years of age, talks very bad English.” Another advertisement from the 1767 Pennsylvania Chronicler paints a more interesting picture. This advertisement asks for the return of “two Dutch servant men, one named Charles Geisinger, about 27 years of age… speaks no English at all.  The other, named John Michael Rider…25 years of age…; he speaks broken English, but is a great talker…  They… came last fall from Lisbon, can talk Dutch, French, and perhaps Portuguese.”[30] These two advertisements offer and interesting insight into colonial linguistics.  First and foremost, one finds evidence that servants coming to America did not always speak English. Second, one finds that even though they did not speak English, they could often speak a variety of other languages such as Dutch and French.  Lastly, although the majority of indentured servants that could not speak English spoke Dutch or German, their master posted the advertisements for their retrieval in an English language news paper.  This last fact indicates that the people that bought the servants could have been bilingual themselves.  Bilingualism explaining why they may have had the ability to both post an English advertisement and communicate with their non-English indentured servants.  No matter what way one looks at it, these advertisements paint a much more linguistically colorful picture than the simple notion that those living in the British colonies only spoke English.

            Some of the non-English colonist banded together to create their own settlements. The two best example of this phenomenon are the colonies of the Dutch and Germans.  Each of these two colonies, though linguistically related in the eyes of the British colonials, had a different level of success in maintaining their non-English culture.   While the Germans managed to maintain their use of the German language and their ties back to the German states, the Dutch more or less, quickly became part of the English speaking world.[31]

One of the main reasons for the lack of Dutch success rested in the fact that the Dutch did not have an integrated social structure set up to support their culture.  Each Dutch community lived in almost a vacuum and stayed interested in not much more than the territory and people that directly surrounded them.  This isolationism not only left them far separated from the Dutch homeland, but also left each Dutch settlement separated from the other Dutch settlements.  The Dutch did have a small religious revival in the 1720, however, this created no long lasting effects.  What truly made the Dutch culture last at all was that the Dutch people had their own notions of faith and marriage property.  Furthermore, as one Dutch pastor named Heinrich Melchior Mühlernberg put it, like “all other nationalities, [the Dutch] have a special love for their mother tongue.”  However much the Dutch valued their own language, though, by the mid eighteenth century the Dutch used their own language only at home and amongst themselves. The more wealthy Dutch families had already started conforming to the English legal system by the 1730s and where the rich went, the poor had no choice but to follow.[32]

            The Germans, unlike the Dutch, managed to keep up their culture and language as a prominent aspect of their lives in America.  Many, many Germans came to America for a variety reasons.  They not only migrated on their own accord, but colonist actively reached out to attract German migrants.  In the 1740’s, for example, Dutch traders that transported increasingly large numbers of Germans “on credit” had advertisements published along with agents posted in Frankfurt to help attract German emigrants to the North American Colonies.[33]  These Germans planted themselves everywhere from the Chesapeake to New England.  One German mercenary wrote in 1780, for instance, that in “Charleston one meets people of all nations of Europe… the Germans are resident here in large numbers, and they speak their mother tongue better that I have ever heard Germans speak in America.”[34] One may take from this statement, though, that this mercenary might not have visited Philadelphia.

The influx of German immigrants had a prominent cultural affect on the social life of Philadelphia in particular. Based on the a German printing presses, German religious reform, and the vast amount of German people, one man by the name of Mühlenberg even wrote to one of his collogues that Philadelphia became the center of a new German world.[35]  By the 1760s the Pennsylvania area had anywhere between 110,000 to 150,000 Germans.  The vast amounts of Germans lead to the belief that they would be able to maintain their language and cultural independence forever.[36]  The Germans, however, did not take full advantage of their political power.  Benjamin Franklin blatantly attacked the German political stance in a letter that he wrote in1753.  According to Franklin, the Germans “who come hither are generally the most stupid of their own nations… Not being used to liberty, they know not how to make a modest use of it… they are not esteemed men until they have shown their manhood by beating their mothers, so these seem not to thing themselves free, till they can fell their liberty in abusing and insulting their teachers.”  Although Franklin had his own reasons for disliking the Germans, his observance of their lack of political interest appears to be founded.[37]  The Germans, with their large population could have taken control of the Pennsylvania assembly if they had tried.  Instead of uniting to exercise political influence, however, they eventually let the political power fall to the Quakers.[38]  So, although the Germans had greater numbers and unity than did the Dutch, they two eventually became English speaking Americans like the rest of the colonists.

 Although Franklin may not have showed much liking of the Germans, that is not to say that he and his contemporaries showed no interest in languages other than English.  Colonists, as a matter of fact, showed a high level of interest in other European languages. This interest in European languages helped non-English European immigrants to encompass a higher linguistic social status then their Native American and African counterparts.  While the majority of colonists shows little interest in learning Native or African languages, educated interest in other European languages proliferated throughout the colonies.  Spanish, Italian, and French, for example, are some of the European languages that made the voyage across the Atlantic to the British North American Colonies.

British colonists had a limited interest in the Spanish language.  Even though the English and Spanish fought many wars, abundant trade between the English colonies and the Spanish still existed. As a result of this trade, the exchange of dictionaries and grammars increased significantly.   In 1751 a man by the name of Garrat Noel became the first Spanish grammarian in North America after he issued A Short Introduction to the Spanish Language.  Works such as Noel’s along with great Spanish works became parts of the libraries of wealthy individuals.[39]

Other colonists became interested in learning Italian or French.  Italian, for instance, became an instrument of the refined and educated.  Many American doctors studied in Italy schools to learn their trade. Moreover, many colonists began to show a strong interest in Italian singers and instrumentalists.  By the 1770s contemporary newspapers show that Americans had developed a strong desire for formal education regarding the Italian language.[40]  As for French, there are many well know speakers and translators including Benjamin Franklin, Philip Freneau (for the State Department), John Quincy Adams, Joel Barlow, Jefferson, Noah Webster, and Charles Brockden Brown are but to name a few.[41]  One man named John Eliot wrote to his friend in 1782 that “it is necessary to talk French, or you would be a stranger in the streets of Boston.”  Another writer planning and academy in 1786 wrote in a Baltimore newspaper that “French is the language most generally used. Boys should be taught to speak and write it with fluency and accuracy, after which they will seldom have cause to regret the want of other modern tongues.”[42]  This post revolutionary interest in the French Language, however, had more to do with the American gratitude for French help during the war for independence than it did with actual proliferation of French.

Although there are a number of prominent Americans that had acquired the French language, that is not to say that French, or any other romance language, became a wide spread language in the British Colonies.  Jefferson made reference, in 1785, to “our country where the French language is spoken by very few.” [43] The truth of the matter is that the romance languages, such as Spanish, Italian, and French, became the interest of prominent Americans, without taking true hold on the average American citizens.  In the vast majority of the cases the people living in America either spoke the language of their home country, or English. Knowing multiple languages became more of an impressive social fete than a contemporary necessity.

The way that individuals speak and communicate has a profound and deep routed significance in their day to day lives and should have a significant historical meaning as well.  While the British North American colonies moved forward with their eventual independence, they had already developed their own unique linguistic behavior. Americans actively studied speech and took advantage of their opportunity to consciously improve their linguistic skills.  Through their efforts Americans enabled themselves to take advantage of language as a social tool and helped to differentiate themselves from their European counterparts.  Moreover, Americans had to deal with the assimilation of speech by the Native Americans, African slaves, and non-English immigrants.  These foreign pieces, placed into what could otherwise be considered a British mix, played a significant role in helping to define American linguistic and cultural patterns as different from the British.  Since the need for differentiation is important for the eventual creation of a separate nation, the unique American language must have helped in the establishment of the need for colonist to become Americans. While the pre-revolutionary colonists may have viewed themselves as British, long before they revolted they had already started speaking American.




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[1] Antonio Pace, “Italian in Colonial America”, The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 60, No.3. (March, 1976), 109-115, 109.

[2] Jack Greene, Pursuits of Happiness: The Social Development of Early Modern British Colonies and the Formation of American Culture  (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988),  93.

[3] Bernard Bailyn, The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction (New York: Vintage Books, 1986).

[4] Daniel Vickers, Farmers & Fishermen: Two Centuries of Work in Essex County, Massachusetts, 1630-1850. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), 31.

[5] Richard R. Beeman, “The New Social History and the Search for ‘Community’ in Colonial America”, American Quarterly, Vol.29, No. 4. (Autumn, 1977),  pp.422-443., 436.

[6] Although there are many references to the term “broad” in referring to a British dialect, a contemporary definition of the how “broad” English differed from non-broad English in the eighteenth century is not apparent.  To make up for this gap in understanding one can look to a modern definition of “broad” in order to come up with what could hopefully be a suitable difference.  This method, however, is inherently imperfect as language changes with time.  Nonetheless, as no other method of determining exactly what the advertiser meant in describing runaways’ speech, a modern definition will have to suffice. 

[7] Allen Walker Read,  "The Assimilation of the Speech of British Immigrants in Colonial America." Journal of English and Germanic Philology, no. 27 (1938): 70-79.

[8] Paul K Longmore, “"They ... Speak Better English Than the English Do": Colonialism and the Origins of National Linguistic Standardization in America”, Early American Literature, Vol. 40 Issue 2. (June 2005)., p279-314., 285.

[9] Marianne Cooley, “Emerging Standards and Subdialectal Variation in Early American English”, Diachronica, Vol.9, No. 2. (1992)., 167-187., 168.

[10] Paul K Longmore, “"They ... Speak Better English Than the English Do": Colonialism and the Origins of National Linguistic Standardization in America”, Early American Literature, Vol. 40 Issue 2. (June 2005)., p279-314.

[11] Allen Walker Read,  "The Comment of British Travelers on Early American Terms Relating to Agriculture." Agticultural History 7, no. 3 (July 1933): 99-109.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Longmore, 295.

[14] Sandra M. Gustafson. Eloquence Is Power: Oratory Performance in Early America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000).

[15] Spindel, Donna J. "The Law of Words: Verbal Abuse in North Carolina to 1730." The American Journal of Legal History 39, no. 1 (January 1995): 25-42.

[16] Longmore, 281.

[17] Allen Walker Read, “Words Indicating Social Status in America in the Eighteenth Century”, American Speech, Vol.9, No. 3. (October, 1934), 204-208., 205.

[18] Allen Walker Read,  "The Comment of British Travelers on Early American Terms Relating to Agriculture." Agticultural History 7, no. 3 (July 1933): 99-109.

[19] Raoul N. Smith, “The Interest in Language and Languages in Colonial and Federal America”, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol.123, No. 1. (Feb. 20, 1979), pp. 29-46.; According to this same source “English spelling books, grammars of classical language, and other books related to language were being imported from England.”

[20] Raoul N. Smith, “The Interest in Language and Languages in Colonial and Federal America”, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol.123, No. 1. (Feb. 20, 1979), pp. 29-46.

[21] Yasuhide Kawashima, "Forest Diplomats: The Role of Interpreters in Indian-White Relations on the Early American Frontier." The American Indian Quarterly 23, no. 1 (winter 1989): 1-14.

[22] Ricardo Cierbide, “Enseñanza Del Español en la América Colonial: Venezuela en el Siglo XVIII”, Revista de Filolgia y su Didáctica, n. 20 1998, p 475-502. 

[23] Raoul N. Smith, “The Interest in Language and Languages in Colonial and Federal America”, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol.123, No. 1. (Feb. 20, 1979), pp. 29-46., 30.

[24] Allen Walker Read, “The English of Indians (1705-1745)”, American Speech, Vol. 16, No. 1. (February, 1941), 72-74.

[25] Green, Pursuits of Happiness. 83.

[26] Richard Cullen Rath, “African Music in Seventeenth-Century Jamaica: Cultural Transit and Transition”, The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 50, No. 4. (October, 1993), pp. 700-726.

[27] Allen Walker Read, “The Speech of  Negroes in Colonial America”, The Journal of Negro History, vol. 24, No.3. (July, 1939), pp. 247-258., 249.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Allen Walker Read, “Bilingualism in the Middle Colonies, 1725-1775”. American Speech, Vol. 12, No. 2. (April, 1937), pp. 93-99.

[31] A.C. Roeber, “The Origin of Whatever Is Not English among Us: The Dutch-speaking and German-speaking peoples of Colonial British America.” Strangers within the Realm, (1991): 220-283.

[32] Ibid., 235.

[33] Ibid., 245.

[34] Ibid., 257.

[35] Ibid., 253.

[36] Glenn Weaver, “Benjamin Franklin and the Pennsylvania Germans”, The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 14, No. 4. (October, 1957), 536-559., 538.

[37] Benjamin Franklin may have had a variety of reasons for disliking the Germans, however Glenn Weaver leads one to the belief that Franklin disliked the Germans because of their competition.  The Germans had many different printing presses that Franklin had to compete with.  Furthermore, Franklin believed that the Germans had political alliances that differed from those of the average American.

[38] Glenn Weaver, “Benjamin Franklin and the Pennsylvania Germans”, The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 14, No. 4. (October, 1957), 536-559., 541.

[39] Merritt Cox, “Spain and the Founding Fathers”, The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 60, No. 3. (March, 1976), 101-109., 103.

[40] Antonio Pace, “Italian in Colonial America”, The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 60, No.3. (March, 1976), 109-115.

[41] Paul M. Spurlin, “The Founding Fathers and the French Language”, The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 60, No.3. (March, 1976), 85-96.

[42] Ibid., 87.

[43] Ibid., 88.