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The more quickly authenticated portrait of George Washington reflects him wearing his colonel’s uniform the the Virginia Regiment native the French and also Indian War. The portrait was painted around 12 years after Washington’s organization in that war, and several years prior to he would reenter military organization in the American Revolution. Oil ~ above canvas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


AMC’s turn does together a great job v character accents. It really seems choose they try to have the colonials speak v a blended English / American hybrid. To me it seems as authentic together it could be and since everyone came from different parts that the old civilization just a couple generations before, they all would have had various accents. The Virginians seem to it is in the trickiest though.

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I have actually read several excellent biographies ~ above George Washington end the years. Every one of these functions do terrific job of explicate the character and an effective persona of this American hero. Even though the camera would certainly not be invented until approximately 1830, there are numerous life choose portraits and sculptures that offer us a pretty great vision that what George Washington looked choose through the various periods that his life. With his writings during the battle years and his Presidency, we build an expertise of exactly how he thought around the concerns of the day. The publications he read, his favorite drinks, even the kind of females he liked can all be found in the hundreds of pages written about him. Over there has always been one price that has actually eluded me – What did that sound like? walk he have actually an accent choose an englishman or did he sound choose a southern gentleman?I request the historians at the mount Vernon legacy & Gardens to help me find solution :

Dear Brian,

Thank you for using Ask mount Vernon!

I apologize for this so late response, but the question proved a stumper.

In 2005, on the Linguist perform , Herbert freder Stahlke (Professor of English, ball State University), whose research area is “languages” wrote, in response to a question comparable to yours:

“GW was born in 1732, in ~ a time once there wasn’t a clean ‘American accent’. We start seeing referrals to “American English” about 1750. Washington would more than likely have spoken an upper class English that could have had actually some similarity to contemporary Virginia Tidewater, however he would have sounded distinctly various from anything friend would take into consideration Southern today. ”

I found nothing about Washington’s decided in conventional biographies, so i spoke v Ed Lengel, Editor, The records of George Washington (University the Virginia). We agreed that the details you’re seeking will most likely be found in language / etymological sources. Unfortunately, our library repertoire is limited in this area.

I did, however, locate some pages indigenous David Hackett Fisher’s ALBION’S SEED: four BRITISH FOLKWAYS IN AMERICA (NY: Oxford university Press, 1989) that gives some insights. “Virginia speech Ways: English origins of the southern Accent” begins on p. 256. While space prohibits me indigenous transcribing the whole chapter, i here encompass some the the most relevant passages:

“Before the American Revolution, travelers from the northern swarms had begun to express surprised at the speech methods of the Chesapeake provinces…Even much more startling to north travelers to be the language of Virginians. In 1773, a young Princetonian named Philip Fithian came south to teach in ~ Nomini Hall, the great Carter plantation near Richmond. In his newspaper he explained the language the he heard there;

‘The human being here pronounce Shower ‘Sho-er.’–And what in New-Jersey we call a Vendue below they speak to a ‘sale’–All taverns they contact ‘Ordinarys’–When a equine is frolicsome and brisk they say he is ‘gayly.’-‘…

The Virginia language was also distinctive in the pronunciation. In place of new England’s harsh, rapid, rasping, metallic whine, Virginia’s speech was a soft, slow, melodious drawl the came no from the nose however the throat. Virginians had tendency to include syllables where brand-new Englanders subtracted them. Collection sounds were prolonged, embellished and also softened as in ha-lf for half, gyarden because that garden, ke-er for care, holp because that help, puriddy for pretty, fuust for first, Aah’m for I’m, doo because that do, and also the spectacular wah-a-tah-mill-i-an because that watermelon. …

Consonants were likewise softened and prolonged, together in sebem for seven, chimbly for chimney, vahmint because that vermin, holt because that hold, mo’ because that more, flo’ because that floor, fo’ because that four, dis for this, dat for that, challenge for there, ax for ask, go-in’ because that going, perserve for preserve, foller because that follow, yaller for yellow, acrost for across, wunnerful because that wonderful, mistis because that mistress, and wid or wud for with. Redundancies to be added, as in you all or y’awl for you….

These Virginia speech ways were not invented in America. They derived from a family of local dialects that had actually been spoken throughout the south and also west the England during the ten century. Basically all peculiarities the grammar, syntax, vocabulary and pronunciation which have been detailed were recorded in the English counties that Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Oxford, Gloucester, Warwick, or Worcester…”

If you wish to proceed your study into at an early stage American dialects, the complying with book–which you can locate through your regional library–is a an excellent starting place:

The Cambridge background of the English Language: English in north America By man Algeo (NY: Cambridge college Press, 2001)

I expect this answer provides some valuable information.

Sincerely,JoanJoan StahlHead Librarian

Unfortunately we will certainly never know for sure what George Washington’s voice sound like, but we do know that even if it is he to be on the battlefield, in conference or be safe in one “ordinary” he always commanded respect and admiration when he spoke. I will certainly not give up the hunt and also will continue to study further and I will certainly write-up my findings.

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If you are looking for some excellent publications on George Washington, I have three favorite that concerned mind. Ron Chernow’s “Washington: A Life” is an excellent cradle come grave biography and also “Washington’s Crossing” through David Hackett Fischer reads prefer a an excellent adventure novel. David McCullough’s 1776 is a fast read v lots of quotes from common soldiers and consists the activity of the most crucial year of the revolutionary war.