Calling all linguists!

The WNYC radio show The Leonard Lopate Show had “Word Maven” (blech) Patricia T. O’Conner visiting this week.  Around about 9:50 in the show, O’Conner argues (in response to Martin in New Jersey), that Americans didn’t lose a British accent, but rather 18th century “British Englishmen” spoke “pretty much the way we do now.”  Instead, the British accumulated their current accent “2 or 300 years ago”.  Martin then wants to know about American regional accents, which is a simple problem (regional specialization is produced “naturally” through “evolutionary” processes).  The more perplexing problem, at least for TS, is how British colonies, established before the 18th century, obtained an accent which is close cousin to the contemporary generic British accent (New Zealand was one example, I think).  Anyone have ideas?

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