*

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


AMC’s rotate does such a good job with character accents. It really seems choose they shot to have the colonials speak with a combined English / American hybrid. Come me it appears as authentic together it could be and due to the fact that everyone came from various parts of the old civilization just a pair generations before, they all would have had different accents. The Virginians seem to be the trickiest though.

You are watching: Did george washington have a british accent

I have actually read several wonderful biographies ~ above George Washington over the years. All of these functions do an excellent job of describing the personality and an effective persona of this American hero. Even though the camera would not be developed until about 1830, there are plenty of life choose portraits and sculptures that offer us a pretty great vision that what George Washington looked choose through the different periods of his life. With his writings throughout the war years and his Presidency, we develop an understanding of how he thought around the problems of the day. The books he read, his favourite drinks, even the sort of females he liked can all be discovered in the thousands of pages written about him. There has constantly been one price that has actually eluded me – What did the sound like? go he have an accent favor an brothers or did that sound like a southern gentleman?I asked the historians at the mount Vernon legacy & Gardens to help me find an answer :

Dear Brian,

Thank you for making use of Ask mount Vernon!

I apologize because that this so late response, however the question showed a stumper.

In 2005, on the Linguist perform , Herbert frederic Stahlke (Professor of English, ball State University), whose study area is “languages” wrote, in an answer to a question similar to yours:

“GW to be born in 1732, in ~ a time once there wasn’t a clean ‘American accent’. We start seeing referrals to “American English” around 1750. Washington would most likely have spoken an upper course English that could have had some similarity to contemporary Virginia Tidewater, but he would have actually sounded distinctly various from anything you would consider Southern today. ”

I uncovered nothing about Washington’s decided in standard biographies, so ns spoke v Ed Lengel, Editor, The documents of George Washington (University of Virginia). We agreed the the information you’re seeking will most most likely be discovered in language / linguistic sources. Unfortunately, our library repertoire is limited in this area.

I did, however, find some pages indigenous David Hackett Fisher’s ALBION’S SEED: 4 BRITISH FOLKWAYS IN AMERICA (NY: Oxford university Press, 1989) that offers some insights. “Virginia speech Ways: English beginnings of the southern Accent” begins on p. 256. While an are prohibits me from transcribing the entire chapter, i here encompass some of the most relevant passages:

“Before the American Revolution, travelers indigenous the northern nests had started to express surprise at the speech methods of the Chesapeake provinces…Even more startling to north travelers was the language of Virginians. In 1773, a young Princetonian called Philip Fithian came south to teach at Nomini Hall, the good Carter plantation close to Richmond. In his journal he explained the language that he heard there;

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

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

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

These Virginia speech means were not created in America. They derived from a household of local dialects that had actually been talked throughout the south and west that England during the seventeenth century. Practically all peculiarities the grammar, syntax, vocabulary and pronunciation which have actually been noted were tape-recorded in the English counties of Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Oxford, Gloucester, Warwick, or Worcester…”

If you great to continue your study into early on American dialects, the complying with book–which you have the right to locate with your regional library–is a great starting place:

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

I hope this answer provides some advantageous information.

Sincerely,JoanJoan StahlHead Librarian

Unfortunately we will certainly never understand for certain what George Washington’s voice sounded like, but we do recognize that whether he to be on the battlefield, in congress or be sure in one “ordinary” he always commanded respect and also admiration once he spoke. I will certainly not abandon the hunt and also will continue to research study further and I will certainly short article my findings.

See more: What Is The Importance Of The Coefficients In A Balanced Chemical Reaction ?

If you are in search of some excellent books on George Washington, I have actually three favourite that come to mind. Ron Chernow’s “Washington: A Life” is an excellent cradle to grave biography and also “Washington’s Crossing” by David Hackett Fischer reads favor a an excellent adventure novel. David McCullough’s 1776 is a quick read with lots of price quotes from common soldiers and consists the activity of the most vital year the the revolutionary war.