[Ads-l] childhood accent development (UNCLASSIFIED)

Mullins, Bill CIV (US) william.d.mullins18.civ at MAIL.MIL
Mon Jul 13 17:19:06 UTC 2015


Asking for help here . . . 

One of my interests is conjuring/sleight-of-hand.  A specific puzzle I think about a lot is "who wrote _The Expert at the Card Table_" ?  (which is a seminal book on sleight of hand with playing cards)

Nominally by S. W. Erdnase, this name has long been assumed to be a pseudonym (reverse it for an obvious name -- E. S. Andrews).

I've recently been going round-and-round with a British magician who has proposed that a Chicagoan, Harry Thompson, wrote the book.  I find his theories lacking for a number of reasons.  One of them is what I'm hoping the readership here can help me with.

The illustrator of the book was interviewed in the 1940s, some 45 years after working on it.  He remembered the author as not seeming to be a native Chicagoan, and seeming to be from "the East" or NYC, presumably from his accent.

I've suggested that Thompson, born and reared in Chicago, wouldn't have left this impression. My British colleague says that Thompson's parents came from NY State and Massachusetts -- "What makes you think Harry would have a different accent to the rest of the family?"

My own experience and anecdata make me think that.  I know many kids of 1st generation immigrants whose accent reflects the place they grew up, rather than their parents' foreign accents.  I have a middle Tennessee version of a Southern dialect, reflecting where I was raised; my parents are from rural areas of TN that have distinctly different accents (to my ear).  Huntsville, where I live, is full of people who came here from elsewhere in the country for work at the local army base and NASA; their kids, with whom my son goes to school, tend to have North AL accents rather than whatever accents their parents have.

Is there academic literature on this?  Do kids tend to have accents that reflect the locale of their childhood, rather than accents that reflect where their parents may be from?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list