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19 Answers

Darwin's avatar

He had an American accent (well, a colonial accent before the war, and an American accent after). However, what that sounded like is anybody’s guess.

Bobbydavid's avatar

In every film I’ve seen him in, American !!
Can anyone truly know for sure unless there are numerous diaries describing his accent as whatever it was. My guess native American

johnny's avatar

I heard he spoke in pig Latin.

MrGV's avatar

We won’t know 100% unless we bring him back from the dead.

jackfright's avatar

curious about this as well, gq :)

Les's avatar

He probably spoke in an accent, as all people do, but it more than likely didn’t sound anything like what we, today consider “English” or “American”. While at least two of his grandparents were born stateside (as well as his parents), his language influences were from the states, but considering where the colonists came from (and even one of George’s greatgrandfathers was born in England), I’d say there was probably still somewhat of an “English” influence to the spoken language. In order for an “accent” to develop, it has to be sequestered from its mother language for a while. So at that time, the states had been separated from England for long enough, but with influences in the family and around him, I’d think that there’d still be some sort of English “accent” to his speech.

aprilsimnel's avatar

By the time George Washington was born, hardly anyone in the colonies spoke with an “English accent” (of which there are dozens, BTW), as people were either several generations removed from England, or not English to begin with.

Even the Southern English had had a major change in the way they spoke.

I would imagine that he spoke with an early version of an American Southern accent (of which there are several today), as he was born and raised in Virginia.

marinelife's avatar

In brief, he spoke a localized version of the dialect of Southern England. By the time of the Revolutionary War both the American version and the original English had begun modifying. Here is a brief excerpt from a very interesting piece worth reading in its entirety for a clearer understanding:

“Let’s move on to a very different dialect. From 1642–1675 the Royalists, also called Cavaliers, fled from the south and southwest England with their indentured servants and settled in Virginia when the English Civil War against Charles I began. They brought with them their south England drawl (a drawing out of the vowels); they also brought such phrases as aksed (instead of asked), and ain’t (instead of isn’t). Royalists later settled the Carolinas as well. Southern English speech laid the foundation for the development of American Tidewater speech, or Coastal Southern English.

A large number of features distinguish southern dialects as a group from their cousin dialects in the American north, as well as from modern British dialects in the south of England.

—the classic Southern drawl, caused when vowels become long or diphthongalized: house = ha:wse, eggs = ai:gz; some words even contain triphthongs: flowers. [fla:ierz]

—loss of final t, d after another consonant: an(d), tol(d)

—first syllable accented (rather than the second) in such words as: guitar, insurance, July, police, elope, etc.

—yall for you all

—bucket, not pail”

Bobbydavid's avatar

I reckon he was half Chinese half Irish. The accent mustve been truly amazing

jackfright's avatar

@Bobbydavid wtf did that come from?

susanc's avatar

@Marina: This is fascinating, especially the fact that “asked” as spelled was pronounced “aksed”.
We currently attribute this pronunciation to the present-day Black community as one example of their having a separate culture. It appears from this article that it’s a holdover from the Brit immigrants who taught English to enslaved Africans. I wonder if some white Southerners still say “aksed” in honor of their noble ancestors.
I also read in an excellent book by Jim Lehrer of all people that a lot of the “Southern accent” we find so charming was shaped very strongly by the way Africans pronounced English. Many White Southerners are mortified to know this. Ha ha on them.

mammal's avatar

doubtful

Yetanotheruser's avatar

We obviously don’t know what George’s speech sounded like (especially with his wooden dentures); but I believe it was around the same time that Daniel Webster came up with the first American dictionary, with differences in spelling and some usages from “the King’s English”.

@Marina @susanc I have witnessed that usage ( aksed instead of asked), both in the black community as well as among many white southern speakers.

Darwin's avatar

George Washington did not actually have wooden dentures

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@Darwin my comment about wooden teeth was meant to be tongue-in-cheek

Darwin's avatar

You left out the ~

Yetanotheruser's avatar

~!

better late than never~~

timc1998's avatar

i dont think he had any part of an english accent if only 1 of his great grandparents was born in england all of my great grandparents and i think one of my grandmas was born in italy and i dont have any of an italian accent 100% american accent

wilma's avatar

I would love for @ Marina to explain my Michigan accent. How fascinating!

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