First off: I am an American. I was born and raised in Louisiana.
Second: You might automatically think that I have the French/Acadian accent. I don't. (Not disappointing, I hope. :) )
You'll probably be surprised to learn that there are actually three distinct accents just in my home state alone. There is the 'north Louisiana accent', which almost sounds like the typical accent you'd hear on television, bar the fact that the southern influence is prominent in that most words spoken with this accent are slurred; the 'central Louisiana accent', which sounds a bit like the northern accent, however with a much more pronounced lack of "R's", a couple dozen "ya'll's", and, yes, the fact that we tend to use the word 'coke' as a general reference to all carbonated drinks. The third accent is in fact the ‘French/Acadian accent’. It can be found in the far, far south of Louisiana. Most people with this accent don't tend to travel and number very few in the relation to the general population of the state. Therefore, it is a mystery to me as to how it became a 'typical' Louisiana--southern, even--accent. The sad truth is that I have a lot of trouble understanding them most of the time--and they live only about 50 miles away from me! (For those you of you don’t use the American measurements, terribly sorry! 50 miles measures about 80 kilometers.)
If you can't tell, I have the central accent, myself. I've traveled across the states, and when people ask me were I'm from ... it's generally not that obvious, really. My accent is more of the usual drawl than anything markedly distinct. The following is an actual conversation I've had with a sales-lady in Colorado:
SL: "So, where are you from?"
Me: "I'm from Louisiana, ma'am. I'm visiting a few relatives."
SL: "Oh! Well, you don't have any accent at all."
Me: "Not many people do, where I'm from. It's a common misconception. I don't live in a swamp nor have an alligator as a pet, either ..."
This whole thing about the English Accent versus the American accent really just plain out cracks me up. I don't know how my accent comes across to those who don't speak it, and I honestly could not care less. (I might take offense, though, at being likened to a cat. However, I happen to love cats. So If I sound like that to you, then, I've got only one thing to say: Have at it, and compare me all you like!)
I do admit, however that my accent has become more pronounced as I get older. The situation from above has occurred less and less over the years. The truth is that I like having 'the southern drawl'. It might be 'country,' but I don't admit to being city either.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the standard American, but so too are there of the standard Britain. I don't know how I got from accents to stereotypes, but I suppose they have a lot to do with each other. Most stereotypes aren't a rule but merely a guideline; the same with accents. It is true the most Americans come off as rude ... but not all of them. Generally speaking, (and no offense meant) it is usually the New England Americans that are the rudest by far--and not in a cruel manner, but because they were simply raised to be rather blunt.
Please recall that I'm from the south, and manners vary greatly from region to region. While I was raised to always say 'yes, sir', 'no, sir', 'yes, ma'am', 'no ma'am'--most people aren't. I've come across quite a few people from the north that I thought as quite loud and rude, but one of my good friends is one of those mentioned. In fact, we help each other out quite a bit. While we are in the southern region, I teach her tact and the slang we use. While we are in the north, she teaches me to not apologize to every person I bump into, and to be firm: polite is not always the answer to certain situations.
Ah, I’ve gotten far off the topic at hand. How embarrassing. Regardless, all I really want to get across was that I’ve always thought most foreign accents are generally nice to listen to, but not something I’d want to have. I’m comfortable with how I speak, and I only wish more people were as well
Ah! One thing I forgot to mention. It's rather silly, but oh-so-true. (Don't know how I missed it, with all the wind I blew and space I took.)
People from the south generally hate (and boy, do I mean hate--you'd really offend a person calling them this face-to-face, even if they don't call you on it) to be called 'Yanks' by anyone. Yes, my brothers and sisters from across the sea, that means you. In some parts of the south, the Civil War is still a touchy subject. It's not the slavery issue; it's more of a pride thing. It still rubs some of those 'rednecks' the wrong way that the place they call home lost any fight, regardless of what the issue was.
I find that I just don't like the word in general. Who'd want to be called 'yank'? It just sounds funny on the tongue. :)
... Not to mention that I tend to think of the word as a verb, not a noun. It's like calling someone a 'hiccup' or a 'sneer'. It's just a little strange, that's all.
By the way, I mentioned this in good humor; please try not to take offense if I ruffled your feathers a bit too harshly. xD
Retired English Teacher