Mid-Atlantic Accent

The Mid-Atlantic accent, or Transcontinental accent, is a cultured accent of English combining together a variety of simultaneously the United States and British English that were deemed the most renowned by the initial 20th-century American upper class and recreation industry.


Often described as a “strange” or “odd-sounding” way of talking, many people seem to be unconscious of the mid-Atlantic accent. However, this classic accent served a big role in the initial American Cinema, and its use goes much furthermore. In reality, the Mid-Atlantic accent, also famous as Transatlantic, dates back to the early 1900s mainly procured by the American upper class and American players.

So, what makes the mid-Atlantic accent stand out from the remainder? The Mid-Atlantic accent is a cultured way of talking. In other languages, the accent didn’t gather from a particular place, nor did it occur naturally. It offers a deliberate mix of American and British English and favors not. What, then, resulted in the accent gaining popularity and becoming so widely used? Take a look at Creative Media Design in New York City.


While the Mid-Atlantic accent didn’t occur naturally, it was cultured into American Movie theater, as well as the American upper class. In the wordbook of cinema, many acting schools in the initial 1900s learning the accent as the norm, which is why numberless films, newsreels, and radio shows up to 1940s feature voices with the Transcontinental accent. Because the accent has since washed-out and humbled to fame, we frequently see the issue, “Why does somebody in an old movie talk weirdly?”

However, “weird” doesn’t do the accent any equity, as it was used by exclusive cultures like the above-mentioned upper class and political data such as Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the same way, many other data outside the enjoyment industry were also known for using the Mid-Atlantic accent, such as William McKinley, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Carrie Fisher. Though the use of the accent was abandoned considerably after World War II, some well-known data have customized it in more recent years, such as instrumentalist and producer Mark Ronson.


While we’ve referred to various big names who’ve enacted the Mid-Atlantic accent, various actors will be recalled for their ideal practice of the accent. The first name that comes to intellect is Katherine Hepburn, of course. Although intentionally adopted, Hepburn’s accent was liked by many, as were the accents of the well-known faces to follow. Check out the list of well-known voices, both ancient and recent, who further developed this elegant accent:

  1. Kate Winslet (in Titanic)
  2. Mark Hamill (as the Joker)
  3. Harry Shearer (several characters in The Simpsons)
  4. Brad Friedel
  5. Orson Welles
  6. Elizabeth Taylor.


Have you at any time watched an aged movie and being dumped off by the weird half-British, half-American accents employed by actors in the thirties and forties? If An Affair to Spot, Gone With the Wind, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s are all original American films, why is Cary Grant, Scarlett O’Hara, and Audrey Hepburn all characters like they’ve been binging on tea and crumpets?

The mid-Atlantic Accent was a form of speech taught in wealthy academies, with the East Coast, and in Hollywood Film Studios from the late nineteen until the mid-forties. Although most of its speakers – including Julia Child, Franklin D., and Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Bette Davis, and Norman Mailer – praised from the Northeastern United States, the accent they divided could barely be called a local idiom.

If you were to move down a Boston or New York City street in 1925, you’d uncover a comparable jumble of accents to the ones boasted by native New Yorkers today. There’d be very much of h-falling – the pronunciation of words like ‘human’ or ‘huge’ as ‘you-man’ and ‘yuge’ – and enough of that standard Brooklynite attraction found in phrases like ‘ovah theah deah.’ In fact, the only places you’d be likely to run into the Mid-Atlantic Accent at all might be the Upper West Side or other wealthy neighborhoods. There, somebody with times of individual education in r-less pronunciation and switching wh’s to hw’s (‘white’ or ‘which’ match ‘hwite’ and ‘hwich’) teemed. But very little, if any of them, talking that way naturally.


Why were all these wealthy people’s cultures incorrect-British accents? Starting at the beginning of the twentieth century, traditional theater actors were in the practice of paralleling upper-class British accents on stage. Many of them tracked the teachings of Australian phonologist William Tilly, who instituted a grammatically steady standard of English – called Globe English – that would ultimately come to “determine the sound of American conventional acting for almost a century (Knight).” Surprisingly, Tilly himself had a slight concern in acting. A language prescription, he bravely tagged World English a ‘class-based accent.’ In other words, it was intended to be used as a guide of a ‘well-read,’ ‘cultured,’ or ‘civilized’ person.

World English initially enticed some followers amongst New York City public school education staff and English-speech learners, but it would take an important cinematographic event for the accent to enter the general of society’s upper-echelons.

In 1927, Warner Bros. And the Vitaphone Company issued the very first aspect-length ‘talkie’ – a black and white movie called The Jazz Singer. The issue indicated the end of the quiet film period and the ushering in of sound movies. For the first time eternally, the sounds of cinema celebrities began to be heard on the huge screen. And many actors were less than excited by the added strain of outspoken performance. Clara Bow, a superstar of the twenties, famously hated ‘talkies,’ and in 1930, at only twenty-five years old, her occupation came to a sudden end when she was admitted to a clinic. Katherine Hepburn is also fighting the transition. As a result of anxiety blurting out her lines, again and again, she was dismissed from her first production in 1928.

Soon many actors, including Hepburn, were having speech classes to instruct their voices for the big screen. Then, in 1942, Edith Skinner – a Musical Advisory and undergraduate of William Tilly – issued a book named Speak with Distinction , which was the first coding of Tilly’s teachings and rapidly became the guidebook for Hollywood’s normal English.

Directors preferred the accent for its naturalness and finesse, which made it simple to use in films that were not set-particularly. Soon enough, control of the accent became a necessity for the actor’s effort to break into the field.

By mid-forty-something, though, Americans were no more purchasing the impartiality contention. The mid-Atlantic accent may have made it tough to tell what street somebody grew up on, but it was possibly a street with white picket fences and costly private schools.

Through the victory of a couple of progressive actors, notably shortage the mid-Atlantic accent – included Jimmy Stewart and Humphrey Bogart – Americans lastly began to see themselves reflexively on the big screen. Soon, the accent’s intrinsic racism began to be dismissed. By the late fifties, it had all but vanished.


Although the accent has far since lost its attractiveness, current film and broadcast do make casual nods to it, often at a previous time-marker or as a subject for simple irony. In Frasier, it’s for fun working with the snobbish Crane Brothers; in The Hunger Games, it’s utilized by Effie Trinket, an arrogant, over-the-top representative of the unnecessary upper-class. In Star Wars, Darth Vader’s intense bass variant of it is used to highlight his place as a higher power, and Highness Leia and Queen Amidala alteration the accent on and off, utilizing it only when they’re implicated in official legislative discussions; From American Terror Story: Hotel, serial murderer James Patrick March and his accomplice Miss Evers both have an upper-class score, which is used to score them as members of the 1920s upper class.

Whether you loathe the accent for its miserable pretension or adore its shrilling, all-triple sound, I think we can all concur about one thing: the period of their mid-Atlantic accent gave us some quite amazing cinema.

Janet Barrow writes around places where wording meets story, cultivation, and politics. She explored the Written Arts at Bard College, and her fantasy has been featured on Easy Street and Adelaide Journal. After two years in Lima, Peru, she was recently affected in Chicago.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the questions related to mid Atlantic accent that might help you out

Does anyone still have a mid-Atlantic accent?

Yes. Something comparable: Many native English speakers who spend a bunch of time in both the UK and the US build things like to it, with a variety of both some American range and a few British.

Does the Mid-Atlantic accent still remain?

According to philologist William Labov, the Mid -Atlantic talks fell out of support after World War II, as fewer teaching staff followed teaching articulation to their students. Now, the accent is quite booked for humorous moments relating to stifling, rich text.

Does the United States have accents?

You’ve probably heard the words “Normal American English,” for describing particular accents that lack distinctive sounds. Well, evidently, that’s not true. Every individual American has an accent .

Why did America miss the British accent?

The number one is isolation; initial colonists had only the occasional connection to the motherland. The second is an exhibition to other linguists, and the colonists came into touch with Native American linguistics, mariners’ Indian English language, and other settlers, who were speaking Dutch, Swedish, French, and Spanish.


Approved by the British and Americans, the Mid-Atlantic accent was developed to be recognized by both, which may have changed its original popularity in cinema. Whichever the case, the accent is still related to some extent today and is apparently growing in demand, as it’s again becoming asked after for several media productions Online Maters Education

Mid-Atlantic Accent is one of the known and upper-class accents adopted by the mixture of British and European English. It is not categorized as a regional accent but more of a cultivated adopted language that has been highly popular in the early 20th century especially in the Hollywood industry.


Language is the pillar of a geography’s culture and tradition. It expresses the beliefs, customs, values and notions. So as the accent is the identity of where you belong. They are adopted from cultural and custom expression. As society evolves, the dialects and accents also evolve simultaneously.


Pondering into the origin of Mid-Atlantic Accent, it has a rich history which can be indicated in England, Delaware Valley, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Eastern coasts and Southern parts of Central Jersey. According to the sources, when the Europeans settled in America in order to practice their religion freely, they brought their native language with them and the accent of British style. Residing here with Native Americans, it was difficult to communicate. So, rather than adopting the native language, they blend both the accents, retaining the proper aristocratic speech under the influence of King James Bible and William Shakespeare in the 17th century.

As more British colonists start to reside on East American coasts especially in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, so from here specifically, the inauguration of the Mid-Atlantic accent occurs.

In the 18th century, a movement was passed known to be the elocution movement which brought the importance of enhancing pronunciation and articulation skills. So, the plethora of private schools and public institutions started to teach students oratory skills through speaking classes and presentations which also contributed to inculcating the accent of Mid-Atlantic speech.


As the importance of pronunciation increases, it was highly adopted by the elite class especially politicians, lawyers and high caliber careers. The adoption of high-level stratification dragged it further into the Hollywood industry in the 1960s which is known to be the Golden Period of Cinemas and Theater. Impeccable actors such as Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelley and Kelsey Grammer, etc were the pioneers of flourishing the accent. It became so popular that it became mandatory in the movies to speak in that accent and the actors were taught to speak like that. Though it looked funny at some pronouncing words but overall it weighs how much wealthy class you belong to.


According to historical facts, the Mid-Atlantic language diminished after World War II as the importance of teaching pronunciation was ignored in the institution and eventually Elite classes started to dissociate themselves from that accent.


The common and useful characteristics of Mid Atlantic Accents are as follows:

  1. The dropping of the “r” alphabet in words especially when it doesn’t precede with a vowel. For example, dropping r in “winner” or “eager”,
  2. Use soft pronunciation in vowels such as calling “dance” as “dahnce” or saying “just” as “juhst”.
  3. Alphabet like “a” in “father” or “Salmon” would more sound like “fawther” and “sawlmon”.
  4. Polysyllable words ending with these schwas (suffixes such as -ary, -ery, -ative, -mony, -ory and -erry etc) are pronoun as "eri , etiv, moni, ori and eri"
  5. It has quasi or twak British elements into that.
  6. Usually, the alphabet “T” is pronoun as “D”. For instance, the word “soft” is pronounce as “sofd”,
  7. A touch of vague British-y accent was prominent.
  8. Speakers prefer flowing out a breath through the mouth rather than both mouth and nose.
  9. Pronouncing “t” sharply so it clearly sounds like “t”. For instance, pronouncing "Butter", not as “Budder”.
  10. According to Edith Skinner, each vowel has a pure sound so the change in the pronunciation or speech can diminish its purity and causing the vowels to be Diphthongization.
  11. Actors usually preferred using words starting with “wh” in the throaty and gruff way.
  12. The speakers avoid using glottal stops to make them more attractive.
  13. "U" needs to be pronounced as “YOU”, not as “O”. For example, “Tune” will sound like “TYOUN” or saying "Super" as “SYOUPERR”.


The famous Mid-Atlantic Accent movies that you can practice are as follows:

  1. Citizen Kane (1941)
  2. Ladies of Washington (1943)
  3. Duchess of Idaho (1950)
  4. The Major and the Minor (1942)
  5. The Harvey Girls (1942)
  6. The Palm Beach Story (1942)
  7. Romance on the High seas (1948)
  8. Easy to wed (1946)
  9. Boeing Boeing (1965)
  10. It happened on 5th Avenue (1947)


To be honest, it doesn’t use by people anymore. If it does, it is being used in theatre performances of the 60s era in a humorous way.
Mid-Atlantic Accent was never close to reality. It was highly expressed in films but not in real-life due to the funny accent it creates. It means that the accent was made-up and taught, not naturally adopted. So, if you speak with this Accent, people would probably make fun of you.

Looking into modern movies, we can still find some Mid-Atlantic vibes in the antagonist characters especially in animated Disney movies and Science Fictions.


Mid-Atlantic Accent is an impeccable skill to learn and develop. Though it is not preferable to speak in ■■■■■ or everyday life but would be great in theater films and cinemas.

WW II has been a game-changer for the world so as for the societies, cultures and traditions. It causes a great shift in them which loses the Golden Period of the European world as well as taking away the richness of the old era and the language respectively. Although it was the fall of the 60s era but the rise of the new generation has brought more realism and relatability.