Accent reduction is one of the many services that the English Island offers to non-native English speakers throughout Metro Atlanta. Accent Reduction classes teach business professionals the Standard American Accent, the patterns of inflection and intonation used by newscasters and other television and radio personalities throughout the United States. Because of its widespread adoption in media, the Standard American Accent has also become the standard of oral communication preferred by American businesses.
The American Standard Accent is a construction. It is an affected accent, an approximation of a stereotypically “Midwestern” accent that is adopted by both native and non-native English speakers in an attempt to sound generically “American.”
The reality is that there is no singularly American-sounding accent. Not only are there substantial differences among the various geographical regions of the United States, there are noticeable differences within those regions as well. For example, native Georgians can possess dramatically different accents. A person who spends his or her entire life in Atlanta will most likely develop a very different-sounding accent than a person who lives in a more rural area. Even inside these broad categories, a speaker’s accent might vary depending on exactly where and under what circumstances he or she grew up.
Thus the Standard American Accent is usually negatively-defined. It is described by what it is missing, not by what it includes. It excludes, for instance, the vowel-shift of Northern cities and the phonological features of Southern American English. By removing the features most strongly-associated with various regional accents, the American Standard Accent attempts to create a speech pattern that is easily-understood by the vast majority of Americans, regardless of what region(s) of the United States they hail from.