Investigating Outlander’s Americans – Introduction
Spoilers! If you aren’t up-to-date with Outlander don’t read this. But also, if you’re not up-to-date with Outlander, don’t read anything! Go catch up on Outlander!
Recommended for Time-travelling Bishes, Outlander Observesses, Historical Linguistics Hunnies, and American Dialect Divas.
This series is about the Starz melodrama Outlander, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon, about a woman from the 1970s who time travels to the 1770s to be with her hunky Scottish beau. If you don’t care about any of that, but are interested in learning about early American English, you’ll do fine. This series discusses what we know about how early Americans spake. But I really think you should watch Outlander though.
Like any good Outlander fan, I have a healthy dose of skepticism for the portrayal of the 1700’s. Of course, I’m not an historian- I wholeheartedly believed Roger’s teal and mustard-colored, velveteen shants-suit was historically inaccurate, but come on. That guy looked ridiculous.
But it turns out that the outfit was accurate and it motivated me to do some real research on some of my other questions about the show’s portrayal of the time.
- Why does Fergus have a lingering French accent despite being adopted to Scotland before puberty?
- How did Young Iain acquire Cherokee so quickly?
- Why does Phaedra, a slave in North Carolina, have a Scottish English accent?
- Why aren’t Claire, Brie, or Roger ever once questioned about their modern British, American, and Scottish English dialects? It would be so hard not to drop modern slang all over the 1700’s!
- Finally, are the American accents in the show anachronistic?
While these are all questions worth answering, for this series I’m only going to attempt to answer question 5.