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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 208

I incline to agree with White that the contrary is the case. The nasal twang which Englishmen observe in the vox Americana, though it has high overtones, is itself not high pitched, but rather low pitched, as all constrained and muffled tones are apt to be. The causes of that twang have long engaged phonologists, and in the main they agree that there is a physical basis for it—that our generally dry climate and rapid changes of temperature produce and actual thickening of the membranes concerned in the production of sound.  8 We are, in brief, a somewhat snuffling people, and much more given to catarrhs and coryzas than the inhabitants of damp Britain. Perhaps this general impediment to free and easy utterance, subconsciously apprehended, is responsible both for the levelness of tone of American speech, noted by Krapp, and for the American tendency to pronounce the separate syllables of a word with much more care than an Englishman bestows upon them. “To British ears,” says Krapp,  9 “American speech often sounds hesitating, monotonous and indecisive, and British speech, on the other hand, is likely to seem to Americans abrupt, explosive and manneristic.” The American, in giving extraordinary six careful and distinct syllables instead of the Englishman’s grudging four, may be seeking to make up for a natural disability. Marsh, in his “Lectures on the English Language,” sought two other explanations of the fact. On the one hand, he argued that the Americans of his day read a great deal more than the English, and were thus much more influenced by the spelling of words, and on the other hand he pointed out that “our flora shows that the climate of even our Northern States belongs … to a more Southern type than that of England,” and that “in Southern latitudes … articulation is generally much more distinct than in Northern regions.” In support of the latter proposition he cited the pronunciation of Spanish, Italian and Turkish, as compared with that of English, Danish and German—rather unfortunate examples,