Young people in Kansas are developing a new accent. Here’s what it sounds like

SALT LAKE CITY — There’s a new accent growing in rural Kansas.

Residents in a southwestern Kansas town have begun developing a new accent, thanks to the city’s changing population, according to

The accent, called a “Liberal accent” or “Liberal sound,” derives from Liberal, Kansas, a small town in Seward County that has about 25,000 people. About 59 percent of the town’s population is Hispanic (a jump from 20 percent decades ago), according to

Researcher Mary Kohn, a linguist, and her team at Kent State University recently identified the Liberal accent after years of research.

This doesn’t mean the town is using new words or applying specific meanings to certain things. Rather, the phonetics of the speech are different than other areas, Kohn said.

“A lot of these patterns are on the phonetic level, meaning that it deals with sounds,” Kohn said in a statement. “So what we are dealing with here is a distinct accent. It’s not so much that we have completely radical new ways of speaking in Liberal, as it is there is a distinctive Liberal sound that is emerging.”

Kohn told KMUW the new accent has a “Latino-English” sound and it’s more popular among young people. It started as the Kansas town’s population became a mix of Hispanic and white people.

“It dispels the myth of the idea that Kansas in a monolingual state,” she said. “That’s never been the case.”

In fact, Kohn released a video where she demonstrates the new accent, which prominently appears when speaking with “aaa” or “nnn” sounds. Most English accents change when pronouncing the “aaa” sound in “hat” or “hand.”

But for this language, “the sound doesn’t have a distinction in words like ‘hat’ and ‘hand.’ That’s because the mouth is still in an open-jaw position,” according to

Watch Kohn demonstrate the findings …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News


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