Of course, no one thinks that they have an accent. It's just everybody else who talks funny, right? And it's only when you live somewhere else that you begin to hear your particular way of pronouncing words, that is, an accent.
The equivalent in America to the British "Queen's English" is a Twin Cities accent, like mine. It seems very strange that even though it's by far the minority in how words are spoken in the United States, it's what is heard on every radio station, and every television, in America. It's as if everyone woke up one day and said, "hey, we want America to sound like people from Minneapolis!"
Outside of the Twin Cities is the classic "Minnesota accent" as done so masterfully by actress Frances McDormand in the movie Fargo. She was doing an accent of the Brainerd area of Minnesota, and it was perfect. If you listen carefully to the movie, you will hear a variety of accents. Some of the accents have a strong Scandinavian feeling to them. I'm old enough to remember hearing neighbors in Minneapolis who were only first or second generation Scandinavians. They were the ones who said, "I yust go nuts at Christmas!" and "Valking in my vinter undervear!"
But my accent was influenced by the people around me in Minneapolis, most of whom spoke, well, like the "man on the six o'clock news". Some people in Arizona have even asked if I was a radio announcer. No, I'm from Minneapolis, and have been a teacher, and I try to enunciate carefully, that's all.
The best place to listen for a Minnesota, or a midwestern accent, is in the letter A. If you want to sound midwestern, say my name with a very flat A, like this, Braaaaaaad. That flat A, by the way, doesn't exist in Spanish, so my friends in California who mostly spoke Spanish couldn't hear it, or pronounce it. To them, I was "Bread". Hence my nickname, "Pan", and "Pan Duro". Spanish speakers will get that.
I was fortunate to have been raised with a Twin Cities accent. My students have never had any difficulty understanding me, with one exception. I had to stop using slang. Ya know, you betch'a!
Posted by Brad Hall