Map of American English dialects
Being born and raised in Southern California and living most of my life there (we moved to Central Ohio in 1997), I always thought that the “California accent” was so mild and flat that it hardly qualified as one at all. I still think that, though now that we’ve been living in Ohio for nearly 14 years, when I hear a fellow Californian speak, it’s distinctive enough for me to notice. Native Ohioans are a much different story. I can always tell when I’m speaking with someone who grew up here, especially when they say the words “boosh” (bush) and “poosh” (push). Another common one is that they say “Nerk a-HI-ya” for “Newark, Ohio.” There are other noticeable idosyncracies, to be sure. And I have no doubt that we Californians sound kind of odd to them, as well. Without question, the rise of popular television programs broadcast coast-to-coast, as well as Hollywood movies, not to mention the great increase in transience that followed in the wake of President Eisenhower’s Interstate construction initiative) contributed greatly to the general flattening of regional accents. We’re quite far away from anything resembling a homogeneous American dialect — I strongly doubt that such a thing could ever develop — but it seems to me that the regional quirks in dialect are slowly becoming, if I may be forgiven for putting it this way, less pronounced.