According to multiple social media users, the US-born Duchess of Sussex spoke in a British accent as she was greeting the public in Cheshire, which is featured in a viral video posted on Twitter.
Fans claimed that they heard a distinct “proper” form of English, termed “received pronounciation,” in the way she pronounced such small talk phrases as "Oh thank you" and "What's your name?" Some persons took a step further accusing Markle of "faking" the British accent:
Meghan Markle’s fake British accent makes me so uncomfy.— Kiara Provenzano (@Kiara_Pro) 7 июля 2018 г.
She is an idiot. She needs to be herself & not try to be british. She is an AMERICAN & not of Noble decent. She is faking it for the cameras AN ACTRESS https://t.co/vCzIV5blS9— Victoria VanDorn (@vandornv) 7 июля 2018 г.
However, according to a professor of linguistics, Dennis Preston from Oklahoma State University, cited by Yahoo, there is nothing British in the way she pronounces vowels; for instance, more prolonged ones would immediately give the game away. He said that it is mainly the listener’s brain that does the tricky job:
“She married an Englishman, she lives in England, she’s hanging with the Queen, and people think, ‘Gosh, she must be doing something with her language,’” he said.
He went on to note that if she had really adopted the accent in the very short time she’s been living in England, she would draw US linguists like a magnet to study her as a “strange phenomenon,” but this doesn’t happen overnight, he concluded.
The reason for such amateurish conclusions lies in the way the human brain is interconnected, Preston said. As people speak quickly, our ear doesn’t have the time to decode every single element, with the rest of the work being carried out by the brain, “which gets in the way of our ear.” “The brain tells us what to hear,” he said.
Another linguist, a professor from the University of Georgia, Bill Kretzschmar, echoes Preston’s views. “People may think Ms. Markle sounds British because she has moved [to England], not because she really does sound British,” Kretzschmar told Yahoo. Yet, both specialists point to the fact that language “accommodation” also occurs – they have stressed- “over time,” which is common practice in line with typical human empathy.
Nearly the same opinion was expressed by dialect coach Pamela Vanderway:
“It’s absolutely normal for a human being to take on the accent of the people around them when they want to belong to that group,” she told The Guardian. “Some people are better at accommodation that others, and Ms. Markle may be one of them,” Kretzschmar noted.
According to Vanderway, there’s also the fact of the duchess being a trained actor, who “has likely had to work in accents before.” With her mouth being “a little bit more malleable” she has picked up some British sounds after being immersed in British culture.
People changing accents are not frequently attacked for not being authentic. Madonna, for example, was jeered at when she started speaking in a British accent, like her former husband, English film director Guy Ritchie.