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General American, which may be abbreviated, as in AWE, GA, or GenAm, is a term that has been disputed by many linguists in the USA from its first proposal in 1924 (in The English Language in America, by George P. Krapp). Many writers on the English language in Britain, however, find it a useful generalization - if, like most generalizations, not wholly accurate. AWE follows J. C. Wells in the LPD in using it as a convenient shorthand to label those differences in the pronunciation of our language on the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

General American, an adjectival or nominal usage, means "of, relating to, or designating a form of U.S. speech without marked dialectal or regional characteristics" (OED). It is sometimes identified by what it is not: it is not the accent of the North-Eastern United States ('New England') nor the (various) 'drawls' of the southern states. Sometimes it is claimed to be the accent of the Midwestern, or western, states. It appears to be the accent on which broadcasters converge as the 'most acceptable' to the greatest part of their audience, and in this way, as well as its use among educators, may be said to be equivalent to the British 'Received Pronunciation' accent. It appears, however, to have escaped much of the snobbish associations of that form of speech.