I grew up in a southern part of the U.S., but years of living away have flattened out my accent. As soon as I talk to someone from "back home" I pick it right back up. This also happens on video chats, I discovered, much to my wife's amusement.
Moving around so much does flatten accent. I'm one of those "neutrals." The ambiguity has served me rather well.
I like that: transatlantic. I think it's all very much to do with the context of speakers around you - if everyone has a drawl, you'll pick it up too. Take away the local colour and it flattens out again.Maybe the standard, neutral and international english is becoming the norm, just as we're (slowly) becoming less stratified internationally. A class-ridden society like England will always place great emphasis on identifying people by accent and the town they grew up in. When I lived in Dublin I had to really iron out my Australian accent - neutralise it to the max - because people would simply not understand me. Not the Irish, nor the Germans, nor my Spanish colleagues. Once I went to the bar and asked for an Erdinger, and after repeating myself with clearest and exasperating over-emphasis, the bargirl sheepishly replied "... Heineken?". And my accent was never even that wide!Sheesh.
Interesting post! Our accents are indeed influenced by whatever environment we find ourselves in -- even for only a few days. Several years ago, we had British houseguests stay with us for about 10 days, and I began to pick up their accents! Meanwhile, the reverse was NOT true. We joked a lot about the differences of pronouncing the word "France". I cracked up every time these Brit friends imitated our American accent. It was a hoot! :)