Largely speaking, residents of Ponyville speak with a generic General American accent.

Non-resident, cousin Babs Seed has a stereotypical New York accent.

Rarity, who was born in Ponyville, speaks with a TransAtlantic accent, while her younger sister, Sweetie Belle has the General American accent (to my knowledge, it has never been stated where Sweetie Belle was born). The argument could easily be made that Rarity has trained herself to use that accent to craft her own image.

Then there is Apple Jack and the rest of the Apple Family. We know that the forefathers of the Apple family were involved in the founding of Ponyville. While it is not specified, it is fairly safe to assume that Apple Jack, Apple Bloom, Big McIntosh and Granny Smith have never lived anywhere other than Sweet Apple Acres, located just outside of Ponyville.

Yet, somehow, the entire family speaks with a thick Southern American English accent. While many people certainly adopt accents from family members, the lack of anyone else having a similar accent in the area should temper or reduce that accent over time and generations.

Is there any in-universe reason for them to all to have such a different accent from all the rest of the residents of Ponyville? In absence of an in-universe reason, a comment from one of the writers explaining why the difference is so exaggerated would be acceptable.

  • As told in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", Applejack did live in Manehattan for some unspecified period of time. Not that this could have given her a Southern accent, of course. – hmakholm left over Monica Mar 2 '14 at 16:47
  • We have found out in S5 E9 that two ponies (the Doctor and Octavia Melody) have British accents as well. – b_jonas Jun 29 '15 at 6:09

In Family Appreciation Day it is established that the Apples are from another region of Equestria. In that region they probably all spoke with this particular southern accent. After they moved to the future region of Ponyville and founded a settlement that would later be Ponyville, the ponies from the neighboring regions started moving there and settling down, but they had their own (Ponyville-region) accents.

Since fillies and colts in the Apple family tended to spend much of their time on Sweet Apple Acres with their family, they learned to speak with their inherited family accent. The same goes for other families' kids, they learned to speak using their parents' accents (Ponyville-regional, or as you refer to it, general american).

Outside of the universe, the creators clearly wanted to portray the Apples as The Stereotypical Southern Farmer Family. This includes all generations living together, having many relatives who have the same profession, and of course speaking with a thick southern american english accent.

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    "they learned to speak with their inherited family accent." Most people typically lose their parent's accents and adopt a more local one as they spend more time not immersed/surrounded by an accent. Children of immigrants living in areas with strong regional accents often do not have their parent's homeland accent, or have a very slight one. By this point, after so many generations Apple Jack and Sweetie Belle should not be so exaggerated. – phantom42 Mar 4 '14 at 11:59
  • This is why I mentioned that they probably spent much of their time with their family. There isn't much knowledge about preschool education in Equestria (Twilight mentions a magic kindergarten once), but I think we can assume that it is non-compulsory and the Apples wanted to and had the means to keep their young around the family until they went to school. By this time, their speech and accent should have taken the final shape. (Although I admit I don't know much of the age-social environment-accent subject, so it might be that I'm mistaken and it is possible to adopt a new accent in school) – zovits Mar 4 '14 at 13:08

As zovits already said in his answer, it is established by the main show canon that the Apple family origins are to be found in another region of Equestria. Sadly, the exact zone is still unknown, but it may be in some way related to Appleloosa (see S01E21).

That said, it is pretty clear that the creators did indeed want to portrait the family as a stereotypical family of farmers with a strong southern accent. The question would then be "why?". Many episodes references the Apple family as one of the first families to settle in the land that would become Ponyville. This if fitting another stereotype. The Apples aren't just "farmers". They are colonizer, much like Grandma Elvira Duck family from the Disney comics was. While this still not really answer the question, I think that the premise should be made to understand the rest.

As anyone reading probably knows, A.J. is the current bearer of the element of Honesty. While the show never actually explains what each element actually is in greater detail, we can safely assume that "Honesty" here isn't just a matter of "not telling lies". Multiple lessons indicate that one more meaning of "Honesty" is "to be honest to yourself", ie "be truthful to your origin, don't try to hide who you are just to please others". While it is not a direct confirmation or in-world explanation, it is pretty interesting to notice that in the first Equestria Girl comic special we get a glimpse of how the human world main six first meet. Here, you can see A.J. as she just moved to Canterlot High... And almost immediately she gets picked on for her southern accent and the way she dress (it is a bit weird, since she is also "picked on" by Babs Seed, who seem far older in this world than she is in Equestria). While at first she tries to change and "become like the rest of the students" (to the point of attempting to change the way she speaks), she will latter decide that she should be "true" to herself, and reverts to her old habits.

I know that the comics aren't really considered to be canon with the show, and an Equestria Girl related one probably isn't much better, but this seem to be as close as we may get to an official answer. The "Honesty" theme seem to be played on the entire family: be true to your roots, you traditions (the Apples seem to follow many family traditions and may even have some different ways to celebrate some events than the rest of Ponyville) - and so on. In this way, it seem only to be appropriate for them to still have the same accent their family "always had". They still care for Apples in the same way. They still produce cider in the same way. They still celebrate with their relatives the same way... and they probably still speak the same way.

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