Accent Porn for the Aurally-Inclined

Laura’s Team Pick:

Whether you’re looking to master some obscure accent or just like listening to foreign people talk, you could probably use a visit to the International Dialects of English Archive. Besides having sound samples from people living on every continent — well, there are no Antarcticans — most samples come with a phonological breakdown for those of us who are fascinated by minutiae. If you find yourself with gobs of time on your hands, don’t forget to check out their wishlist to see if your language or accent happen to be desired by Paul Meier and friends. You can submit yourself — sexy! — and your voice could be heard by literally dozens of curious kids.

Just a note on listening: I think it’s more fun to skip over the first part of the recording where the person reads a story to the second half where they just speak informally. You get a better idea of what they sound like and sometimes you learn something interesting about their city.

Related:

Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 313 articles for us.

35 Comments

  1. Haha.I went straight to Venezuela
    [audio src="http://web.ku.edu/~idea/southamerica/venezuela/venezuela1.mp3" /]

    So fun, but the lady is a little bit old, i think . I sound more like a stone dude and everyone actually. That’s how we talk here the spanish, NJ

  2. That’s a cool website. I’m very fascinated by accents. I was raised in upstate NY, so I assumed I was accent-neutral and basically sound like people on TV. That’s not really true, I’m realizing, especially now that I’m living in the south. People’s accents are incredibly thick and unmistakable, but they can certainly hear mine. And I’m struck by how I haven’t known many people from California, but the ones I do sound exactly like they are from California — I assumed it to be “accent-neutral” just as I thought upstate NY was.

    They do have a sample on this website from my city, but I am tempted to submit one myself. I browsed through and listened to many. I think I am starting to learn to differentiate English accents a little bit — I get that from watching some British TV programs. I still think Australian accents are just the cutest of all.

    I think it’s interesting to consider how personal diction and speech quirks fit into the overall perception of someone’s accent. I know because the only Northeastern American in my southern office, sometimes my co-workers like to make fun of me a bit. Sometimes it’s legit my accent, but sometimes it’s just my own weird speech patterns and it sort of offends me/pisses me off that they make fun of it. Even listening to the websites samples, people just talk a little bit their own way that isn’t influenced by anything other than who they are.

    On the other hand, I can tell my officemates are quite defensive of their accents and I learned quickly bringing it up is a bad idea. I have a gay co-worker and for a time I didn’t understand why she continued to live in a state that is so unwelcoming to gay people (gay marriage is banned here) but now I realize that anywhere she goes outside the south (places that are unwelcoming to gay people), she will probably feel like an outsider. The stories she has told me of the way people treat her when she leaves the south is astounding. …Visiting the north and having people mock her accent back to her face and giggle. …On field trips when she was younger, kids asking if she only had one pair of shoes. Yet, there’s a tinge of guilt because as a NYer, I always had a perception (unintentional, but definitely there) about people with southern accents. I really never heard southern accents except for on TV. Now, I almost don’t hear it, and any negative connotations or perceptions I’ve had have melted away. I completely understand the defensiveness and I get why it must be hard to leave the south. It’s weird that something so simple as an accent can affect someone’s life so much. It’s something I’ve never had to worry about.

    And now I have written entirely way too much on this topic. But yes, I just wanted to say that I think accents are incredibly interesting!

    • I find how diction and speech quirks affect the perception of an accent really interesting. I tend to pick up speech quirks from people I spend time around so no one can place where I’m from (I’ve also been known to unintentionally mirror their accent). On thick accents, my brother-in-law’s family is from Maryland and it’s so hard for me to decipher what his dad says.

  3. So I had one accent from when I was first able to talk up to the age of 5, then we moved to another country, so my accent changed, but then we moved back to my country and my accent changed again, but this time it was more like a slowed-down version of my second accent. Then I moved to another country for a while and my accent changed again. And now I’m going to school in the U.S(but still live in my home country), so I have a different accent again. I have no idea what to tell people when they ask where my accent is from…

  4. I’ve been listening to a bunch of different accents, but I decided to peek at my own state, California, and I noticed all the samples are from SoCal! Someone needs to submit a NorCal one. We sound different up here to me :P

    /norcal reppin’

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