Friday, September 19, 2008

Compare yourself to the Accent Archive

Dick Van Dyke's chimney sweep in "Mary Poppins" was a great character, but real Londoners cringe whenever they hear his attempt at a Cockney accent. It works both ways, though -- I think most people in London imagine all Americans sound like George Bush, drive pickup trucks, and enjoy shooting beer cans with shotguns (but that's another story...).

If you want to see how people really sound, check out this handy little website. The good folks at George Mason University's English department have recorded almost 1000 native and non-native English speakers speaking a short elicitation paragraph, to wit:

Please call Stella. Ask her to bring these things with her from the store: Six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese, and maybe a snack for her brother Bob. We also need a small plastic snake and a big toy frog for the kids. She can scoop these things into three red bags, and we will go meet her Wednesday at the train station.

Browse around and check out speakers from different regions and different countries. Interesting stuff!


P.S. -- My accent seems to match up to samples from Pittsburgh.

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