Field recordings from the Dictionary of American Regional English
July 27, 2017 6:40 PM   Subscribe

Field Recordings of American Voices from the Dictionary of American Regional English. "From 1965–1970, Fieldworkers for the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) conducted interviews with nearly 3,000 “Informants” in 1,002 communities across America. They visited native residents in all fifty states and D.C., collecting local words, phrases, and pronunciations. In addition to answering more than 1,600 questions from the DARE Questionnaire, many of the Informants, along with auxiliary speakers, agreed to be recorded by the Fieldworkers. These recordings consisted of conversational interviews as well as readings of “The Story of Arthur the Rat” (devised to elicit the essential differences in pronunciation across the country)."

"The Fieldwork Recordings are finally available online approximately fifty years after the recordings were first made. The recordings contain American regional speech samples from all fifty states, but their value is not linguistic alone. The full interviews contain an abundance of oral history from the 1960s, with topics ranging from the making of moonshine to the moon landing; from light-hearted jokes, recipes, and songs to serious discussions about race relations, politics, and the Vietnam War. It is truly a time capsule of American voices."
posted by escabeche (20 comments total) 84 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wickedpissah!
posted by vrakatar at 6:58 PM on July 27


Please call Stella. Ask her blah blah blah snow peas yada yada yada.

Seriously, this is great. I am fascinated by dwindling American regional and neighborhood accents.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:12 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


Yooman Bean
posted by jonmc at 7:12 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


My three-year-old told me she was just futzing around the other day.

I plotzed.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:47 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


Oh, WOW. There are two recordings from my small, rural, midwestern town from 1968. Listening to it, I am freaking out. The vowel sounds that I left behind, the vowel sounds I beat out of myself, are all there. Plus, I heard slang that that rang me like a bell; stuff I hadn't heard since I was a little child.

This is a time machine.
posted by minervous at 7:51 PM on July 27 [14 favorites]


I can't wait to listen to all the ones from Hawaii.
posted by rtha at 8:07 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


rtha, there's a recording of a kapuna from Waianae (though I've never heard the town pronounced like that) but it's inexplicably sped up.
posted by Tacodog at 9:56 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of bummed that they don't have anything from Hampton, Newport News or Norfolk (pronounced Naw-fick), VA. That's my mom's family's accent, and it makes me all kinds of nostalgic.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:09 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


I hear all my various grandparents in the Tennessee recordings, and it's nearly overwhelming. But so beautiful.

I often regret that between speech therapy for a lisp, high school theater, movies/tv, and college in Boston, I only barely sound like where I'm from. I can't believe I used to be proud I didn't.
posted by mostlymartha at 12:08 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


There are THREE recordings from my very small town (Everett, PA) and I am amazed. They sound absolutely perfect even unto this day for natives from the area. Spot-on.
posted by which_chick at 3:37 AM on July 28


Whoa, Wisconsin sure sounds like Wisconsin.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:44 AM on July 28


Interesting history from an 82 year Memphian, but he sounds nothing like a typical representative, then or now.
posted by grimjeer at 4:30 AM on July 28


If you want to hear the Bugs Bunny dialect, where Arthur the Rat shoiks making a cherce, there are many, many Brooklyn and Queens recordings of older folks.

Actually the variance in those accents -- with many of the older people displaying almost Transatlantic vowels until they hit on certain words -- is really interesting. The younger people have lost the "shoik" and "cherce" sounds, but the broad A in their parents' "rather" has turned into the more nasal vowel we hear now.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:48 AM on July 28


This is fascinating, especially since the woman they recorded from my hometown is being very "posh" and does not have the traditional accent of my people - but she sounds exactly like my grandmother did when she answered the phone!! I wish they had also gotten a snippet of a person who was not so posh from my area, as the non-posh accent is part of the great northern vowel shift and it really is quite something.
posted by sockermom at 5:28 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Listening to the folks from Eastern KY and East Tenn - I hear my people. I also heard a narrative from an Eastern KY lady who talked about migrating to Dayton OH for work...all part of the Appalachian Diaspora.
posted by bwvol at 6:21 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Wooooow I know the (my) Buffalo NY accent is nasal but those aaaaaaaaaayuhs are intense.
posted by misskaz at 9:30 AM on July 28


Wooooow I know the (my) Buffalo NY accent is nasal but those aaaaaaaaaayuhs are intense.
Now that's the great northern vowel shift!
posted by sockermom at 9:35 AM on July 28 [2 favorites]


One of my wife's friends is from somewhere in the Southern Tier and boy does she have that vowel. Every time we see her she asks how our "faaayut caaayut" is doing.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:52 AM on July 28 [4 favorites]


I am fascinated by dwindling American regional and neighborhood accents.

Good news! They're being replaced by new regional dialect features! A common misconception is that we're all merging into one pan-accent in which we all sound alike. Truth is, all the data show that old features are simply being replaced by new ones, new features are developing where there weren't any, and we're as far from speaking in one voice as we've ever been.

source: this is my area of expertise
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:16 PM on July 28 [8 favorites]


Truth is, all the data show that old features are simply being replaced by new ones, new features are developing where there weren't any, and we're as far from speaking in one voice as we've ever been.

No yeah, I know, right?

As Netflix captures and feeds all Anglophone televisual media to new audiences in the US, I do find myself marveling at how phonetic shifts and markers I thought of as distinctly "American" are really mostly features of specific areas in the poorest parts of the UK and Ireland (Canada got the lion's share of the poor Scots linguistic markers as far as I can tell).

Max Barry wrote a novel set in a future Australia that had politically and culturally merged with the United States. My recent diet of Oz dramas and comedies has made that idea less far-fetched, especially as the accents in the contemporary shows have begun to exhibit more American markers (again, to my ears). It makes sense—media saturation, American cultural imperialism, etc.—but that doesn't make it correct.

Mo Nickels, do you have links to research or studies examining these phonetic changes? I have an itch to try to decipher some IPA.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:57 PM on July 28 [2 favorites]


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