A new London accent strikingly different from Cockney has emerged in the last few years. Linguists call it "Multicultural London English" (or MLE) and although it has obvious roots in the London black community it's now displacing Cockney to become a universal accent for working class London youth, regardless of race. Change is spreading so fast that London teens often have radically different accents from their own parents. [more inside]
The International Dialects of English Archive (IDEA) is a free, online archive of primary-source dialect and accent recordings of the English language. Founded in 1997 at the University of Kansas, it includes hundreds of recordings of English speakers by natives of nearly 100 different countries. To find an example of an accent or dialect, use the Global Map, or select a continent or region at the Dialects and Accents page. [more inside]
Experts have discovered the identity of Pingu's spoken language: English in an Irish accent. (Bleeped, but possibly still not feckin' worksafe, y'old bollocks.)
Did Vladimir Lenin speak English with an Irish accent? The blog of Dublin culture Come Here To Me has some fun digging into Lenin's supposed Rathmines accent. The Dublin Review of Books describes the now extinct "Rathmines accent" a bit more, but says the Lenin story is not "enormously well-vouched". (The Russian embassy in Ireland apparently thinks otherwise).
"No wonder we react so viscerally to the 'ching-chong, ching-chong' schoolyard taunt. To attack our language, our ability to sound 'normal,' is to attack our ability to be normal. It's to attack everything we've worked for." An essay by Arthur Chu on feigning a Chinese accent for work and ridding oneself of an accent for life. [more inside]
Sure, it's unfortunate that the Philadelphia accent is fading away a bit, but on the other hand, have you ever even heard of the Texas German accent?
"In linguistic circles, there is a bit of excitement over the election of Marty Walsh as Boston’s next mayor. Not only does he have a strong Boston accent — perhaps the strongest in the city’s mayoral history — but his speech is a perfect example of the modern dialect, where the broad “a” sound is gone. He’s from Dohchestah. Not Dawchestah. And when it comes time to say pronounce his new job title, he shows the variability of the dialect, which is what actors who drop every R get wrong. Sometimes he’s a may-uh. Sometimes he’s a mare. And a lot of times, he skips both the Y and the R and he’s just a maeh..."
What Is Going on With the Accents in Game of Thrones? Gawker beanplates the accents used on-screen by the actors in Game of Thrones. Like most fantasy television shows, Game of Thrones is largely populated by English actors speaking with English accents. This is because Americans are still unconvinced that England is a real country, and associate English speech patterns with kings and magic and sorcery and frequent stabbings. [more inside]
"Toity poiple boids / Sittin on da koib / A-choipin an’ a-boipin / An’ eatin doity woims." From Atlantic Avenue to Zerega Avenue (map), the kinds of New York City accents made famous by the likes of Archie Bunker, Jimmy Breslin and Travis Bickle are disappearing. But though you may not often hear “foath floah” for "fourth floor" in Manhattan anymore, documentary filmmaker Heather Quinlan knows you can still hear strains of the old mellifluous tones in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx, and that's exactly what she's setting out to document in her film If These Knishes Could Talk.
Oy coom too berry Sayzurr, nut too preyze im. That's a reconstruction of how Brutus's famous speech from "Julius Caesar" may have sounded to Shakespeare's original audience. (Scroll down in the linked page for the rest of the speech -- or look inside this post.) If you'd like to learn more about Original Pronunciation (OP), check out www.pronouncingshakespeare.com, where you'll find several recordings by David Crystal, the scholar who probably knows most about the subject. You can also listen to this example or this NPR broadcast, first linked to in this 2005 post, here. Ben Crystal, David's son, tries some OP here. [more inside]
Can you guess where my accent is from? A flash game from the Language Trainers' Group -- listen to lines of poetry recited by people from different countries and try to guess their origin.
Polyglot Michel Thomas came to prominence through his work for the French resistance and the successful interrogation of Nazis (who had formerly imprisoned him). After the war he started to develop (and eventually patent) a method for teaching languages that eschewed notes, books, writing, memorisation and homework. Instead, words and phrases would be built up in lego-like constructions to provide “confidence in hours not years”. He gave private lessons to a long list of A-list celebrities including Woody Allen, Natasha Kinsky, Tony Curtis and Grace Kelly. A BBC documentary from 1997 told his story and tested him out with the less exalted audience of 16 year old London school kids pre-selected to be “incapable of learning a foreign language” by their teachers [YT pt 1, 2, 3, 4]. He was secretive about how his methods worked until the end of his life when he finally made his courses available as audiobooks. [more inside]
BBC News: "Gee, I just love your accent." The American nation may be more wary of crossing borders, but their love affair with the British accent continues unabated. Despite the fact that there are multiple variants therein, and what may be considered a "low-class" accent in the UK is still considered a "high-class" posh accent in the US. Naturally, the Brits will play this up to the hilt - and it may help in getting them jobs, credibility, Oscars and Emmys, by no less an authority than Stephen Fry.
English Accents and Dialects. The British Library has compiled an online archive of northern speech dating back to the 19th century. The recordings range from from audio from Victorian cylinder dictaphones to 1950s football fans chanting.
Hussein Translator on CBS Used Fake Accent? I thought this was an amusing tidbit in the also popular "news vs. entertainment" debate.
Classes for immigrants on how to ditch the accent were offered in the early part of the last century. It provides proof that Quebec's recent initiative to create citizenship for immigrants new to the PROVINCE is not a new idea. Might not be a good idea. But hardly original.
When colleagues in countries outside the U.S. attempt to get me to understand how the rest of the world could loathe us quite as much as they do, this is what they are talking about. "Well, shee-oot, they don' even speak English down there, howthehell they gonna know them tires is not safe? Just slap a little ol' label on 'em and say they're safe.... Oughta be good 'nough!"