The English Accent and Dialect Project

10 Feb 2012

Beginning today, I’m working on a new project that I expect to take up to a year to complete. Here’s a quick introduction to the project and why I’m doing it:

Currently, there is only ONE other place on the web where I’ve been able to find a collection of accents, which is on GMU’s website. I applaud their tenacity in trying to do this, but unfortunately, once you have a listen to a few accents, you’ll notice that it a> is pretty boring, b> doesn’t convey the accents very well by leaving out certain sounds (z, car, etc), c> some people are speaking slower than they normally would, so it’s once again not too helpful. I think that by allowing the speakers to just speak, rather than read a text, that we’re likely to see and hear more of the ‘flavor’ of the language.

Now that we’ve discussed what I’m doing and WHY, I’d like to discuss what I’d like to get from anyone who is interested in contributing to the project.

I’d prefer if everyone stuck to the same general topic, which is introductions and work. I’d like for each contributor to give their name and where they live (city, state), year they were born (optional) and then to discuss their job. It’s important for contributors to just assume that they are explaining their job to someone who has NO IDEA what it is they’re talking about, and to explain it thoroughly.

That being said, try to keep the videos under 5 minutes per person, and try not to use gigantic words or specialized terms unless they are well-known (or you want to explain them in the video).

If, after explaining your work, you still have time left, then talk about your hobbies, your family, whatever. You can feel free to talk about things you enjoy, like music, movies/tv and sports… again, assume that the viewers have NO IDEA who or what you are talking about, so please explain.

Some things should not be talked about. These topics include: your address or phone number, income, religion, political views, sexual orientation, etc. These videos are for ESL students, and we don’t need your “full” identity. I’d even prefer it if you didn’t give your last name.

Filming the video:
Please try to make your lighting and framing as close to my above video as possible. Please, not too close or too far away. Make sure the lighting is decent (no harsh shadows) and that the place you are in is quiet enough for you to be heard clearly.

I’m not an amazing video editor, so I can’t fix these issues, should they arise, in the same way that I can fix those bad photos from the bar last night.

Think about what you want to say before filming, and feel free to make notes if you feel it will help.

Couples: You can film to video together, and then your video can go up to 10 minutes. Just make sure that each of you gets about the same amount of talk time.

Don’t slow yourself down. Talk at your normal speed and rhythm, as if you were talking to me or a family member.

When you are finished making the video, please email it to me (along with the answered questions below) so I can add subtitles and upload it to youtube.

These videos will be public. Keep that in mind as you speak, and please be safe: don’t give out any personal information that you wouldn’t want to share with the entire world.

Be natural, be yourself, and thank you so much for helping me!

(to be filled out and submitted by each person (or couple) who sends a video. No answers, no uploaded video!) 

Each person in the video must answer these questions:

1. What city and state do you currently live in?

2. Were you born there?

3. If no, where were you born?

4. Please list ALL of the cities/states you have lived in, and amount of time in each (example/note: if you lived in White Marsh, Rosedale and then Towson, please combine and just say ‘Baltimore’).

5. Do you think you have an accent or a dialect? If so, what kind?

6. Do you think that you speak too quickly or too slowly?

7. Do you try to speak this way, or is it natural?

8. When speaking to people in another state, can they tell where you are from just by listening to you talk?

9. Is there a certain accent or dialect (American) that you can’t stand? One that you love?

10. Is there a certain accent or dialect (worldwide) that you can’t stand? One that you love?
(It’s ok to leave 9 and 10 blank if you can’t think of anything) 

11. How often do you speak with people whose first language is not English?

12. How often do you leave America to travel to a country where English is NOT the first language?

13. Is English your first language?

14. Do you speak any other languages? If so, please list and note your level of proficiency (beginner, intermediate, fluent, etc)

2 Responses “The English Accent and Dialect Project” →

  1. Jordan


    How did this project turn out? Where can I view the submitted videos? Thanks!

    • hi Jordan, there are a few videos on my youtube channel, but I haven’t got any from friends in a long time. However, if you’d like to submit one, I’d always be happy to receive it:)


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