Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Please Call Stella

This morning on NPR, I heard about something cool -- George Mason University linguistic professor Steven Weinberger's Speech Accent Archive:

"Everyone who speaks a language, speaks it with an accent. A particular accent essentially reflects a person's linguistic background. When people listen to someone speak with a different accent from their own, they notice the difference, and they may even make certain biased social judgments about the speaker.

The speech accent archive is established to uniformly exhibit a large set of speech accents from a variety of language backgrounds. Native and non-native speakers of English all read the same English paragraph and are carefully recorded. The archive is constructed as a teaching tool and as a research tool. It is meant to be used by linguists as well as other people who simply wish to listen to and compare the accents of different English speakers."

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I think the list of languages is interesting -- there may be some languages that are new to you.

Here are some of the uses they name for the archive:

"Who uses the archive?
*ESL teachers who instruct non-native speakers of English
*Actors who need to learn an accent
*Engineers who train speech recognition machines
*Linguists who do research on foreign accent
*Phoneticians who teach phonetic transcription
*Speech pathologists
*Anyone who finds foreign accent to be interesting"

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