I ain’t got no accent…

The speech accent archive from George Mason University looks like a fantastic resource for linguists and speech recognition software developers alike. Samples of speech by a large selection of native and non-native English speakers are available, searchable by language/speaker or by geographical location.

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.

The post title is a reference to an encounter I had many years ago with a young boy from Oklahoma who declared that he liked our Irish accents. When we thanked him and said that we liked his accent too, he looked confused and said in his thick South Midland dialect “I ain’t got no accent!”. The perfect reminder that like so many things in life, it’s all relative!

(via Kottke.org)


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2 thoughts on “I ain’t got no accent…

  1. In 1979, my parents moved with us kids in tow to the backwoods of Arkansas, and built a log cabin in the woods in which we lived. It was quite a hike, through the woods and over the river to the school bus stop. First day of school, and my brother and I are the new kids, on the last stop (or first stop, depending how you view it) the bus makes. We get on, and pick a seat. The bus goes on it’s route picking up kids (it’s 40 miles 1 way to the school… we’re talking rural bus routes here.) The kids are naturally interested in us newcomers, and begin a conversation. “Where do yuns live?”, they ask us. We don’t know. We don’t know where yuns live. We don’t even know what a yun is. Maybe they live in caves and eat cherries. We don’t know. “I don’t know.” we answer. This elicits howls of laughter. We eventually snap to the fact that “yuns” is a contraction of “you ones”, “y’nes’.” equivalent to the the much more common “y’all.” We eventually explain where we (“yuns”) live. This explanation meets with the response, “Yuns talk funny.”

  2. Ha, that’s great! Interesting how many variations of you (plural) seem to exist to make up for the lack of specificity of the standard pronoun. “Yuns” “Y’all” and “all y’all” also have Irish equivalent (at least in Dublin) where “Ye” or “Yis” (as in “Yous”, like “yous guys”) is used for the plural, which leads to “Yisser” instead of “Your” which has probably confounded more than a few tourists over the years!

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