The English language always interests me, especially in its many different dialects.
Some of you may be familiar with the IDEA website. I’ve blogged about it before, but I thought it might be of interest for readers here to check out the IDEA site. The acronym stands for ‘International Dialects of English Archive.‘ If you follow the link you will see the page which contains sound files of American dialects, with the voices of people from various parts of the U.S.. The participants are given material to read aloud, and thus we get some idea of their regional or local dialect.
On the IDEA website there are people from every region of the U.S., and if you find the drop-down menu at the top left of the page you can find voice samples from other English-speaking countries.
This is fascinating to me; I love our language, though I do get the impression that all our regional or local American dialects are fading away and being leveled out, so that the dialects become less distinct and more similar to each other. It seems the younger the speaker, the more generic is the accent or dialect. Some exceptions exist, of course. People from rural areas tend to retain more of an accent though even they are affected by ‘media English’, (the sort of non-accent, or more accurately, mid-American accent) which usually overpowers the natural accent.
I wonder if those of you reading this blog find that the accents on the recordings are like those of the average native of your area, or not? I thought the New England speech samples were identifiable as such.
But speaking for myself, it seemed many of the speakers from Texas didn’t sound as though they are Texans or even from the South, whereas in the past, accents were very noticeable and well-defined.
Most of the recordings are from several years back, and even in that length of time, people’s speech can change, especially as our society is undergoing so many changes.