Where is this speaker from?

Rom   Thu Sep 08, 2005 3:49 am GMT
Is it possible to tell where an English speaker lives based on their accent? <a href="http://h.amapro.com.au/hosting/rom/12.wav">Here</a> is an audio sample. Does anyone know which state/province this speaker is from?
Rom   Thu Sep 08, 2005 3:50 am GMT
I guess it doesn't accept HTML. The address is: http://h.amapro.com.au/hosting/rom/12.wav for the audio file.
Uriel   Thu Sep 08, 2005 5:25 am GMT
Either American or Canadian. Couldn't tell you more precisely than that, though.
Gjones2   Thu Sep 08, 2005 7:05 am GMT
As Uriel said -- and to use Travis's term -- North American. I'll narrow it down a little and guess that the speaker isn't a Southerner. The pronunciation of 'Bob' leads me to that conclusion, as does the absence of the usual characteristics of Southern accents. (Also I'll surmise that the speaker is male, 23-years-old, brown hair, 5'9", 160 lbs.)

I had a little trouble with one sentence -- "She can swoop[?] these things into three red ba[n]gs[?]." I don't use 'swoop' that way, but the dictionary shows that it can have that meaning. The 'bangs' may really be 'bags' (which I'd expect from the context), but it didn't sound like 'bags' to me.
Kirk   Thu Sep 08, 2005 7:40 am GMT
<<The 'bangs' may really be 'bags' (which I'd expect from the context), but it didn't sound like 'bags' to me.>>

That's interesting you mention that, as I didn't notice it the first time. There's front-vowel raising before velar nasal [N] in my dialect so since I expect "bangs" to be pronounced [beNz] and "bags" to be pronounced [b{:gz], I heard [{] and assumed it was "bags." However, listening to it again it does sound like he said [b{Nz], which he might've, but also the sound quality of the recording and what those types of recordings can pick up isn't always the best.

Anyway, overall he sounds North American, but he's obviously using a "reading voice" and people often slip (usually pretty unconsciously but maybe consciously on some levels) into more conservative norms when reading as compared to their everyday speech, which I think is more interesting to analyze when dealing with accents. If we were able to hear his everyday natural speech I think it would be easier to pinpoint where he was from.

As for the "scoop" thing, the recording is mostly likely ultimately from this site:


and the text is the same as read by all the people in the recordings on the site, so I know the word is "scoop" and not "swoop."
Gjones2   Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:34 am GMT
Yes, it's definitely 'scoop'. It sounds rather clear now that I'm looking for it. Funny that I listened to that part of the recording five or six times and never noticed it before. Also what a coincidence that 'swoop' can mean "To seize or snatch in or as if in a sudden sweeping movement" [American Heritage Dictionary]. I suppose that once I saw that 'swoop' could be used as a transitive verb with that meaning, I started assuming that the word was 'swoop' and turned my attention to the last word.

'Bags' still sounds odd to me. It's not clearly 'bangs' -- and, I suppose, it's more 'bags' than 'bangs' -- but there's something about the way it's said that reminds me of 'bangs'.
Rom   Thu Sep 08, 2005 3:06 pm GMT
Hmm. It was definitely 'bags'. This could be a dialect marker. You may be more accustomed to hearing it pronounced with the 'a' sound in the word 'bad' as opposed to the 'a' sound in the word 'cape'. Here it is both ways: http://h.amapro.com.au/hosting/rom/bags2.wav
Uriel   Thu Sep 08, 2005 6:42 pm GMT
No, it's definitely scoop and bags. I've seen this site before and they have about a trillion people all reading that exact same text in various accents so you can compare them. The text only makes marginal sense because I think the words were chosen mainly to highlight the pronunciation variables. Most of the speakers say where they're from, but a few don't.

Sorry, Rom, but you're running into the problem that most Americans/Canadians just aren't accent nazis; we don't make it a point to learn to identify various regional accents.
Watashi   Thu Sep 08, 2005 7:38 pm GMT
It certainly sounds like a very strong New York accent to me. That's the only place they speak like that.
Tom K.   Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:01 pm GMT
Well, SOME of us are accent nazis! Unfortunately I can only use public terminals like this one so I can't play the file right now. Some time later today (or maybe tomorrow) I'll bring some headphones, play the file, and if I can't tell you where this person is from, I'll tell you where he's NOT from.
Uriel   Fri Sep 09, 2005 12:23 am GMT
That sounds absolutely nothing like a strong NY accent, Watashi. Not even CLOSE.
Kirk   Fri Sep 09, 2005 12:42 am GMT
In terms of the original audio recording I think it's easier to guess where the speaker's NOT from, as Tom K. indicated. His accent has no discernible trace of the Southern Vowel Shift, the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, the California Vowel Shift, no nonrhotic pronunciations, and no Canadian Raising evident from the recording. In this way it could be said he speaks "General American" at least as evidenced by his formal reading voice of a small passage.

He doesn't sound Californian to me, or West Coast for that matter. I would guess he's from the Midwest (but not the Northern Midwest) or the East Coast (but not a speaker of an easily identifiable East Coast accent like NYC or Boston speech).

As I said before, it can be hard to tell from the relatively formal register that people use when using their "reading voices," but based off that those were the impressions I got.
american nic   Fri Sep 09, 2005 12:51 am GMT
Southeastern New England.
Uriel   Fri Sep 09, 2005 1:33 am GMT
You think? My dad's family is from Cape Cod/New Bedford area, and they have a strong, strong New England accent -- no R's, weird vowels, etc. I don't hear that in this sample at all.
Tom K.   Fri Sep 09, 2005 1:46 am GMT
I tried listening to it but got a "Cannot Find Server" error.