Listen to these two speakers and guess their nationality?

Study group   Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:15 am GMT
Hello, we are studying different types of English around the world and we are curious about how people may be able to tell where someone is from by listening to his/her English. I'd like you to listen to two person's English. I wonder if you could make general comments about their English and guess what their native tongues/nationalities are.

Speaker 1

Speaker 2

Thank you very much for your time in advance.
Study group   Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:24 am GMT

Sorry this one was a wav file:

Speaker 2
Roppy   Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:04 pm GMT
Accent   Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:29 pm GMT
#1 Definitely Minnesota. You can tell because of how he says "afterwards"--the "a" sound sounds like "ayuh". And the o's are so rounded.
Josh Lalonde   Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:22 pm GMT
Yeah, I thought of Minnesota for #1 as well. They tend to use monophthongs where other Americans use diphthongs. That is, the vowels in "owe, pay, see" all have short gliding sounds in most accents of the US, but not in Minnesota. I don't know for #2.
Damian in Edinburgh   Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:54 pm GMT
I enjoyed listening to both clips - both were well spoken and clear in their own ways, and the accents were quite pleasant. I may well have enjoyed hearing them read Alice in Wonderland all the way through.

Both were quite rhotic, of course. The first guy sounded like a native born American - from the North of the USA, as has been suggested, but no way am I able to pinpoint it to any particular region, or State. I'm not that well versed with American accents.

The second guy made me think that perhaps he is of Asian extraction by the way he voiced certain sounds. Would I be right on that one?
Travis   Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:54 pm GMT
The first is definitely Upper Midwestern, but does not sound quite like dialects here in southeastern Wisconsin, most noticably having rounder vowels and having other minor differences in the vowels used. It also has a noticably different cadence from dialects here, most likely due to having a more General American-like vowel length pattern than the dialect here (which has a considerable amount of variation between short and long vowels length-wise). It was rather familiar, though, in its frequent devoicing of final consonants, especially sibilants, on the other hand, which is much like dialects here.

The second is likely non-native, and the most noticable feature to me at least was its seemingly almost complete lack of variation between short and long vowels, resulting in a rather strange and somewhat artificial-seeming cadence. I could not really pin it down to any dialect spoken by a native speaker from listening to it myself.
Guest   Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:50 am GMT
Why doesn't the hyperlink for person 2 work any more?
I tried to comment after listening to both of them again, but just brief impression I got from last time I listened to them:

Person 1 sounds like a native speaker from, as others have mentioned, somewhere Upper Midwest, most likely Minnesota, though there were times it sounded like he mispronounced some words. Maybe he's been in a bilingual environment for quite a bit of time.

Person 2 sounded like a nonnative speaker from, say, Korea or somewhere in East Asia, judging from his awkward cadence and sounds that are a bit 'off' to my ears. He has probably lived in North America for a long time and his pronunciation is very good for a nonnative speaker, but to my ears at least, he doesn't sound like a native speaker of North American English of any sort.

Re-upload the soundclip of person 2 for further comment, or upload something longer and I can comment more in detail.
David   Sun Feb 18, 2007 6:55 pm GMT
Hmmm...this is interesting. I'll take a closer listen, but I'd definitely say the first speaker is non-native to the United States. I've spent a good amount of time in the Midwest, and the qualities of the vowel and consonant sounds are a little "off." If I had to guess, I'd say he was from East Asia. But this is an interesting exercise.
Guest   Sun Feb 18, 2007 10:27 pm GMT
I am sure neither is a native English speaker. I would guess both are from East Asia.
Travis   Mon Feb 19, 2007 2:13 am GMT
>>Hmmm...this is interesting. I'll take a closer listen, but I'd definitely say the first speaker is non-native to the United States. I've spent a good amount of time in the Midwest, and the qualities of the vowel and consonant sounds are a little "off." If I had to guess, I'd say he was from East Asia. But this is an interesting exercise.<<

Just what do you mean by "Midwest" here? For starters, Missouri doesn't count. I myself would guess that the person is from the northern end of the Upper Midwest, somewhere between North Dakota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. And not all Midwesterners sound the same at all, so if one primarily was in the southern end of the Midwest you very likely would have never encountered anyone who sounded like, say, a Yooper or like, and consequently one cannot necessarily say that they aren't from the Midwest just because people from where you exactly happened to be didn't sound like such.

On that note, what the fuck is with people thinking that Upper Midwesterners sound as if they were from East Asia anyways? Hell, I've gotten the same exact response to my own sound samples, and I for one am quite sure I am from the Upper Midwest, to say the least.
WTF smackdown   Mon Feb 19, 2007 2:41 am GMT
East Asian.
Tim   Mon Feb 19, 2007 3:02 am GMT
Both were pretty good in pronunciation and clarity, but the second was easier to understand as the first one read too quickly at times and mispronounced some words. The accent was also different; the second was closer to an American one, as he had a better grasp of the overall context as evidenced by the emphasis on the appropriate words and syllables.

Finally, I have never heard a native English (at least "American" English!) person pay so much attention to pronouncing the "t"s, such as in "waistcoat". A native American would pronounce it as "waiscoat" with the last 't' getting very little emphasis and the middle 't' disappearing. Having lived in Asia for 6 years, having taught ESL for most of that time, and having grown up in the States, I would bet a lot that the first speaker was NOT a native and I'm guessing he's Japanese. The second speaker was much closer to a native American English speaker in terms of pronunciation and overall grasp of the nuances of the language.
Presley.   Mon Feb 19, 2007 4:52 am GMT
Tabun nihonjin da to omou.
Guest   Mon Feb 19, 2007 5:18 am GMT
I can detect a slight Japanese accent on the 2nd clip.