Listen to these two speakers and guess their nationality?

zzz   Mon Feb 19, 2007 5:23 am GMT
>> 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. <<

I think it's the vowels. Midwesterners sort of sound like Asians who moved to California, and haven't quite gotten the vowels just right.
Travis   Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:28 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.<<

Sorry, but an L2 speaker of English whose L1 language is Japanese wouldn't have Canadian Raising, which the first speaker most clearly has. This should have been the very first thing to indicate that this was a native speaker or at least an L2 speaker with very significant exposure to Upper Midwestern or Canadian NAE dialects so as to acquire native-like Canadian Raising patterns.

As for the second speaker, that's just an individual who tried to get General American pronunciation down well but who has no clue of North American English vowel length patterns whatsoever, resulting in sounding utterly robotic in nature.
Gabriel   Mon Feb 19, 2007 7:37 pm GMT
So, I wonder if the truth behind the speakers' origins is ever going to be revealed. There seem to be too many threads like this where someone posts a sample of their speech, has everyone wondering for a while, and then the mystery's never clarified.
Guest   Tue Feb 20, 2007 1:47 pm GMT
I'm not sure about speaker #1, he could be an American or Canadian, or someone who has learned American English very well. Speaker #2 is definitely not a native speaker and I'm guessing he's someone who tried to speak General American and didn't quite get the cadence right.

Well, speaker #1 speaks longer than speaker #2, so it's not a good comparison though. Usually the more you speak, the more your accent tends to stand out.
Study group --- Kaz   Tue Feb 20, 2007 5:40 pm GMT
Hi, guys, thanks for all the comments. Both Speaker 1 and 2 are Japanese and I am Speaker 2.

I (Speaker 2) aimed for general American English using a minimum (very restrictive) set of rules to control, but I will try a few bottles of bear and see if it improves a bit :>.

Speaker 2 studied in Japan and he has working knowledge of phonology. I am impressed that he can read very well. I am curious how he obtained his Minessota or Canadian accent.

Thanks again for your comments.

Study group --- Kaz   Tue Feb 20, 2007 5:44 pm GMT
Sorry, above I meant Speaker 1 when I said Speaker 2 studied in Japan ...
Travis   Tue Feb 20, 2007 6:24 pm GMT
Maybe Speaker 1 was in contact with native English speakers from the Upper Midwest or Canada, be they teachers or foreign students? That'd be my guess, as Canadian Raising is not part of General American and consequently would be unlikely to be taught in Japan (especially from what I know about the teaching of English in Japan). If he had lived in North America at some point, though, such would be more understandable, as then it would be likely that he'd acquire such if he was in Upper Midwest or Canada.