How to use this site

Welcome to the speech accent archive. You may need to get the Quicktime plug-in to play the sound clips. Each individual sample page contains a sound control bar, a set of the answers to 7 demographic questions, a phonetic transcription of the sample,1 a set of the speaker's phonological generalizations, a link to a map showing the speaker's place of birth, and a link to the Ethnologue language database.

The archive also contains a set of native language phonetic inventories so that you can perform some contrastive analyses. If a particular sample does not have a phonetic transcription nor a generalizations page, please be patient—all samples will eventually be complete. We are adding new samples weekly, and the pages are updated frequently.

To hear each sample, just click on the pause/play button of the sound control bar. You can also control the volume, the speed, and the cueing, by clicking on the other iconic buttons.

To learn more about the phonological generalizations, click on this generalization definitions page.

To see a pop-up window of a map of the speaker's place of birth, click on map. You can also browse with a world map that has indicators of representative speakers from different regions.

The archive is continually growing. We periodically add new speech samples, new transcriptions, and generalizations. To find our current total number of speech samples, go to our search page and simply click on the "find" button.

How to cite this site

Weinberger, Steven. (2014). Speech Accent Archive. George Mason University. Retrieved from http://accent.gmu.edu

Methodology

We constructed an elicitation paragraph to be read by each subject. The paragraph is written in English, and uses common English words, but contains a variety of difficult English sounds and sound sequences. The paragraph contains practically all of the sounds of English.

Subjects are asked to read and agree to a standard Human Subjects Cover Letter (part of the submission process). Each Subject is recorded individually in a quiet room. Subjects sit at a table and are approximately 8-10 inches from the microphone.

Subjects are asked a series of seven demographic questions:

  1. Where were you born?
  2. What is your native language?2
  3. What other languages besides English and your native language do you know?
  4. How old are you?
  5. How old were you when you first began to study English?
  6. How did you learn English? (academically or naturalistically)
  7. How long have you lived in an english-speaking country? Which country?

Subjects are then allowed to look at the elicitation paragraph for a minute or so, and they are permitted to ask about words that are unfamiliar.  Subjects then read the paragraph once into a high quality recording device. (Many of these recordings were done on a Sony TC-D5M using a Radio Shack 33-3001 unidirectional dynamic microphone, and on a Sony minidisk recorder. MDR-70, with a Sony ECM-MS907 stereo microphone) Every remote researcher must specify the type of recording device employed.

The elicitation paragraph:
Please call Stella.  Ask her to bring these things with her from the store:  Six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese, and maybe a snack for her brother Bob.  We also need a small plastic snake and a big toy frog for the kids.  She can scoop these things into three red bags, and we will go meet her Wednesday at the train station.

The elicitation paragraph contains most of the consonants, vowels, and clusters of standard American English. See the sounds and their distributions in the paragraph.

Submit a Sample

Please fill out the following page to submit a speech sample. To learn how to make a suitable voice recording, click here.

1 Notes on our phonetic transcriptions: We are following the 2005 version of the IPA. The font used is called Doulos SIL font. We are concentrating on segmental transcription, and do not deal with stress or tone. The transcriptions are done by 2 to 4 English speaking judges who are phonetically educated. The consensus rate is high. Even though most speakers produce continuous speech, we arbitrarily leave spaces between each word for readability. We also add extra spaces to indicate pauses.

2The archive lists each native language as self-reported by the subject. Where there may be another more common name for a subject's native language, it is listed on the browse pages.