(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Map of Accents and Dialects

Say what?…


Trying to master a role in a Tennessee Williams play?  Place someone by their accent?  Steven Weinberger, a linguist at George Mason University can help.  He’s created The Speech Accent Archive, where one can click on a map to hear some native, some non-native English speakers from all over the world– but in each case reciting the same short English paragraph, crafted to contain every sound in the Queen’s Language.

(C.F. also the previously-reported British Library Map of Accents and Dialects.)

As we smooth our sibilants, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that Northwestern University conferred an honorary degree on ventriloquist’s dummy Charlie McCarthy (whose “partner,” Edgar Bergen, had attended Northwestern, but never graduated).

Lest we doubt that Bergen and his wooden friend were worthy of the academic accolade, we might note that they have been credited by some with “saving the world”: later that same year, on the night of October 30, 1938, when Orson Welles performed his War of the Worlds radio play, panicking many listeners, most of the American public had tuned instead to Bergen and McCarthy on another station.   (Dissenters note that Bergen may inadvertently have contributed to the hysteria: when the musical portion of Bergen’s show [The Chase and Sanborn Hour] aired about twelve minutes into the show, many listeners switched stations– to discover War of the Worlds in progress, with an all-too-authentic-sounding reporter detailing a horrific alien invasion.

Charlie McCarthy, BA (left), with his friend Edgar Bergen (source)


The British Library Gates

The British Library conjures images of rows and rows of books– and indeed, as a copyright depository, it’s home to acres and acres of them.  But its curatorial role extends beyond print to audio.  And its creativity in applying new technology to its collections (c.f., here and here, e.g.) is making it’s recordings available in new ways too.

The BL’s Archival Sound Recording Project has already processed over 21,000 recordings– everything from spoken word performances of works in the print collection (often by the authors– c.f., here) to the sounds of amphibians (mostly frogs and toads) around the world (here); and it is experimenting with mash-ups, laying the recordings on maps, e.g., the music of India (here).

But perhaps the most immediately useful (or, at least, amusing) is this map of accents and dialects from all over Great Britain, “illustrated” by over 700 recordings.

As we offer thanks to the librarians among us, we might recall that it was on this date in 1911 that later-to-be Nobel Laureate Thomas Mann visited the Lido in Venice and crystallized the idea for his haunting novella Death In Venice.  While Mann was adamant throughout his life that the protagonist, Aschenbach, was in no way autobiographical, his posthumously-available diaries suggest that Mann was in fact infatuated at the shore with a young Polish boy (the 11 year old Wladyslaw Moes ) who became the model for Tadzio.

Der Tod in Venedig (Death in Venice), first printing, 1912

Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 25, 2009 at 12:01 am

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