The speech accent archive has 264 speech samples of people from many linguistic backgrounds reading the same paragraph.

The speech accent archive is established to uniformly exhibit a large set of speech accents from a variety of language backgrounds. Native and non-native speakers of English all read the same English paragraph and are carefully recorded. The archive is constructed as a teaching tool and as a research tool. It is meant to be used by linguists as well as other people who simply wish to listen to and compare the accents of different english speakers. It allows users to compare the demographic and linguistic backgrounds of the speakers in order to determine which variables are key predictors of each accent. The speech accent archive demonstrates that accents are systematic rather than merely mistaken speech.

Via MetaFilter.

The paragraph is:

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.


  1. Anybody who reads the paragraph going, “Okay, they’re looking at *that* feature, and *that* feature, and *that* feature — hmm, that’s interesting, they missed *this*…” automatically gets extra Linguist Geek cred.

  2. dungbeetle says

    Accent: mine is layered, with many differing layers, The Americans peg me for British, and some times Australian. But the British believe that I am Californian who is an imposter(and not a good one at that) posing as a Limey: They cannot beleive that I was brainwashed by them for the first third of my Journey through life.

  3. My accent is pretty much Midwestern US, acquired during early childhood in Kansas and Ohio with parents from Nebraska and Iowa. Somehow I never completely lost it even though I lived in northern Virginia from the age of four through high school. I think that part of it is that by the mid-1970s, northern Virginia had been so colonized by government workers and others from elsewhere that I heard a mixture of many different accents all the time. Many had the classic accent exhibited by the guy from Fairfax in the archive, but it was far from universal.
    I find myself taking on a few New England pronunciations these days– the vowel distinction between “horror” and “whore” is useful– but my accent seems much more resistant to wholesale replacement than those of some people who move from one place to another.
    None of the people in that archive talk like me, but some native Northeasterners find my accent indistinguishable from that of a Minnesotan.

  4. I am interested in finding out more about the Virginia accent of late 1700s through the civil war. I am portraying a character of this time period and have been asked to sing in this accent-“if at all possible.”

  5. Hey matt, it’s strange b/c I lived in Fairfax, VA since I was 4-19 and now I’m in Chicago. Everyone in Chicago says I have a noticalby southern accent but when I lived in Columbus everyone thought I was local. Europeans/Australians have mistaken my accent as European. I haven’t a clue what’s happened?

  6. Nice to see this is still going after all these years; they now say “a large set of speech samples” (as opposed to the “264 speech samples” in the post), so I guess it’s like McDonald’s giving up and going with “Billions and Billions Served.”

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