Dialect, Language

Can you guess the accent? (Quiz)

choirA few weeks ago, Quartz writer Nikhil Sonnad wrote an article about the Speech Accent Archive – a project by Steven Weinberger, a professor of linguistics at George Mason University.

Weinberger asked people from all over the world to record themselves reading a particular paragraph (chosen because its 69 words cover most sounds in the English language) to see how English is used/pronounced throughout the world.

Quartz pulled a few of the recordings and designed a quiz. I scored abysmal 50% but, hopefully you can do better. Take the quiz here, and let me know how it goes!

It’s interesting to wonder: Why do we have this skill in the first place? Not only can we recognize accents as “not ours,” but it seems like most of us can also place these accents with relative accuracy. Why do you think our brains developed that skill? And more importantly, as indicated by my atrocious quiz score, why do I seem to lack it? 🙂


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3 thoughts on “Can you guess the accent? (Quiz)”

  1. I got 75% accuracy. I think this is probably because I recognized many of the sounds from the various languages that my students speak. I could picture a specific student speaking and then I just had to pair that with where they are from. Linguistics is a fascinating subject! I enjoy studying various dialects from around the US and the multiple sounds of world languages. I first started studying this when I worked on my English Language Learners (ELL) endorsement at SDSU.

  2. Wow I got 11/12. It’s pretty amazing how you can tell from the accent and also by how people pronounce (or mis-pronounce) certain English letters or words based on what their first language is. For example, with Japanese I notice that l’s and r’s sound similar, South African I notice a slight British accent underneath, Singaporean I notice that t’s sound more like d’s, etc.

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