English accents

The other day, some friends and I talked about how different English sounds from different countries. One of the friends is from Australia. The other is from New Zealand. Not only are their accents different – so are their vocabularies and the meanings behind them.

That got me interested enough to find this. It’s a video of an actress who mimics 21 different English accents. See if you can pick out her real one. From there, I checked out her website, 21Accents.com, specifically this page where she shares how she breaks down each accent to learn it.

I love this stuff.

What struck me, though, as I watched the videos is that she’s left out hundreds of other English accents. Some examples that came to mind:

  • South African
  • Indian
  • Jamaican
  • Ghanaian
  • Tanzanian

I’ve heard all these recently (For even more, check this list on Wikipedia for even more). On top of that, you have all the hybrids, like a Hispanic person speaking English or a Korean person speaking English.

And then it starts to get fun when, say, a Korean person learns English in New Zealand or a Japanese person learns English in southern California from her Texan boyfriend.

I’m not making this up. These aren’t just accents to me. They’re my friends.

Which is what eventually led me to The Worldwide Accent Project. It’s a project that’s trying to gather English accents from around the world. Here’s the passage everyone in the project is supposed to read:

“See above those clouds, near where the blue sky appears to fold? Some say it is the entrance to the floating isles where pirates still rule the air and dragons choose to live. Only the most skilled pilots can sail their craft close enough to even glimpse the light coming from within. You can’t find those who know the way; they find you. Rather, you four lazy tourists must learn from your books and be ready, so that you may not miss an opportunity to travel to that mysterious place. It would be an adventure that you would never forget. Now, I think that’s enough with this pleasurable story telling. Go home and join your aunt – she’s cooking fine food!”

Why not add your own accent to the project? (And if you do, definitely let me know so I can hear it.)

So, there’s a lot to check out: the 21 accents lady, her tips for mimicking accents, and the accents in the Worldwide Accent Project.

Lastly, here’s my own take on the Project. Some people say I have an accent, like from Kentucky. Others ask why I don’t. Just from this reading, what do you think?