One of my favourite games, called into play to allay the tedium of supermarket shopping, is to guess the origin of foreign languages before I’m near enough to hear the words. What’s this nonsense, I hear you read. But really, you can tell from the tunes. However this becomes more difficult when foreign nationals are speaking English, as the mixture of our words to their tunes tends to hide the traces. Try out your ear on this online spot the accent quiz.
Thanks to Omniglot for the link.
How good is your ear for accents? How different do you think one word could sound in a variety of accents? A new interactive site entitled Sound Comparisons by Edinburgh University in conjunction with the Arts & Humanities Research Council allows you to hear the same word uttered in dozens of accents. I tried out the word “brother” and was amazed at the differences.
Some of the pages are slow to load and using Firefox over Internet Explorer is recommended – but not as highly as downloading the entire site – which I’ve just done.
I’d say it’s impossible to cultivate a musical ear without being sensitive to the subtle changes in pitch and timbre which distinguish accents. Perhaps that’s why so many impressionists are musical.