Dialectically Speaking…

Most voice actors can pull an accent out of their hip pocket with varying levels of authority.  But Dialects done well take practice.

My friend Peter Bishop often rails against the so-called “Brit” accent that many Americans claim they can do. For 99% of them he offers a failing grade with the admonition that he doesn’t try to do American, so Americans should not try to do British.

He may have a real point…but…

Does it hurt to try?

As geographical, cultural, and language boundaries blur, having a modicum of understanding of another language is a plus.  For voice-actors, more and more auditions are showing up with directions that involve foreign words in the copy.

At least knowing how to pronounce exotic names, places, and words is a minimum.  Carrying off a convincing word or phrase or whole sentence requires a bit more.

Not always can you find a native of Albania to give you a sense of how they might say perfectly legitimate English words in an ALBANIAN accent.

That’s when the International Dialects of English Archive might come in handy.  Paul Meier, a professor emeritus at the Univ of Kansas started this resource.  It’s an unbelievably thorough treatment of dialects from an amazing assortment of people of many lands.  Ages, gender, and locations are provided for each voice sample listed.

Granted, some of the recordings are sub-par, but in most cases, the nuance of the accent or dialect can be  easily discerned.  I was floored by this resource when I found it.

There are other such sites, and here is a short list:

Speech Accent Archive

American English Dialect Recordings

North American English Dialects

 Go ahead, try to find out how a Kazakh might say: “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun”.

CourVO

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