A question I get asked a lot (as anyone with a passion for accents and dialects is probably asked) is whether there are any varieties of English I haven’t heard. There’s no easy answer, of course, since accents aren’t clearly defined collectibles like postage stamps or baseball cards.
Ergo, I’ll admit I’ve never listened the accent of Three Rivers, Michigan, nor the dialect of Forfar, Scotland. That’s not to say that I don’t have an idea, given what I know about the Scottish and Michigan English, of what both might sound like. But there are countless local variations and quirks to account for, making this question something of a nonstarter.
That being said, there are a few accents and dialects that I’ve either never heard, or haven’t heard enough of to identify their salient features. These are:
1.) The Bonac Accent. This curious term refers to a local accent once spoken in the Hamptons in Long Island. Due to the influx of wealthy outsiders to the area over the past half-century, the accent apparently faces extinction.
I’ve been pointed to a few reported clips of Bonac accents, yet I’ve never really gotten an idea of what it is, or how it differs from the rest of Long Island. My impression is that it shares some features with New England English, but I’m unclear as to what specifically makes it unique.
2.) Shelta. This is the language of the Travellers, a nomadic culture in Ireland. Whether Shelta can be called a dialect, creole or simply a language is a topic I couldn’t possibly broach. Regardless, I’ve yet to find a really good clip of Shelta, a problem no doubt compounded by the isolated nature of the Traveller community. Although 28 seconds into this news story from Al Jazeera, I would note that they seem to have a rather unique accent:
3.) Non-Rhotic Canadian Accents. For years, I’ve read and heard rumors of accents in the Atlantic Provinces that ‘drop their r’s’ the way New Englanders do. This might make sense, given New Brunswick’s proximity to r-less Maine. But have I ever heard an Atlantic Canadian do this? No. If anyone knows of someone with such an accent, let me know.
Any other accents or dialect you’ve been unable to find samples of?