Monthly Archives: April 2013

Why D.A.R.E. Is Important

In the 1960s, an enterprising young linguist named William Labov travelled to Martha’s Vineyard to study a curious feature of the island’s local vernacular. Vineyard natives tended to centralize the diphthongs in words like “house” and “kite” (həʊs and kəɪt), … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged | 3 Comments

“Every Man Thinks He’s a Tenor In Cork”

In my college “dialects” class, our instructor played a recording of a talented Irish actor imitating various Irish regional accents. When he got to Cork, he wryly observed, “In Cork, the voice always seems to be higher–every man thinks he’s … Continue reading


Posted in Irish English | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Race and “Voice Quality:” A Skeptic’s Viewpoint

During an unrelated Google search the other day, I stumbled upon this Yahoo Answers query: Can you tell someone’s race from the sound of their voice? I was wondering if you could tell if someone was white or black etc by hearing … Continue reading


Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , | 34 Comments

Dived vs. Dove in American Dialects

The past tense of “dive” exemplifies the quirky differences between American and British English. In Britain, this word is ostensibly “dived,” while Americans increasingly prefer “dove,” the latter likely formed via analogy from drive/drove (Insert joke about America’s auto-centric culture … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged | 9 Comments

The Death of Drama School Accent Enforcement

Although I enjoy the series Downton Abbey, I know little about the personal lives of its cast members. So the other day, after watching a program on PBS, I was startled by a promo interview with the actress who plays … Continue reading


Posted in British English | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Northeastern PA’s “Un-Northeastern” Accent

While a college freshman, I assumed one of my classmates to be from Minnesota or Wisconsin (my accent-dar was unsophisticated back then). She hailed from Scranton, Pennsylvania, however, a city a mere two hours from New York City. You might … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , | 9 Comments