Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Sound of English

We hear repeatedly that English is the language of business around the globe.   It is one of the three languages (along with German and French) most often used for business within the European Union.  Teaching English is big business.  Even Disney is in the business with 15 schools in China (

But the idea that everyone knows English doesn’t always mean that we can all understand each other.  The sound of spoken English,  how we sound  even when pronouncing the same words as others varies depending  in part on our mother tongue.   To hear the variety of   the world’s English long on to The Speech Accent Archive, (  a site that collects and displays hundreds of accent samples from around the world.

Steven Weinberger, a professor of linguistics at George Mason University is the creator and administer of the site.  He wrote a 69-word paragraph, which he says contains almost every sound in English. Native and non-native speakers from around the world were recorded reading the paragraph and you can hear them on the site.

Click on the maps and you’ll be able to hear the voices of people form over 100 countries.  Listen to the sound of English when spoken by people who fist spoke French or Flemish, Polish or Icelandic, Zulu or Yuri.   Enjoy exploring the sounds of familiar words spoken in distinctive ways.  A common language shared around the world.

No comments: