Voice map shows Britons aren’t being ‘Americanised’

A voice mapping project by the British Library has collected thousands of voice samples from around the world. Speakers have recorded either six specific words, or Roger Hargreaves’s classic Mr Tickle*. Recordings are tagged with the place that the speaker grew up in, their age, and their gender. The map is based on the location the recording was made in (not the place the speaker comes from).

There are a lot of ways to look at this information, besides general interest and keeping a record of the way English is spoken todya. I read an interesting article about the fact that British accents aren’t being ‘Americanised’ (to be honest, I hadn’t heard that people were worried about the Americanisation of British accents or pronunciation, but apparently some people are). Based on the six words, controversy, garage, neither, scone, schedule, and attitude, investigations have shown that British people are definitely still pronouncing words differently from Americans. It’s interesting to note, though, that there is a tendency for British pronunciations to change, while American pronunciation remains the same.

The project also includes a lot of recordings from non-native speakers of English, which may help linguists to predict the direction of English pronunciation in the future.

The Voice Map project is on for a couple more days if you want to participate (you will need to have or register for an Audioboo account). If you’re interested in my recording, click here. If you want to explore the voice map, click here.

*Click here to learn more about why this book was chosen.

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