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  1. #1
    Lewis's Avatar
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    What's this accent?

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    I was curious.

    I downloaded the Librivox recording of a 17th century treatise translated from the Spanish entitled Chocolate, an Indian Drink.

    I should have known better.

    There's some curious information buried in there, but you know what 17th-century people are like: they "prove" something by argument based on definitions rather than by investigation. Chocolate is "hot and dry" but also "moist and cold". It is obviously compounded of quicksilver and sulphur. Good grief, I hope not, since "quicksilver" is mercury ...

    Anyway, what I wondered about is this: what is this lady's accent?

    LibriVox » Chocolate: or, An Indian Drinke

    I mean the one reading Section 3. She doesn't sound at all like jimmy Moore, for example.

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    Well... she's not from Tennessee I can tell you that much.
    Vaguely possibly southern? But working hard to cover it if she is.
    My bet... she is Librivoxing as part of voice training herself OUT of an identifiable accent.

    Some of my favorite Librivox recordings, which I sometimes listen to before I sleep... the Joel Chandler Harris/Uncle Remus stories.
    I think maybe it's a Mark Smith that reads them pretty well...
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    Last edited by cori93437; 09-13-2012 at 10:39 AM.
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    Sounds vaguely Southern US, especially in the beginning when she says her name. Can't say more than that, I'm not super familiar with US accents beyond New England and New York.
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    Sounds like she has a cajun accent (Louisiana, Mississippi, etc.) but it sounds like she's trying to hide it to be as non-regional in her voice-work.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    Well... she's not from Tennessee I can tell you that much.
    Vaguely possibly southern? But working hard to cover it if she is.
    Yeah, I got that far.

    Jimmy I take it not only lives in South Carolina but is from there. Yet, if he were to say "but" it would sound to my ears like "Bert". But this lady has a "short u" like people do in South-East England. She also has tendency to make "I" (as in "eye") sound like Ah, which Jimmy doesn't seem to do.

    Do "Southern" accents vary a lot?

    I think maybe it's a Mark Smith that reads them pretty well...
    I'm currently listening to W. H. Hudson's Green Mansions, which is a suggestion of the month on the Librivox M4B catalogue:

    M4B Catalog - Librivox Wiki

    Now that's read by a man describing himself as "Mark Smith of Simpsonville, South Carolina". But he doesn't sound particularly "southern" to me -- although I guess accents are moving targets.

    It's an interesting book, though. It's interesting how Hudson, an accomplished naturalist and nature writer, is emotionally distant from the native population -- "savages". He imagines a lighter-skinned "lost race" who are vegetarian -- shades of She! I think Rider Haggard's Ayesha was fair-skinned and ate fruit -- who I suppose symbolize some kind of aspiration to find a closeness with the rest of nature that yet doesn't include eating much of it. Very interesting. I suppose we're still living with some emotional connections made back then. Hudson actually gave me some interesting insight into the emotional world I suppose vegetarians inhabit: he has some techniques around the "rank" smell of meat and a scene where an old man eats "with the dogs" that kind of open that way of feeling to you. And yet I'll bet Hudson tucked into a chop for breakfast as well as the average Edwardian did.

    Very well read by "Mark Smith of Simpsonville, South Carolina" anyway.

  6. #6
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    Yes, "Southern" accents vary a great deal.

    The "South" is a very large geographic area, and pockets of certain cultural backgrounds were isolated for periods in the early periods of American settlement. It influenced the variation in tone and inflection of local populations use of English, and word choice as well.

    IMO "Southern" accent varies as much across the "South" as the English accent varies across England.

    As to Mark Smith from Simpsonville SC, yes, that's him.
    If you were to listen to his Uncle Remus recording you would get a better feel for his native speech I believe since those stories are close to home.

    Most educated Southerners make at least some effort to polish the "Southern" out of their accent due to the fact that it is so highly associated with being ignorant and/or just plain stupid. Even though we all know that accent has NOTHING to do with mental ability. That's the way the world perceives it, so we work to scrub it clean.
    I suppose the same goes for those raised in the burbs of Jersey or Boston though...
    Last edited by cori93437; 09-13-2012 at 11:11 AM.
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    I find it's entirely possible to speak without an accent when one tries. When in the company of intelligent people I tend to speak quite eloquently, in fact. Whenever I'm annoyed or simply in the company of fools that tendency vanishes, though, and I'm back to my good old somewhat Irish accent.
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    I don't know that it's possible to speak without an accent. You would be speaking in monotone, like an old-school robot. I think I get what you are saying though, Alex.

    Cori, in my experience, New England accents aren't hidden or masked. Kids in my schools usually flaunted them as a point of pride. I did not grow up with an accent, though I think certain words/at times, I give myself away. The emphasis on the first syllable in "Boston" and saying "accent" are my worst offenders, I think, usually only if I'm excited. Otherwise, I've been told I just sound plain American.

    For fun, I made this for another forum back in January. I think I sound a little Southern when I get nervous in front of the camera.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    Most educated Southerners make at least some effort to polish the "Southern" out of their accent due to the fact that it is so highly associated with being ignorant and/or just plain stupid.
    That's a shame. It does sound to me as if that lady is moderating her voice a little, as several people here commented, but I think she sounds lovely and even more so when some local character comes through. And, actually, I think she sounds rather "cultivated". But I'm not sure why, and maybe that's a foreign ear hearing that.

    To my ear some American women can sound a little harsh: I had to turn the volume down on part one of the chocolate recording, and the woman who introduces the Audible recordings grates on my ear. But I think I could listen to some of those southern women all day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewis View Post
    But I think I could listen to some of those southern women all day.
    You're forgetting the rule: Any woman with a sexy voice will sound sexy. It's much like how James Earl Jones would sound manly even if he had a french accent.
    In all of the universe there is only one person with your exact charateristics. Just like there is only one person with everybody else's characteristics. Effectively, your uniqueness makes you pretty average.

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