Donate Your Accent!
If you’d like to donate your accent to my research and teaching library, here are two sample passages to record yourself reading, and some suggested questions to answer for a sample of extemporaneous speech. (Please do record both the passages and some extemporaneous speech.) When you’ve recorded your sample (a phone recording is fine—just check the quality before you record the whole thing), click the button at the bottom of the page to sign a release allowing me to use your sample. You can send the sample to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for being willing to donate your accent! As a small thank you, I’ll send you a discount code good for 15% off anything sold on this site once you’ve sent in your sample, as well as a small accent-related gift . :)
All About Foxes*
The quick brown fox took four small sips of strong coffee.
Oh boy, Kathy! Father is mad as hell! Why did you lie? You’re not even sorry.
Carry these cheeses to the train before it’s too late!
That fluffy little kitten slashed the cotton sofa apart! And now her poor paw is hurt! Dear me!
Do you fear death, fair one?
Cut the flow! Now! The bathroom is underwater! Get the bags!
Where would you go, do you think, if the earth turns cold? Will you walk north?
Hurry it up! Does anybody take pride in their work anymore? People are sheep.
Two students planted big fir trees all around the zoo.
Where is the tailor? Did he hem the orange pants?
I’ve discovered the perfect poison. It attacks the organs.
It sure is nice to fish. because it makes me feel calm, you know? Just look at those trout!
Spread the news: we’re planning a party!
The jury is not going to follow the rule.
Do you think ten o’clock is early for lunch?
Dali’s Last Hurrah* (optional)
What frosty land is this?
How was its fate decided?
Coal-black mountains loom;
Glassy pools reflect their huge, queer forms.
A bird-like woman searches slowly through the trees;
Flocks of trembling sparrows cluster about blood-red barns.
I feel the flashing claws of chalk-white terror rip at my breath.
My courage fails.
A furious, hoarse voice whispers from the inky shadows,
“He knew his duty. We cannot be afraid.”
Fighting a fog of sudden nightmare visions—
Sleek otters, subtle as jazz—
I struggle to recall the verse drama of old—
My heart turns to ice.
Please also record a sample of you speaking easily and naturally about something that is interesting or pleasurable to you. You shouldn’t worry at all about how you sound or whether you are speaking ‘correctly,’ or anything of the sort. Ideally, you will even forget you are recording yourself. It may help to ask a friend to be present and even ask you questions. You can talk about anything at all, as long as it is likely to elicit natural, engaged speech, but in case it’s useful, here are some sample questions you might answer (or have a friend ask you). You don’t have to answer all the questions, or even any of these. These are just suggestions.
How do you feel about your accent, dialect, or language?
How do you you think other people feel about your accent, dialect, or language?
What was it like growing up in your hometown?
What was your favorite thing to do when you were growing up?
If I had a single afternoon to spend in your hometown, what should I do? What’s the one thing I shouldn’t miss?
(If you no longer live in your country or hometown) what do you miss most about it?
Is there any food particular to your home that you miss or that you really love or loved when you were growing up? Can you tell me how to make it?
Did your mother, father, grandmother, or someone else in your house do the cooking when you were growng up? What was your favorite thing that they made? Did you watch them? Did they let you help or teach you how to make it? Can you tell me how to make it?
Tell me about music from your country or culture. Are there any artists or bands you think the world should know about and appreciate?
How do you feel about being from your country or culture? Do you feel proud, conflicted? Something else? Why? What about your country or culture makes you feel this way?
What stereotypes do you think people have about your culture, country, or people? Are they accurate or inaccurate?
Do you have a favorite novelist, poet, or playwright who writes in your language or is from where you’re from? Why do you like them? What work or works of theirs would you recommend to someone interested in learning about your country or culture?
Language (if your first language is not English)
Would you please answer one or more of the above questions speaking in your native language?
If you have a favorite poem or passage from literature in your native language, would you please record yourself speaking it? (Song lyrics are fine, too!). There’s no need to provide a translation, but please tell me the author and the name of the work.
Would you share some slang from your native language or dialect with me? (Offensive or vulgar language is perfectly okay, if you’re comfortable sharing it.) If you’re willing, would you please provide a rough translation of each word or phrase as well?
What would someone from your culture or country say (in anger) to someone who cut them off in traffic or almost ran them over?
* All About Foxes and Dali’s Last Hurrah are Copyright © 2016 Erik Singer and Knight-Thompson Speechwork, All Rights Reserved, and may be used freely for any purpose without additional authorization, provided the present sentence accompanies the passage in print, if reproduced in print, and in audio format, in the case of a sound recording.