LINGUIST List 5.497

Sat 30 Apr 1994

Disc: Accents

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. ALICE FABER, Accents
  2. Charles F Juengling, Re: 5.483 Accents
  3. , Re: 5.483 Accents
  4. Deborah D K Ruuskanen, Accent, imitation and impersonation

Message 1: Accents

Date: Wed, 27 Apr 1994 21:15:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Accents
Unlike Benji Wald, I'm not QUITE ready to read Staten Island out of NYC (and
the issue's disappeared from the NY local news of late). In line with the
observation that some NYC speakers are starting to show evidence of some
Chicago/Rochester (aka Northern Cities) phenomena, particularly with regard to
fronting of /a/ in HOT, I've recently started hearing scattered instances of
backing of /^/ in BUS and CUT. Labov has some very striking recordings of
Chicago speakers producing BUS so that it sounds like BOSS in isolation (at
least to me). These NY examples aren't as extreme, but they were outside my
suburban /^/ category, and so produced a double take. The speakers I heard on
the radio are most likely from Staten Island; the context was a story about a
bus accident on Staten Island in which the bus had to be cut open in order to
extricate passengers and the speaker was male.
On another note, various people have offered Tracy Ullman as an example of
someone who can adequately imitate non-native dialects. I can't comment on all
of her vocal guises, but a year or so ago she made a series of radio ads for
Virgin Atlantic airlines in which she "did" various New York City accents.
None of them sounded particularly authentic to me. The target accents were
identifiable more on the basis of social stereotypes associated with them. The
one I recall was supposed to be a "Jewish mother" and was identifiable on the
basis of the guilt trip. There were other ethnicities also, but that's the
only one I remember.
Alice Faber
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Message 2: Re: 5.483 Accents

Date: Wed, 27 Apr 1994 22:27:11 -0500 (CDT)
From: Charles F Juengling <>
Subject: Re: 5.483 Accents
for Paul Werth-- The latest editon of _English Today_ (I forget the
author's name) has an article on "Estuary English."
for Mary Ellen Ryder--
The article entitled "English in the North of Ireland" by John Harris in
Trudgill, Peter. _Language in the British Isles_ Cambridge UP, 1984. is
For audio samples, see (hear):
 "In a Manner of Speaking" is the audio tape which accompanies J.C.
Wells' 3 vol. set _Accents of English_ Cambridge UP, 1982.
Trudgill, Peter and Jean Hannah. _International English_ University Park
Press. New edition has just come out. Audio tape is available.
_English with a Dialect and Irish, Scottish and Welsh Accents_. BBC 1971
Those items should do the trick.
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Message 3: Re: 5.483 Accents

Date: Wed, 27 Apr 1994 21:18:34 -0700 (MST)
Subject: Re: 5.483 Accents
It's very shaky business comparing Puerto Rican and African-American accents
in the Bronx.
Regarding raising in New York and in the Great Lakes Region, I would like to
bring up two points. First, the raising in both areas may be indigenous.
It would be fascinating to see (hear) some early recordings from the
various regions. Has anyone done such research?
Second, the accents may be quite different aside from that. It would be
good to hear from some Buffalo and Detroit people regarding this, but
I think I should subscribe to the list frequented by the American Dialect
Society for such discussion. Please tell me if I can take this
thread elsewhere.
Bill King University of Arizona
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Message 4: Accent, imitation and impersonation

Date: Mon, 25 Apr 94 14:49:13 +0200
From: Deborah D K Ruuskanen <>
Subject: Accent, imitation and impersonation
Whilst the discussion on accent and imitation is still fresh in
everybody's mind, I wish to repeat a request for info which I first
made approx two months ago (and yielded barely a handful of responses).
I am desparately seeking info/references regarding imitation and
impersonation, primarily from a phonetic, phonological, lg acqusition
and cognitive/ neurolinguistic perspective. This request is made after
hours and hours of searching to little avail, and some help from a few
on linguist list (thank you). There must (?!) be more research out
there, or is this area still only regarded as amusing coffee-table
A number of relevant issues have popped up in comments by contributors
to the 'Accents' discussion, such as:
* misidentification of specific elements of an accent as being another
* conscious and subconscious adaptation of accent,
* failure on the part of actors to identify all characteristics of an
and there are, of course, a multitude of other issues (especially
relating to impersonation -- speaker recognition).
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Duncan Markham.
PS: Laurie Bauer asked about 'sangwich' -- In Australian English the
full word is usually said with the bilabial nasal, but an abbreviated
form with the velar exists: 'sanga'.
Dept of Linguistics and Phonetics, Lund University, Sweden.
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