Thursday, June 26, 2008

Authentic accents in audiobooks

Evaluating audiobooks? Here are some great resources if you want to check the authenticity of an accent or dialect. The phenomenal Speech Accent Archive from George Mason University's Program in Linguistics is the first stop to tune your ear to the cadence of speech from any area around the world. You must give it a try! Just click on the world map in the link above and listen to a native speaker. Or you may search by language, and then choose a voice. For instance, when I searched for Afrikaans, I found the selections below:

afrikaans1, female, virginia, south africa

afrikaans2, male, pretoria, south africa

afrikaans3, male, pretoria, transvaal, south africa

There is also the International Dialects of English website, a project of Paul Meier, a leading dialect coach for theatre and film. Or for audiobooks set in the UK, try the British Sound Library collection of the dialects and accents of England and Wales.

And to check pronunciation of English (and many foreign words), I like the online dictionary from Merriam-Webster, where you can click & hear the word spoken.

And if you aren't quite sure what accents and dialects are, take a look at this video from VoiceCasting that focuses on voice-acting for advertising.

Image from


Laura said...

Brilliant! What a cool resource!

Mary Burkey said...

Glad you found this post, Laura, and that you will be able to use this fantastic resource!

Kate Reading said...

Hi Mary, I narrate audiobooks (Kate Reading). Thanks for the resource. Do you know an on-line pronunciation resource for place names and people's names? That often stumps me!

simon prebble said...

As a professional audiobook narrator, this site
invaluable. Many thanks.

Mary Burkey said...

Wow! Comments from Kate Reading & Simon Prebble - high praise, indeed. And here is a post for Kate:

Thanks for reading!