What Happened to My Accent?

Being a nerdy kind of man, I downloaded an English dialects app yesterday. If anyone's interested it's called EN English or the English Dialect App and it was developed by linguists at the Universities of Bern and Cambridge. According to the app, which attempts to guess where you were brought up from a number of pronunciation questions, my accent is from the north-east of England. Now, that is incredibly inaccurate, 100s of miles out, which, I guess, goes to show how much my accent has changed since I left Ringwood in the 1980s.You might say my accent has been stretched northwards. Perhaps that, being the nearest part of England to Edinburgh, is the closest the app could find.

Anyway, looking at the details was quite interesting. The app's predictions are based on the Survey of English Dialects which was conducted in the 1950s. In that survey they interviewed hundreds of older people from the English regions, mostly farm workers, in order to make a map of dialects and accents as they were in the first part of the 20th Century. There was an entry for Burley in the New Forest to which I compared my responses to the 26 questions. Mine only differed to that original 1950 New Forest accent and vocabulary on a few key points. Most crucially, perhaps, I don't pronounce the 'r' in arm, where the Forest accent does, I say 'himself' instead of 'hisself,' and I would say "Give me it" rather than "Give it to me." Another couple of differences were the pronunciation of the 'i' in 'five': I say /ai/ and the original accent is a longer vowel; and I would ever say, "He do feed the ducks" while, in Burley at least they do (or did).

So, if your interested in the app, you can find it at the AppStore or Google Play. It's got loads and loads of information in it. And you can record your own voice and submit it to the latest survey. Apparently, when hey released a similar app in Switzerland over 80,000 people took part in the research. Very interesting stuff. To a nerd like me, anyhow.