Accent and incomprehension

Yesterday I posted an entry on incomprehension and the incomprehensible in language classes. I thought I would follow up with this map of North American accents.

AmericanEnglishDialectsWhile the map looks complex at first glance (and you can see the whole fascinating project here), the range of possible accents in North America is fairly narrow when compared with that of the British Isles – range of accent or dialect is typically a function of isolation and time, neither of which have pertained to the same degree in the USA.

The BBC has a project under way to document the various Englishes spoken in the UK (including non-native speakers using English). You can browse a map of the accents here – particularly impenetrable to me are those from Glasgow (here) – although it is all relative; I once spent an evening in a bar in Glasgow talking to a local, and he had as great difficulty understanding me as I him (regular readers will remember that I speak fast; perhaps I also speak a little jumbled after a few beers).

There’s a post about accent and class over on our sister blog, From where I sit, which you can read here


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