The lost art of concentration
6 June 2010
Radio drama
9 June 2010

Stella!

You may not think you would like to hear the following paragraph spoken aloud 1,300 times, or even once, but read on to change your mind:

“Please call Stella. Ask her to bring these things with her from the store: six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese, and maybe a snack for her brother Bob. We also need a small plastic snake and a big toy frog for the kids. She can scoop these things into three red bags, and we will go meet her Wednesday at the train station.”

The Speech Accent Archive at George Mason University in Virginia has collected all those samples to create a map of accents of native and non-native English speakers, and not just in the United States. The archive people might have chosen a passage a bit more … uplifting for the template, but that’s their linguistic business. You can go straight to the archive, pick your region, and listen to the varieties of human speech. And you can read it yourself and submit your sample to the archive. But first, please call Stella about the snow peas.

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