Dialexicon: map of US accents by county

Damien Hall djh514 at YORK.AC.UK
Sat Dec 19 18:23:08 UTC 2009

The following notice appeared in the LINGUIST List noticeboard which I have
just received; people here might be interested to know that it exists, at
least. Dialexicon is a website whose author aims to collect (by 'phone) and
make recordings of a short word-list, one from each county in the US. Not
many are done yet; the author posted the notice to ask for linguists' help
in populating the map.


As far as I can see, though, the work being done here is (so far) of little
use dialectologically, as the sample isn't at all controlled. I haven't
called the toll-free number you have to call to leave your word-list, but
nowhere on the site does it mention that you have to be from the county you
are claiming to represent, nor does it say that you will be asked this when
you call. It's also not clear to me why the particular items on the
word-list have been chosen: why include _cheese_, for example? I don't
think that pronunciation of /i/ varies much across the US (does it?), nor
do the pronunciations of those consonants. (There might be some variability
in voicing, particularly of the last consonant, but I'm not sure it would
be geographically-distributed.) I have written to the author of the site
and made these points in less cutting terms; we'll see what the response

FWIW, anyway, even if it's not clear W it will be W, if anything, just yet.



Dear Linguists,

I am writing to invite you to visit and help populate my accent website.
Dialexicon.com is newly launched in its beta stage: it is a website that
will showcase the American accent. On the site there is a map of the U. S.,
broken down into counties. My goal is to populate the site with one accent
from each county in the U. S. I have very far to go and I'd like your help.
If you know someone or are someone with an accent that people ask about or
imitate, add that accent to the website.

To participate you must call a toll free number and speak a list of ten
words, just as though you are leaving a message on an answering machine.
You don't need any fancy devices, just a phone. Then you must enter in your
zip code (and former zip codes if you've moved) so that we can add your
accent to the map. It is also necessary to include the phone number from
which you called. If you do not include that number I will not be able to
match your data record to the accent. Rest assured that I will not be using
the information you've given me for anything except this website: see the
privacy policy on the site for more information.

I am hoping that you will find this website entertaining and helpful once
the site is populated with more accents.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you for your help.

Katey Szum

Damien Hall

University of York
Department of Language and Linguistic Science
YO10 5DD

Tel. (office) +44 (0)1904 432665
     (mobile) +44 (0)771 853 5634
Fax  +44 (0)1904 432673



The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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