English 432/433


Sampling Language


This essay will involve research on a second short passage of spoken language from the modern era. You will need to provide a close analysis of the sound and dialect features in your selected passage; if there are pronunciations which suggest to you that the speaker is using a certain regional or ethnic accent, you should listen to these words and phrases closely. Idiomatic phrases, catch phrases, and other unusual locutions may also be of help; consult the Dictionary of American Regional English if available. Try to transcribe the signifcant phonological variations which you hear in the passage, and use these transcriptions as evidence. What would you assume to be the social background, class, and level of education of the speaker? Why? What would you say would be the target audience of the speaker? Try to account as fully as you can for the social context of the utterance, but resist the urge to do detailed biographical research -- or at least put it off until you have figured out all you can from the sample alone.

NB: If you choose an actor, poet, or singer, you will also need to locate a reference recording of that same person speaking informally. All performers alter their speech and accent when performing, and so it's vital to also have some sense of what underlying accentual patterns are natural for that speaker or singer.

Papers should be 3-4 pages in length. You may locate your own source using homemade recordings, found sounds, or the lyrics of hip-hop or spoken word recordings. YouTube is certainly one invaluable resource, but there area also other sound archives you might want to consider, particularly for older recordings:

Library of Congress National Jukebox -- used advanced search and select "Spoken"

Vincent Voice Library

Tinfoil.com (keyword search for "talk")

Earth Station One