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Looking for a Dialect? Try IDEA

“The International Dialects of English Archive [IDEA] was created in 1997 as the first online archive of primary-source recordings of English dialects and accents as heard around the world.” Founded by Paul Meier, IDEA was originally started as a way to help actors practice character speech, but has become popular for any number of other uses. Dialects can be selected from a global mapping image or from drop-down menus. Each recording provides background information of each speaker – age, place of birth, date of birth, occupation, ethnicity, level of education – as the information is available. IDEA accepts submissions; full guidelines are available on the site.

IDEA also has a Special Collections section which includes General American (“Comma Gets a Cure” recordings), Holocaust Survivors, Native Americans, Oral Histories (native speakers talking about the places they live), Phonetic Transcriptions, Play Names & Terms (sound files of native speakers pronouncing place names, people names, and idioms from well-known plays often produced in the theatre), Received Pronunciation (“Comma Gets a Cure” recordings from British speech professionals), and Speech and Voice Disorders (a short essay by Joanna Cazden discussing the use of disability speech characteristics in oral productions).

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