Learning a Boston Accent
WHAT WILL YOU DOWNLOAD?
The download contains sixty-two (62) minutes of systematic instruction in MP3 sound files. You’ll also get a printable PDF of the instruction manual. It contains summaries of the audio lessons and full transcripts of the drill words, phrases, and passages.
WHAT WILL YOU LEARN?
You will learn the general Boston accent, recognizable to many North American English speakers. This accent comes in two general styles, differing in resonance placement and clarity of articulation. There are still strong similarities within Boston, surrounding parts of Massachusetts, and other New England areas. Here’s a brief summary of the training.
- Lesson 1 teaches you the resonance or voice placement of the Boston accent. In other words, it shows you how to shape your mouth to create the sound focus of its “open” and “muffled” versions.
- Lesson 2 deals with this accent’s relative lack of internal vowel lilts or inflections.
- Lesson 3 shows you how to produce Boston’s characteristic vowels. These sounds are easier to learn by extending them out of or embedding them into the resonance and muscularity you learned in Lesson 1.
- Lesson 4 shows you how to drop R sounds that follow Boston vowels. But you’ll also learn how some final R’s remain as they glide into words that begin with vowels. You’ll also learn the times when R sounds can intrude between words when there’s no R in the spelling.
- Lesson 5 puts it all together with several drill passages. Initially, it reminds you about the voice placement. Further, it walks you through the pronunciation phrase by phrase before leading you into a normal speaking pace.
MORE ABOUT THE BOSTON ACCENT
Many actors confuse NYC and Boston accents and slip from one to the other. Despite that, the two accents are very different in both in placement and pronunciation. Some vowels reverse between these cities. For example, in NYC, the vowel in THOUGHT is tightly rounded, but the vowel in LOT is completely unrounded. The opposite is true in Boston.
There are various intensities of the accent throughout Boston and surrounding suburbs. You’ll also hear variations of the Boston sound throughout Eastern New England. In Rhode Island, the resonance/muscularity is similar, but there are some vowel differences. There are also similarly based accents in New Hampshire, and eastern parts of Vermont and Connecticut.
BOSTON ACCENT FOR TODAY’S ACTORS
- Actors are often inconsistent with this pattern, especially if they try to produce Boston vowels by imitation without proper voice focus.
- Many actors get fixated on the Boston pronunciation of the vowel+R combination in the word START. Some go way too far with it, creating a very self-conscious sound. Some limit their Boston phonology to this sound alone, ignoring many other target pronunciations.
- In recent years there have been many film roles demonstrating excellent Boston accents. But these have often been performed by native-speaker actors like Ben and Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, and Mark Wahlberg. There have also been many performances criticized for their poorly done Boston sounds. Among them: Holly Hunter in Once Around, Tom Hanks in Catch Me If You Can, and Mel Gibson in Edge of Darkness.