Reducing a Mid-West Farm-Belt Accent
WHAT WILL YOU DOWNLOAD?
The download contains seventy-three (73) 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’ll learn the resonance (voice placement), inflections, and pronunciation of the “General American” or “American Non-Regional” accent. You’ll use a program Dr. Stern developed specifically for those who speak with accents of the American Farm Belt. Here’s the program’s sequence of instruction.
- Lesson 1 teaches the mouth posture and movement styles that generate the mid-mouth non-regional resonance. This new style contrasts with the high-rear mid-West placement that creates a palatal and sometimes nasal resonance.
- The 2nd Lesson helps you generate the somewhat clearer articulation of consonants and consonant clusters in the non-regional speech style.
- Lesson 3 teaches you to produce non-regional vowel pronunciations directly out of the new mouth movements and posture.
- The 4th Lesson concentrates on the clarity of –ING endings and grammatical differences between general and some heavy Farm-Belt speech.
- Lesson 5 puts the non-regional accent together in several drill passages. Firstly, the coached drill first reminds you about the resonance. Then, it walks you through target pronunciations phrase by phrase before leading you toward a normal speaking pace.
IS THERE ONE STANDARD (NON-REGIONAL) AMERICAN ACCENT?
Folks often ask me exactly where in the USA people speak American English “without an accent.” WELL! Pretty much all Americans grow up speaking a local accent. It’s just that we call some of those variations “no accent” or “non-regional accents.” So, for better or worse, here’s what I mean by that term.
I define “Non-Regional American Accent” as oral English that identifies its speakers as native-born Americans. But, at the same time, it does not give most listeners clues that speakers are from specific cities or regions. I don’t believe, however, that there is one absolute standard for “a correct non-regional accent.” Some vowel pronunciations can vary a bit without creating the impression of an accent change.
I unofficially identify two (WELL—maybe three) “brands” of non-regional speech that differ slightly in vowel pronunciations. For example, in my “Eastern Non-Regional” version, there is a rounded vowel in THOUGHT and an unrounded vowel in LOT. In my “Western Non-Regional” version, both words have slightly rounded vowels. In some “non-regional” areas, LOT rounds and THOUGHT does not. But these specific vowel shifts alone usually don’t signal regional changes to most listeners. However, some other vowel differences, especially accompanied by intonation, rhythm, or resonance changes, can read as regional-accent signs to many.