Reducing a Southern or Texas Accent
WHAT WILL YOU DOWNLOAD?
The download contains eighty (80) 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 any variety of American Southern accent. Here’s the program’s sequence of instruction.
- Lesson 1 first teaches Southern speakers to substitute a flat (one-pitch) vowel in stressed syllables. This replaces the up-down glide of stressed vowels in Southern accents.
- The 2nd Lesson teach non-regional resonance—in contrast with resonance traits in different parts of the South.
- Lesson 3 helps you embed specific non-Southern vowel pronunciations into the traits you just learned. Primarily, you’ll substitute flat single vowels for several lilting diphthongs (double vowels).
- Lesson 4 teaches the non-regional R sound when it comes after vowels. Older (and rapidly dying) Southern accents are “non-rhotic” and drop most post-vowel R’s. Rural and Mountain Southern regions intensify and sometimes elongate these R’s. You’ll learn to create the non-regional balance between those two Southern versions.
- The Final Lesson first drills the pronunciation of a few isolated consonants. Second, it puts the non-regional accent together in several drill passages. Initially, it reminds you about the lilt. Then, it walks you through target pronunciations phrase by phrase before leading you toward a normal speaking pace.
IS THERE ONE STANDARD NON-REGIONAL 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. Firstly, in my “Eastern Non-Regional” version, there is a rounded vowel in THOUGHT and an unrounded vowel in LOT. Secondly, in my “Western Non-Regional” version, both words have slightly rounded vowels. Finally, 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.