Listening for American Accents

Audio 1 Southern California Accent

Audio 2 Minnesota Accent

Audio 3 New York City Accent

Listen to three recordings of Aesop's fable "The North Wind and the Sun" read by American speakers from different parts of the United States. Though the accents are stated as different, the speakers' pronunciation, stresses, rhythm and intonation are quite similar. These recordings are from LibriVox Dialect and Accent Collection where you can listen to other recordings of this fable read in various accents including British, American, Australian, Canadian, and some others.

English translation of the text of this fable exists in several versions. Some versions seem to be more widely known, for example, the version used by the International Phonetic Association (IPA) in phonetic descriptions of languages. The version of the fable used for LibriVox recordings is almost the same as the IPA version.

Прослушайте три аудиозаписи басни Эзопа "The North Wind and the Sun", прочитанные американскими чтецами из разных частей США. Хотя акценты указаны как разные, произношение, ударения, ритм и интонация чтецов весьма похожи. Эти аудиозаписи из LibriVox Dialect and Accent Collection, где вы можете прослушать другие аудиозаписи этой басни, прочитанные с различными акцентами, включая британский, американский, австралийский, канадский и некоторые другие.

Английский перевод текста этой басни существует в нескольких вариантах. Некоторые варианты кажутся более широко известными, например, вариант текста, используемый Международной фонетической ассоциацией (IPA) для фонетического описания языков. Вариант текста басни, использованный для аудиозаписей LibriVox, почти такой же как вариант IPA.

The North Wind and the Sun

The North Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger, when a traveler came along wrapped in a warm cloak. They agreed that the one who first succeeded in making the traveler take his cloak off should be considered stronger than the other. Then the North Wind blew as hard as he could, but the more he blew the more closely did the traveler fold his cloak around him; and at last the North Wind gave up the attempt. Then the Sun shone out warmly, and immediately the traveler took off his cloak. And so the North Wind was obliged to confess that the Sun was the stronger of the two.

Text of the recording, with intonation marked

'Dialect and 'Accent Col'lection, 'Volume \1. The 'North 'Wind and the \Sun at'tributed to \Aesop.

(1. 'Read for 'Librivox 'dot /org by 'Kara /Shallenberg in a 'Southern Cali'fornia \accent. 2. 'Read for 'Librivox 'dot 'org by 'Tricia \G in a Minne/sota, 'U.'S., \accent. 3. 'Read for 'Librivox 'dot /org by 'Alan 'Davis \Drake in a 'New 'York 'Metro \accent.)

The 'North 'Wind and the 'Sun were dis'puting 'which was the \stronger, |

when a 'traveler 'came a'long 'wrapped in a 'warm \cloak. ||

They 'agreed that the 'one who 'first suc'ceeded in 'making the 'traveler 'take his \cloak 'off |

should be 'considered 'stronger 'than the \other. ||

Then the 'North 'Wind 'blew as 'hard as he \could, |

but the 'more he 'blew | the 'more \closely 'did the 'traveler 'fold his 'cloak a\round him; ||

and at 'last the 'North 'Wind 'gave 'up the at\tempt. ||

Then the 'Sun 'shone out \warmly, | and im'mediately the 'traveler 'took 'off his \cloak. ||

And so the 'North 'Wind was ob'liged to con'fess that the 'Sun was the 'stronger of the \two. ||

('End of \text. 'This re'cording is in the 'public do\main.)

Suggested tasks for learners of American English

The fable has almost all of the vowel and consonant sounds of American English. Can you find those few sounds which are not used in the fable?

Compare stress, rhythm and intonation in the three recordings. Can you hear some differences? Are these differences important for understanding the meaning?

Practice the recordings: Repeat individual words. Repeat phrases. Repeat line by line. Repeat the whole text. Learn by heart. Recite the fable with the patterns of stress, rhythm and intonation that you hear in the recordings.

Text of the fable from the book Aesop's Fables, Pan Books, 1975

The North Wind and the Sun

A dispute arose between the North Wind and the Sun, each claiming that he was stronger than the other. At last they agreed to try their powers upon a traveller, to see which could soonest strip him of his cloak. The North Wind had the first try; and, gathering up all his force for the attack, he came whirling furiously down upon the man, and caught up his cloak as though he would wrest it from him by one single effort; but the harder he blew, the more closely the man wrapped it round himself. Then came the turn of the Sun. At first he beamed gently upon the traveller, who soon unclasped his cloak and walked on with it hanging loosely about his shoulders; then he shone forth in his full strength, and the man, before he had gone many steps, was glad to throw his cloak right off and complete his journey more lightly clad.

Persuasion is better than force.

Suggested tasks for advanced learners of American English

After sufficient practice of the recordings, you may find it useful to try the following rather difficult activities. Mark intonation in the text of the fable from the book Aesop's Fables. Then try to read the fable with the patterns of stress, rhythm and intonation that you hear in the recordings above.