Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: accents


Artist Karen D'Amico of fluid thinking** wrote about how her accent betrays her roots even after 15 years in her new country. It got her "thinking about the notion of accent as a marker for identity."

This subject always fascinates me too. I'm always interested in learning where people are from when I hear a foreign accent. Because I emigrated to Canada as a child and was educated here, I sound Canadian, unlike those who emigrate when older. (In Finland I sound Finnish, but what gives me away is my somewhat limited vocabulary.) Sometimes I wish I had a little bit of an accent for it sounds charming to my ear and would match my foreign name, a bit of vanity perhaps. A few people have said they detect a slight difference in the way I speak. Once I had a weird experience - an appliance salesman, who did not know my name, asked me if I am Finnish. This totally astounded me and I asked how he knew. He said his mother is Finnish, and it was the way I moved my mouth that was like hers. Isn't that amazing?

Anyway, Karen found a fascinating link for a speech accent archive that I intend to explore in my leisure (not much of it these days).

** Reedited March 15th, 2013: Karen has not been at this blog address for some years, so link has been removed. I have now at last and quite accidentally found her new eponymous website: Karen Ay

1 comment

Yes, this is a fascinating topic. Even though I'm terrible at recognizing most kinds of audible details (accents, bird songs, melodys) I love to read about the brain processes that make it happen.

People always ask me if I grew up I the midwest... which is wierd because we moved about 30 times before I was 20, but we never lived in the midwest. I've often wondered if the "midwest accent" is a kind of melting pot combination of the rest of the country's accents?