Dialect Transcription Exercise

Ask someone who speaks English in an accent or dialect that you consider different from your own to be the subject of this study.

Talk casually with your subject for a while, and once you are both relaxed, use a tape recorder to record a few minutes of the dialogue. Your subject may at first be on her/his best linguistic behavior, so you will want to try to get beyond that and record some relaxed and unselfconscious speech.

Once you have the tape, use it to make a close phonemic transcription of two or three of the subject's sentences selected from the recording. You may have to adapt the simplified phonetic alphabet presented in Pyles and Algeo in order to depict subtleties, or sounds that are not phonemes in standard English � e.g., phonemes from a foreign language that you find in the speech of a non-native speaker of English.

If you don't have a tape recorder to use for the exercise, you may wish to use a computer equipped with a microphone or a telephone answering machine instead � though in any case you'll want a recording of reasonable quality.

There are a limited number of portable cassette recorders that can be checked out from the Media and Technology Services office in the basement of the Science Center, room B-01. First come, first served.  If you'd like to check on the availability of these, or to reserve one, send an e-mail note to Dave Harris, the equipment coordinator in the office.  He can be reached by e-mail at dharris@fas.harvard.edu or by phone at 495-9460.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact your teaching fellow.