Take Two for January 17, 2013

Map: Do Californians have an accent? Listen to some examples and add your own

California Republic flag in front of the Union Station Rail Transit in the city of Los Angeles, California

Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images

Californians. We just don't think of ourselves as having accents. New Yorkers have accents. People from the South have accents, but not us, right?

Sure there's the vowel-shifting "Valley Girl," and the "Surfer," but is that it?

Penelope Eckert, professor of linguistics and anthropology at Stanford, disagrees. She and her team of researchers are traveling all over the state to prove it by conducting a study called Voices of California.

"There really isn't just one California accent," said Eckert. "California is a very large, very diverse state, and we're interested in what kind of linguistic diversity there is in California and to what extent there is commonality across the state that distinguishes it from other regions of the country."

Eckert explains that there are a number of accent throughout the state, including ones tinged with Southern twang, thanks to early Dust Bowl migrants from Oklahoma and elsewhere in the South. There's also a version of clipped English spoken by Japanese Americans who had spent their adolescence in internment camps. 

"This particular way of speaking, that clipness…this is something that that generation of speakers, who are all native speakers of English, have in their English, but the next generation does not," said Eckert. 

The large number of Latinos in California also have a large impact on California English. Eckert explains that in doing work with kids in San Jose, she notices that Anglo boys pick up features of Chicano English. "I would say that there are probably way in which Chicano English has affected all dialects in California," said Eckert. 

What do you think the California accent sounds like? We're partnering with KQED in San Francisco to get your thoughts on the subject. Hit the record button below to record your best impression of the California accent from your computer. KPCC, KQED, and The California Report may feature your voice on our air or website.

And scroll down to listen to some potential samples of the California accent.


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