‘Scone’ or ‘sconn’? New app developed by Fenland professor aims to guess where you’re from - purely by your accent
- Credit: Archant
Do you say ‘three’ with an ‘f’ or a ‘th’? Do you say speel, splinter or spool?
A new app, created by Professor of Linguistics David Britain - who hails from Marshland - is hoping to use the answers to these questions to find out where users are from – just by listening to their accent.
The English Dialects app, developed by Professor Britain and linguistics experts from Cambridge and Switzerland, claims it can guess your regional accent based on your pronunciation of 26 words and colloquialisms.
The app, which is available for iOS and Android, will help Cambridge academics track the movement and changes to English dialects in the modern era and was created following the success of an app made for German-speaking parts of Europe, which gained more than one million hits in its first four days.
David Britain, who originates from Marshland and Emneth, and studied the Fenland dialect for his PhD, hopes that the new app can help identify trends and changes within the English language.
He said: “Much of our understanding of the regional distribution of different accent and dialect features is still based on the wonderful but now outdated Survey of English Dialects – we haven’t had a truly country-wide survey since.
“We hope the app will harness people’s fascination with dialect to enable us to paint a more up-to-date picture of how dialect features are spread across the country.”
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At the end of the 26 questions, the app gives its best three guesses as to the geography of your accent based on your dialect choices. After taking part in the quiz, users can also listen to both historic and contemporary pronunciations, and Britain hopes the app will also help track the change in dialects in Fenland.
He said: “It would be great to see what dialects are like in and around Wisbech now. On the basis of the quiz answers people give, we’ll be able to update our knowledge of what accent and dialect features people use these days, and track how language has changed in the last 50 years. It’s a bit of fun, too.”