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Do Encinitas Residents Have an Accent?

Stanford linguistics researchers are working on Voices of California, a study of how we talk.

Valley girls. Surf bros. Chicano English.

A team of researchers from Stanford have launched the study Voices of California to determine if Californians have accents.

What do you think the Encinitas accent is?

Penelope Eckert, professor of linguistics and anthropology at Stanford, believes there's more to it than vowel shifting and vocabulary, dudes.

Despite the state's diverse population, many Californians believe they don't have distinguishable way of speaking. (Some call it a "TV accent.")

"It's really important to portray California as it is," Eckert told Stanford News. "People have this view of California based on Hollywood, and California really is a very diverse state."

Voices of California researchers are recording and studying how Californians speak. They've visited Redding, Merced and, last fall, went to Bakersfield.

Eckert and her researchers say they've found distinctions between coastal California and Central Valley, such as influences of southern twang from Dust Bowl migrants. The large number of Latinos in California impacts language as well.

Voices of California participants talk about their lives, but also are asked questions about special words, expressions, and pronunciations during research interviews. Each reads a list of words that researchers think have distinctive pronunciations in California.

Try these words off the list:

  • Wash, because some people pronounce it "warsh."
  • Greasy, because some people pronounce it "greezy."
  • Pin and pen, because some people pronounce them the same.

KQED in San Francisco and Southern California Public Radio invited listeners to record impressions of California accents.

Joe Prasso, who was born in Chula Vista and lives in San Ysidro, said in one of the public radio recordings that she does not think Californians have an accent.

“To my ear, we sound like most television news anchors,” she said, adding that she looked forward to the results of the project because “it’ll be cool to hear how other people sound.” 

Do you think you have an accent? Where does it come from and what does it sound like? Tell us in the comment section below.

Joanne Parr Stroud January 19, 2013 at 05:36 PM
I have always been told that I do not have an accent. Grew up in a British household, spent ages 5-14 in the Bay Area and up until 8 years ago (now in Encinitas), I lived mostly in PA and some in SC. Wonder what the linguists would think of me!
Dorothy Belknap January 20, 2013 at 05:10 AM
I was born in Providence, RI, had that New england accent but majored in Speech Arts then went on to speak "radio and TV" English. I've moved about and lived mostly in metropolitan cities, Amercian and European. I have lived in California for the past fifty years. I know that at times when I'm tired or very relaxed, I go back to dropping my 'r' s as a New Englander. Interesting.

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