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Is this a specific accent? Or just affectation?
June 5, 2012 12:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm not very good at identifying accents. So I turn to the hive mind to ask about the way Planet Money's Zoe Chace speaks. What kind of accent is that? Maybe it's not an accent and it's just affectation? I find it both fascinating and annoying at the same time.
posted by gertzedek to Media & Arts (37 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Anecdata, I guess, but she sounds very much like two different people I know from Connecticut. She does not sound like everyone I know from Connecticut, though, so maybe there is a more localized thing that I am not privy to, or maybe it is wholly unrelated to the Nutmeg State. I don't know if she has any Connecticut connections.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:41 PM on June 5, 2012


I only listened to the beginning of that interview but she's got a severe case of uptalking going on. That might be part of the "annoying" element of her voice.
posted by jabes at 12:43 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds to me its a combination of a midwest/northeastern american accent and her personal vocal mannerism. Sounds like my cousin from New York State actually. (Disclaimer, I'm Canadian and not super familiar with regional American accents, so I may be way off base!)
posted by snowysoul at 12:44 PM on June 5, 2012


If you're referring to her weird stress pattern, that sounds like a personal tic rather than any kind of regional accent. Her /æ/ sounds slightly Midwestern to me but I don't think that's what you're talking about.
posted by theodolite at 12:46 PM on June 5, 2012


@jabes, this new generation of NPR reporters is big on the uptalking and the vocal frying and every other vocal vice you can think of, but I was actually thinking about her accent proper, uptalking notwithstanding.
posted by gertzedek at 12:47 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Listening to it again, I think it might actually be Philadelphia.
posted by theodolite at 12:52 PM on June 5, 2012


She's on twitter so I tweeted her this thread and asked her. Sounds like a fairly normal non-specific Eastern U.S. accent to my ears but nothing is better than asking the source, huh?
posted by zephyr_words at 12:53 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not an accent, it's her actual voice. It grates like cheese. Her accent is generic, inoffensive Eastern Seaboard.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:53 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


but she sounds very much like two different people I know from Connecticut

I grew up in CT and live in CT and she doesn't sound like a CT'ian to me. The a's and o's are different. It's like the a's are upper Midwestern and the o's are some kind of...Northern California meets Canada. It might be an accent all her own...
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:57 PM on June 5, 2012


It sounds like a north-east accent to me. I would guess Jersey or Eastern PA.
posted by Flood at 1:01 PM on June 5, 2012


It sounds to me like Anthony Gargano, a Philadelphia radio personality who plays up the blue collar, Italian-American stereotype of the Philadelphia accent. Almost turns the a's and o's into midwestern inflections. So, while I am a Philadelphian and I know hers isn't a real Philadelphia accent, I'd say it's the region she's playing up.
posted by moviehawk at 1:04 PM on June 5, 2012


Test of Philadelpha-ness: likely to pronounce the word "water" to sound like "wooder". I'm at work and not willing to waste half an hour of my day scrutinizing Planet Money podcasts in hopes that she eventually says the word "water", but that would be a big indicator.

From listening to a couple minutes of the second link, my guess is that she's from Philly/the surrounding suburbs, southern New Jersey, or possibly the NYC metro area. She's definitely not from the New England-ey part of Connecticut, but she could be from the parts that are closer to New York, especially more urban/working class areas.

Maybe Providence?

Her accent mostly sounds slightly working class to me.
posted by Sara C. at 1:05 PM on June 5, 2012


For whatever it's worth, according to this, she is from Manhattan and has taught in Philadelphia. Also, according to this, she's attended Oberlin (Ohio) and the Salt Institute (Maine). Make of that what you will.
posted by mhum at 1:07 PM on June 5, 2012


I would have said Philly/NJ as well.

I really like her accent. It's edgy and spunky and smart.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:08 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some of her vowels sound to me a bit like some people from Michigan (particularly around Detroit), but I'm a BC transplant to Ontario so take any notion I might have with a grain of salt.
posted by synecdoche at 1:11 PM on June 5, 2012


She's definitely not from the New England-ey part of Connecticut, but she could be from the parts that are closer to New York, especially more urban/working class areas.

She could be from there, but she doesn't talk like she is.

On preview, in mhum's like she says she "grew up in" New York. But she doesn't sound very New York-y, so I think she has some kind of hodge-podge accent/speech pattern that's not really tied to one specific region.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:14 PM on June 5, 2012


like = link
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:15 PM on June 5, 2012


I don't know anything about those regional dialects, but as a librarian, I feel compelled to leave this here: Speech Accent Archive from George Mason University.
posted by denriguez at 1:25 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's entirely possible that she used to sound a lot more New York ish, but she worked on "neutralizing" her accent and landed where she landed. It's a little reminiscent of New York with a more midwestern approach to vowels.
posted by Sara C. at 1:34 PM on June 5, 2012


It could be an Upstate New York accent. You see those Midwestern-sounding vowels around Rochester.
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:36 PM on June 5, 2012


Yes, vocal fry and uptalking. There are elements of how she speaks that sounds like Wisconsin to me. She also sounds very young.

It sounds very much like she is doing that over-enunciating thing that people with accents do to try to self-teach themselves to eliminate their accent. This tends to sound like they are adding dipthongs where they don't belong. "like" becomes "lie-eek"

Wild-ass guess: her parents were from Wisconsin, and she grew up surrounded by people with hispanic accents.
posted by gjc at 1:38 PM on June 5, 2012


I'm from Ohio and I always thought she had to be from northern Ohio or southeast Michigan. Like synecdoche says, it's the vowels. She sounds like some people I know who grew up around Toledo and Detroit.
posted by mcmile at 1:38 PM on June 5, 2012


I guess Buffalo!
posted by jph at 1:40 PM on June 5, 2012


It's nothing like an upstate accent. People from Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, etc. sound actually midwestern, not like they're from New Jersey or PA.

Detroit, maybe? The only people I know from Michigan are from northern Michigan and sound really stereotypically midwestern, not like that at all.
posted by Sara C. at 1:43 PM on June 5, 2012


where are you from?
Manhattan

why did you get into radio?
I lived in a studio in Philly...

posted by thirteenkiller at 1:43 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was going to say Michigan, too.
posted by bluejayway at 1:44 PM on June 5, 2012


Maybe Providence?

Definitely not like any Rhode Island accent I ever heard while living there.

I always think of the mid-west when I hear her voice.
posted by chiefthe at 1:46 PM on June 5, 2012


Test of Philadelpha-ness: likely to pronounce the word "water" to sound like "wooder".

Note that this is also a feature of the Baltimore accent, as well as southern New Jersey.
posted by Rash at 1:49 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is Philly suburbs. We in New Jersey used to make fun of this accent back in the 1970s because "Earth Hippies" used to affect it. It may be he origins of "upspeaking."
posted by zaelic at 2:05 PM on June 5, 2012


It's entirely possible that she used to sound a lot more New York ish, but she worked on "neutralizing" her accent and landed where she landed. It's a little reminiscent of New York with a more midwestern approach to vowels.

This sounds like the most likely. The vowels are very, very midwestern to the point of almost affectation. "promise" comes out as "præmise", whereas someone in NYC would say more like "prawmise". Like someone told her to flatten her vowels and she overcompensated.
posted by deanc at 2:13 PM on June 5, 2012


Yep, it's a purposefully modified accent starting out in New York, picking up some elements from Philadelphia, and ultimately trying to be Tom Brokaw-heartland-of-America neutral.

Now let's do Kai Ryssdal, because I cannot for the life of me figure out his accent and his Wikipedia entry is no help.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:38 PM on June 5, 2012


Her "A" 's seem like something she would have picked up in Ohio. I picked up a similar vowel accent after going to school in MI.
posted by raccoon409 at 3:13 PM on June 5, 2012


Ryssdal says he chose Emory because it was time to make a change from Westchester County, New York, where he had lived with his parents and little brother since he was eight. Before that, his family lived in Denmark and England where his father worked for an airline.

:P
posted by thirteenkiller at 3:50 PM on June 5, 2012


I had a co-worker from Pennsylvania (don't remember which city) who spoke with that accent.
posted by deborah at 5:02 PM on June 5, 2012


This is not specifically one particular regional accent, it's a mismatched collection of vocal tics, affectations, and oddball slivers of various accents that she probably picked up along the way the way most of us do. (Some of us more than others.) Worse, that very deliberate cadence she's using, a sort of overrwrought version of "radio news style," is calling attention to all the incongruities, making them all stand out like angry pimples.
posted by desuetude at 8:32 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've heard quite this same exact accenting of the "a" and "e" in Connecticut, across two generations of a family... including sister-in-laws and such. I don't know if you can isolate it to simply Connecticut or those of its neighboring states, but I haven't run across the same accenting elsewhere in the United States.
posted by peachtree at 10:26 PM on June 5, 2012


There are elements of how she speaks that sounds like Wisconsin to me.

This is just a datapoint, but I grew up all along the East Coast (early years in Boston, southeastern Pennsylvania, DC, and NYC) and I've always thought she was from Wisconsin.
posted by kdar at 10:27 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


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