transcribing my accent

An exercise in the international phonetic alphabet (IPA).

Here's a quote from the magnificent Margaret Atwood book, "The Handmaid's Tale":

"Now we walk along the same street, in red pairs, and no man shouts obscenities at us, speaks to us, touches us. No one whistles.

There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it."

I recorded myself reading it at a normal pace, not trying to enunciate correctly, trying not to think about my accent, here is the recording.

And here is my attempt to transcribe the recording into IPA:

[nɐu wi wɒk əlɑŋ ðə seɪm st͡ʃɹitʰ, ɪn ɹɜd pɛɹz, ənd nɵʊ mæn ʃɐət͡s əbsɛnɪtiz ætʰ əs, spiks tu əs, tət͡ʃɘz əs. nɵʊ wʌn wɪsœlz.]

[dʰɛɹ ɪz mɒɹ ðɜn wʌn kɜnd əv fɹidəm, sɛd æntʰ lɪdiæ. fɹidəm tu ɶnd fɹidəm fɹɐm. ɪn ðə dez əv anœɹki, ɪtʰ wəs fɹidəm tu. nɐu jəɹ bin ɡɪvɪn fɹidəm fɹɐm. dɵʌnt əndəɹetʰ ɪtʰ]

My accent is... a bit weird. I spent my first twenty-three years in south Dublin, so my accent should be unquestionably 'Irish', but people often think I sound American. I don't know why. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Things I noticed during transcription:

  • I don't break between words, apparently (does anyone?). While transcribing 'freedom' I had to check that it wasn't actually 'freedoms', because there's no gap in the audio between the [m] and the [s].
  • vowels are hard and mostly schwas.
  • I simply cannot make out the difference between some letters, like [æ] and [a]. My ear just isn't that good (yet). I think I need to spend more time learning how the sounds are created, because I found that immensely helpful in distinguishing between, for example, [ʃ] and [ʂ] while studying the consonants.

If you send me a recording of yourself reading the quote I will try to transcribe it to IPA for comparison purposes. Comparison and judgement.

I imagine transcribing someone else speaking is much more difficult because one can't rely on slow careful repetition with internal observation of the shape of the mouth. That might be a good thing.