Iceland 3

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BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

AGE: 48

DATE OF BIRTH (DD/MM/YYYY): 01/08/1964

PLACE OF BIRTH: Reykjavik, Iceland

GENDER: male

ETHNICITY: Caucasian

OCCUPATION: aviation safety specialist

EDUCATION: university undergraduate degree, plus 60 M.Sc. units coursework finished

AREAS OF RESIDENCE OUTSIDE REPRESENTATIVE REGION FOR LONGER THAN SIX MONTHS:

Subject lived in Germany for 15 months and in Canada for nine months.

OTHER INFLUENCES ON SPEECH:

He worked for 15 years with English-speaking customers at an international airport, in flight operations. After that, he worked with significant English in a regulatory environment and did international work for aviation authorities and operations. His wife has two first languages, Filipino and English, with Icelandic being a second language, so English is spoken in his home a lot.

The text used in our recordings of scripted speech can be found by clicking here.

RECORDED BY: Eric Armstrong

DATE OF RECORDING (DD/MM/YYYY): 20/06/2013

PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF SCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A

TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A

ORTHOGRAPHIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH:

OK, OK, there are, uh … the background of me learning English is, is from school, starting, I think, 12 years old and going to regular courses in elementary school, and then, ah, secondary school after that, I think, two years out of four years of secondary school, I learn English. I, I, I never found it very hard; it took me a little while to get it, but, euh, I, then I’m not talking about the vocabulary, because the vocabulary is STILL my problem. The English is such a huge, euh, *tsk* language with a vocabulary that it is still a problem. But the main thing of expressing myself and talking to people and *tsk* and getting the mainline of what I’m reading is not a problem, and has not been a problem for me that I remember, but, of course, when you’re just beginning to learn a language, it it takes some effort. [clears throat]

The types of language that I, of English that I think I speak are, are, a probably a blend of three. I, I can switch between them, a little, I think, but I’m not sure what a native English speaker would say of that. Euh, I would say mainly it’s North American English kind of, kind of, thing. A little bit of British, so maybe it’s a little bit Canadian, I don’t know? And then I can switch into, euh, into Filipino English, which is totally different English than, than other English, because my wife is from there, ah?

Yah, yah, so I have interaction with people all over the world, and that’s also in other languages than English, but English is the main language; it’s the main aviation language. [clears throat] Also when I was all working in Europe, for example, Germany, even though we walk the halls of that institution, you’ll hear all kinds of different languages along those halls, but English is the main working language, language. But I’ve been working with English-speaking people since I was like 22 years old. [How old are you now?] 48.

TRANSCRIBED BY: Eric Armstrong

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): 21/06/2013

PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A

TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): N/A

SCHOLARLY COMMENTARY:

This sample was gathered as part of the preparation work for the panel on Scandinavian Accents at the VASTA 2013 Conference in Minneapolis MN.
The subject’s speech is very rapid. He complained of having a cold, though it didn’t appear to affect his speech significantly. Unfortunately, the audio quality was compromised by a loud hissing sound in the background. The sample was recorded via Skype using Call Recorder software. Thanks to Erik Singer for expert use of noise canceling software.

Interesting Features:

Generally, final consonants are devoiced.

Unlike many non-English languages, Icelandic features both a voiced and a voiceless /th/- style sound. However, their versions of these sounds are represented orthographically with symbols familiar to those who with in the IPA, with the lowercase and uppercase versions of “eth” ð and “thorn” þ. When used at the beginnings of words, it is always a voiceless sound /θ/, whereas in the middle or at the ends of words it is always voiced, /ð/. However, these sounds are NOT inter-dental fricatives, as we would expect! They are alveolar non-sibilant fricatives (i.e., not hissy). An English speaker might thing of them as a very relaxed, wide [s].

In contrast, Icelandic speakers frequently have significant “whistle” qualities to their /s/ sounds, as a means of differentiating the /s/ from their /ð–θ/ phonemes. Also, Icelandic lacks the /ʃ/ phoneme, which is also replaced with a loose /s/ articulation, or possibly the alveolo-palatal [ɕ].

The English affricate pair /t͡ʃ/ is replaced with the equivalent Icelandic affricate, which is made with the blade of the tongue close to the post-alveolo-palatal region, which we transcribe as [t͡ɕ].

/v/ and /w/ tend to be ambiguous, often with the /w/ replaced with /v/ and vice-versa. There is no “w” in Icelandic, and the “v,” such as it is, tends toward [w].

Icelandic also features “geminate” (twinned) consonants that create what sounds somewhat like a “dotted” musical rhythm, as the speaker stops with no audible release on the first consonant, and then releases into the second. You can hear this in words with double consonants in them (such as hap̚py) and occasionally at the ends of words (e.g., strut_around).

R is generally trilled in Icelandic. In the informant’s speech, he alternates between use of the alveolar trill [r] and the voiced alveolar approximant [ɹ]; on rhotic vowels, we sometimes hear strong rhoticity in stressed forms /ɝ/. Occasionally this alternates with a non-rhotic version [ɜ].

GOAT words usually close more firmly at the end of the diphthong [ou̯]. GOAT occasionally will alternate with the MOUTH, using the Icelandic diphthong “á” [au].
PRICE words close more firmly at the end of their diphthong, too, [ai̯].
GOOSE words are very backed and rounded [u̙̹].
SQUARE words are often spoken as DRESS+R (e.g. Perry) or, occasionally, with the [eɚ] vowel (e.g., “rare” ).
Harrison, Sarah, etc., are said with TRAP + R, not SQUARE.
PALM tends to be further forward, [a], and the word Palm has the /l/ in it pronounced.

Frequently there will be a spelling pronunciation (For example, mirror features a FORCE vowel in the last syllable, not a schwa.)

The inflection of the informant’s accent seems to be very similar to the inflectional patterns of North American English.

COMMENTARY BY: Eric Armstrong

DATE OF COMMENTARY (DD/MM/YYYY): 21/06/2013

The archive provides:

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