Montserrat 1

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BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

AGE: 34

DATE OF BIRTH (DD/MM/YYYY): 01/01/1978

PLACE OF BIRTH: Montserrat

GENDER: male

ETHNICITY: black

OCCUPATION: artist/writer

EDUCATION: postgraduate degree

AREA(S) OF RESIDENCE OUTSIDE REPRESENTATIVE REGION FOR LONGER THAN SIX MONTHS: Trinidad and Tobago

OTHER INFLUENCES ON SPEECH:

Subject states, “Montserratians are sponges, we pick up accents or bits of words. It is also the closest to the Jamaican accent. We have two voices, Creole and Standard English.” In this sample, the subject has “dialed down” his accent, likely based on the presence of an American interviewer.

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

RECORDED BY: Dylan Paul

DATE OF RECORDING (DD/MM/YYYY): 04/12/2012

PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF SCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A

TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A

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

ORTHOGRAPHIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH:

I mean it’s Pompée. It’s, – it it didn’t happen immediately, you know. We had explosions, you know, little fire up in the mountains. Ahm, But we don’t have, you know, like in Hawaii you have those lava volcanoes. Ours is a, um, mud volcano. So what you get is hot rocks and um, and and hot air. That’s e-, that is more dangerous than a, a, a volcano with lava because this f- comes down the mountain side at a terrific speed and everything in front of it is just burnt and destroyed- so it’s called a pyroclastic flow. So, ahm that was the danger. We kn- they knew what kind of volcano it was and the kind of destruction it could do and then all the sudden we had to get out of there. [clears throat] I don’t think anybody can understand what it’s like when somebody comes to you and says, “Ok listen- grab a bag, pack two days worth of clothes in it, get your important documents, come with us.” And [glottal sound] the first thought, OK, what do you take? Where is everything? Uhm, you grab your passport, you probably grab your documents, insurance, education, that sort of thing – if you can find them, if you know where you put them. Um, do you take pictures? Do you take-you can’t take your television. You can’t take your music, really. Ahm, You know, but – and then your clothes, what, what do you take? What- where you gonna go? do you need your shoes? Do you need – and it’s just one bag. You- an- so you, you have no idea what it’s like, and then you’re taken away. Um, if you’re lucky you go to a friend’s house that- on the other side of the island. And you stay there not knowing, you know, how long – when do you get to go home. Because nobody knew what it was. Ahm, it sounded like a plane. A, a plane somewhere in the distance [makes plane noise] flying. And you like go, “why doesn’t that plane go away? Why doesn’t it land?” And they went it on – it went on for like two days. And then we found out, um, after that, they were saying it was coming from the volcano…that noise, the volcano was making that noise. And then they had some, um, geography people coming from, from Trinidad and they want to come and check out what’s going on with the volcano. And then, you know, they had their meetings , they had their meetings with the government and they had to say like, “OK, everybody on this side of the island, you have to move.” Well if you’re not paying attention … to anything … somebody knocks on your door, “Listen- um, you have an hour, or two hours, you have to move. We don’t know what’s going on with the volcano. We must save lives.” You know, “Grab your things. Let’s go.” And that’s what happened to a lot of people. They grab what they could, packed a days worth of clothes, probably put some food stuff if they had any and they probably went to friend’s house. Those who didn’t have anybody to go to- they, were- ended up in churches and schools on the northern side of the island. For me it was just moving back to my parent’s house, you know, ahm we were in the middle of a production. Of uh starting out with lik- there were three people in the group. And we’re in this house with the producer, and we’re doing so much work that w- you know, things that we’ve never done before. We’re doing um, video stuff, we’re building our own lights, cause we had no, you know, proper light stuff. We’re making all these things. And we just lived, practically lived together in this house. And um, so this whole business of volca- volcano, and, you know, it was- i…i-i-i-it-it wasn’t the big thing in our life. Our thing was this production we were doing. This amazing production we’re creating. And, you know, all this rubbish about volcanoes- nyeh- secondary.

OK, I think this would be a strong Montserrat accent: Her efforts were not futile. In no time, the goose began to tire, so Sarah was able to hold onto Comma and give her a relaxing bath.

TRANSCRIBED BY: Dylan Paul

DATE OF TRANSCRIPTION (DD/MM/YYYY): 04/12/2013

PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION OF UNSCRIPTED SPEECH: N/A

TRANSCRIBED BY: N/A

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

SCHOLARLY COMMENTARY:

Related Background:

Montserrat is a small island in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies.  In 1995, eruptions forced the island’s inhabitants to flee, abandoning a substantial portion of the island.  As of 2010, continuing volcanic activity buried the remnants of the national airport.  At the time of this recording, visitors are cautiously allowed into the exclusion zone.  The speaker addresses his experience facing this destructive event.

Relating to Dialect:

Subject notes that when speaking with other natives of the Caribbean region, there is an increase in elision of words, exaggerated patterns of rhythmic contrast, and reduction of terminal consonant production.

Many of the sound changes presented are inconsistently applied, and often substantially “dialed down” in this.  When reading the scripted passage, many of the sound changes are entirely eliminated.  Several sound changes that are present have been noted below.

Dialect Tendencies / Intra Caribbean Sound Change Context:

Rhoticity and Diphthongs of “R”:

-Speaker employs a non-rhotic dialect of English.

-There is a tendency toward additional rounding in the “nurse” lexical set, [ɜ] in many Caribbean speakers.  Rarely demonstrated by this speaker, it is still present in “nurse” as [nɜ̹s] and “confirmed” as [kɒ̞n.fɜ̹md̥].

-[ɔə] toward [aə], or more accurately, [ɔə] as [ɐˑ].  For example, “northern” as [ˈnɐˑ.ðn̩], north as [nɐˑθ], “normally” as [ˈnɐˑ.mə.li̞].  Also listen for “that sort of thing.”

Triphthongs:

There is a tendency for intrusive glides to be in both triphthongs, not only as parenthetically cited byproducts of passing through sound changes, but as fully realized phonemes.

-Intrusive [j]:  fire as [‘faɪ.jə] tire as [‘taɪ.jə], creating two syllables.

-Intrusive [w]:  hour as [ˈɔʊ̆.wə].

Diphthongs:

[eɪ] toward [e̝ˑ]

The “pay” diphthong changes noticeably for many Caribbean speakers, pushing tongue placement as high as small capital I.  Often it is accompanied with a slight increase in rounding.  Less drastic in this speaker, still observe “days,” “education,” “taken,” “away,” etc.

[oʊ] toward [oʊ̆̆]

The “go” diphthong often has a clipped, or dropped feeling in feeling in Caribbean speakers.  Occasionally, the initial stage is elongated.  In both cases, the second stage of the diphthong is often difficult to perceive: “Volcano.”

[aʊ] toward [ɔʊ]

An “o” like quality enters this dipthong.  For instance, “mouth,” “down,” “house” (pronounced both with standard diphthong AND with this sound change), “mountain,” “diagnosis,” and “around.”

Vowels (outside of diph and triphthong context):

[ɑ] and [æ] toward [a]

Examples include “trap,” “bath,” “and,” and “understand.”

This sound change is often erroneously stereotyped as [ɑ],  as in “ja maaahn” (stereotyped Jamaican).  This sound change is applied with varying frequency by many Caribbean speakers.

Consonants:

Interdental Theta and Eth move to their alveolar counterparts, t & d.

[θ] toward [t] – In this sample, the sound change is largely omitted until he demonstrates a “strong” accent at the end of the sound sample when the worth “bath” is used.  Also, “With the government.”

[ð] toward [d] – “up in the mountain,”  “and that’s what happened,” and “they grabbed what they could.”

Other:

Liquid U is present in “knew” as [ˈnju] and “tune” as [ˈtjun].  This sound change is found in both colloquial and formal speech in the Caribbean region.

There are also some standard British pronunciation norms that appear in this sample, for example, “been,” and the minor elision of “immediately.”

Equalization of stress:  This speaker also demonstrates a Caribbean tendency toward equalization of stress in syllables.  For example, “sentimental” in the standard reading.

COMMENTARY BY: Dylan Paul

DATE OF COMMENTARY (DD/MM/YYYY): 06/12/2012

The archive provides:

  • Recordings of accent/dialect speakers from the region you select.
  • Text of the speakers’ biographical details.
  • Scholarly commentary and analysis in some cases.
  • In most cases, an orthographic transcription of the speakers’ unscripted speech.  In a small number of cases, you will also find a narrow phonetic transcription of the sample (see Phonetic Transcriptions for a complete list).  The recordings average four minutes in length and feature both the reading of one of two standard passages, and some unscripted speech. The two passages are Comma Gets a Cure (currently our standard passage) and The Rainbow Passage (used in our earliest recordings).

For instructional materials or coaching in the accents and dialects represented here, please go to Other Dialect Services.