Dialect Design

Dialect design is as much an art and it is a science. Every time I prepare for a dialect I choose which sounds from a specific region to use. The distinct sound changes are easy to spot for major regions like New York or Boston but I also need to discover the less defined changes. There are many audio/written sources for the changes in a particular region and they are all slightly different. Every author had a different set of primary sources; different times and different areas within a particular region. Two people from New York, let’s say Brooklyn, grew up and live 10 blocks from each other but have slightly different accents. Is one a better Brooklyn accent than the other? Of course not. But as a dialect coach the art is deciding which changes to use for a particular show or character. Again, the questions are: What era is the show written in? What are the ages of the characters? What educational background do they have? Where did they grow up as opposed to where they currently live? Who is the audience for this show?

The second part of being a dialect coach is teaching these sound changes: rate, rhythm, intonation, pitch, lilt, resonance, placement, and stress.

I use many tools in my teaching such as the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), IPA Phonetic Pillows, which I like to call “sound pillows”, primary source recordings, as well as many audio/written sources. It doesn’t matter if you know IPA or not, it’s about the sound changing and you recognizing these changes. I find using something you can actually see, touch and move (like pillows) help many people actualize the changes they need for a dialect.

I teach a multitude of different Dialects from RP, Cockney, Lancashire, Donegal, Galway, French, German, Italian, Swedish along with American dialects such as Brooklyn, New Jersey, Delta (Tennessee Williams), Standard American etc. Given enough time for preparation I promise I can teach any dialect.

Download American IPA Handout Example 1 page Dialect Handout

For more information on classes and private lessons please contact me at dialectsandvoice@yahoo.com or call me at 818-319-2740.

$75 an hour
$250 for 4-hour sessions if paid at one time