Welcome to Human Accents, the website about the science behind the way we speak. This website provides useful information, resources, ideas, and food-for-thought for those interested in finding out more about accents.

What is an “accent”?

An accent has many definitions, both scientific and popular, but essentially it is the manner of pronunciation, or how one says words and sentences. Do you think that you have an accent? The answer should always be “yes.” Everyone speaks with an accent; there is no such a thing as speaking without an accent. Even in the sign language there are accents. You can find more information about accents on The Truth About Accents page.

What is the Human Accents Website?

It is a resource for those interested in learning more about accents, especially non-native accents, whether they are a novice or an expert in this topic. Here you will find The Truth About Accents (a summary of scientific findings), a bibliography of academic work, links to other websites that might be of interest, quotes on accents, accents in the media (news, movies, magazines), and a project on Promoting Linguistic Tolerance. Eventually, the website will be expanded to include interviews with non-native speakers, experts, and educators and resources related to the Linguistic Tolerance Project, which could be used in schools and colleges, places of employment, and the media. Stay tuned and keep checking for updates!

A personal stake in the science of accents

My native country remains in my speech, and it will until the day I no longer speak. Since moving to the US in 1999, I have been speaking English with a non-native accent. This new trait has identified me as a foreigner, outsider. For years, my observations, experiences, reflections, and conversations, have been filtered by the fact that I speak English with a non-native accent. In college, I sought to explore the human mind and brain to better understand why people think and behave the way they do. I was particularly interested in how culture and language influence psychological processes. The desire for an even deeper understanding of the human psyche led me to a graduate school, through a PhD program, and my dissertation work that focused on the experiences of individuals who speak English with non-native accents in the United States. Although I have completed my research work, I am still passionate about the topic of accents and I hope to pour my passion into sharing my experiences and teaching my knowledge as I move to the next stage of my life…

Moving forward

...To that end, I provide consulting services to organizations that involve workshops centering around the topic of communication across languages and accents, with an additional focus on cultural differences. The current globalization means diversity, not only in regard to the most obvious kind: race, ethnicity, and gender, but also it means cultural diversity in the way people think, speak, communicate, and interact. This diversity can be of great advantage to companies and institutions, but sometimes it can also be a challenge. My workshops provide the knowledge and tools necessary to change the challenge into an advantage, based on the latest scientific findings in the field and on recommendations of experts. If you are interested in learning more about services I provide, all information is in the Consulting Services section of this website.

Work in progress

As you have probably already noticed, this is a project in progress. What scientists know about and how people perceive accents, how the media portrays accents and how they are addressed in politics, education, employment, and everyday life, is not set in stone. There is also a vast amount of information about accents out there, some of it scientific, mostly not, and even though I have spent past three years immersed in researching this topic, there is still much I have not found, seen, or ever thought about. If you know of any information that is not here, and you think it should be, do let me know. The content of the website will be updated on a regular basis, and in the meantime, you're welcome to have a look at my more personal views on accents by checking the World of Human Accents blog. I hope you will enjoy the exploration!

Agata Gluszek

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