5 Things To Know: When learning a dialect or accent.
#1: Find recordings of the dialect – Mimic!
As soon as you know where your character is from and you have begun your research, start to find video recordings (You Tube is great) of people that are from the same place as your character and around the same age. If it is a period piece then try to look a films or documentaries from that place in that time period. Once you have found a few recordings pick the one that is the closet to the character. This recording is going to help you to dysect the accent. Start by playing the recording and stoping it after every sentence and mimic. Even if you think you sound awful, just persevere. You are not suppose to be perfect at it. Mimicking will help you to start to feel the rythmn of the character.
#2: What are the vowels and consonants doing?
Trainscribe the your choosen video recording and now, as you listen to it make a note of the differences in vowels or consonants compared the your own dialect. For example are the vowels longer or shorter? Do the consonants tend to be more punchy or soft? Anything you hear that is sounded different to your own dialect, write it down. You should notice a pattern occur.
#3: Look at the oral posture
Oral posture means your articulators: lips, jaw, tongue, teeth, cheeks etc. Look at the video recording and begin to take note of what there oral posture is doing. Does the jaw drop? Do the lips move much, if so how? Can you see any tension in the jaw? etc…..anything you can detect, write it down.
#4: Find the rythm
Now let’s tune into the rythmn of the recording. First find out what the pace is like. Is it fast or slow? Does it start fast and then slow down? Whatever you hear, make a note of it. Listen again, this time try detecting the journey of the words. Do they stay in one place or move up or down etc? Listen to just one sentence from the recording and repeat it but replace the words with ‘da da dada’ – This will allow you to hone into the rythmn more. Once you have repeated that a few times then add the words back in.You should be more in tune with the rythmn.
Practice makes perfect. Continue to mimic, implenting all of the discoveries you have made. Working in front of a mirror is really useful and recording yourelf and playing it back helps guide you in the right direction. Learning an accent or dialect requires your muscle memory to kick in. It can only do this by repetition. So, if you work on all of the above and continue to practice you will be on your way to learning a new dialect.