Junior Accents

Carnegie Mellon University
Natalie M. Baker, Associate Professor
School of Drama
Purnerll Center 326

Accents: Course Description

Junior accents is a one semester exploration of Italian, French, Spanish, German and Yiddish accents.Students will be presented with a systematic analysis of each which includes the particular properties of tempo, pitch, intonation patterning and the phonetic substitutions for all major sound changes. The students will then be drilled in pronunciation and be required to duplicate sounds and eventually deliver monologues as well as improvise in the accents.

Hit the "Play" Button Below to Listen to Natalie interview three Italian-Americans!

Raw interview material gathered by Deborah Piroch

View the Course Syllabus

Course Goals

Students will appreciate the necessity of this linguistic study and how it is the natural next step in their vocal training as actors. All effort is to be directed toward mutual intelligibility for actor and audience. The accent must grow out of the characterization and the sound must have authenticity, focus, clarity, subtly and naturalness. They will practice the twin art of consistency with the fundamental sound changes and the inconsistency of negligible ones. They will develop a technique useful for approaching any accent or dialect.


The technique of accents acquisition involves the consistent hard work and thoughtful practice as of learning a foreign language. Students will consider geography, culture, musicality, vowel, diphthong and consonant changes, grammatical and word order differences. Classes will introduce musical notation and phonetics as well as songs, typical expressions in the mother tongue and monologues from plays, written in English. Natalie Baker's Web Site will contain audio examples of "real people" using the various accents.Audio and video tapes will be used in class. Students will be required to imitate sounds as well as to transcribe them phonetically

Representative monologues will be presented and taped for critique. Students will also be required to improvise in the accent , do cold readings and introduce monologues of their own choosing for final exam. Ultimately, students are taught a method to use for analyzing a script for a dialect play and particularizing the sounds for a specific character.

Instructions to Students

Bring to class every time:

Purchase a 30 minute tape for recording your presentations. N. Baker will keep this until the end of the semester


In order to meet our ambitious schedule, it is important for you to attend every class meeting. Unexcused absences will have an adverse effect on your grade. Lateness will not be tolerated


Based on:

A = superior
B = very good
C = mediocre
D = poor quality

Finals consist of presentation of all 5 accents with a monologue of your choice.


Go to Natalie Baker's Voice and Speech Home Page