Stephen Hackett’s Accent

Stephen has an awesome very mild southern accent which I find interesting since he’s from Tennessee. I would have expected him to have a more obvious accent, but I often forget that he’s from Tennessee until he says certain words which stand out more than others. For example, I love how he pronounces the word “important.” It’s almost like the “T’s” are silent or under-emphasized. I can’t even imitate it when I try! How does he even say that word?!? Anyway, it caught my attention tonight in Episode #640 at about 38:15 into the episode. Anyway, I just wanted to see if anyone else noticed that, or am I just tired and not hearing clearly?

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I’m a total sucker for trying to guess where people are from based on their accent/dialect or speech patterns.
I can only do that in German though, and a bit in Norwegian, haha.

There are a lot of accents I just don’t “hear”.

I put this down to where I work. The New Zealand IT sector has long been a very international bunch. Years ago I counted the number of nationalities I had worked with (other than Kiwis), only including those where I could name a person I actually knew. I got to 20.

I distinctly remember talking to someone at work, describing someone else, and the response was “Oh, the South African guy?” I had to think for a bit before saying, “Oh, yeah! He is.”

Let’s see if I can remember them all… Fiji, Cook Islands, Samoa, Australia, Philippines, Malaysia, China, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Russia, UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Argentina.

Some of those are quite new, so there must be more I am now forgetting! (Not to mention forgetting many of the names now.)

I lived in eastern TN for two years but also knew folks from Nashville though none from Memphis. To my ears, TN accents are fairly mild and are (to me) the most pleasant southern accent.

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Check out Stephen’s accent during the intro’s on Connected last week. It was hilarious


For whatever reason I’m pretty good at recognizing Eastern European accents, though not usually by specific country.

That intro did sound like some people I’ve met, but I think I also picked up some Texas phrasing. Or would that be phrasin’ ?

I sound less Southern than my dad and uncles do. I think there are a few reasons:

  1. My mom is from central North Carolina and moved to Memphis in her 20s. She says some words really differently than anyone else around here. I don’t think I inherited much of that, but it’s a factor.
  2. I’ve been talking on podcasts for a decade now. I think I’ve lost some of it as I’ve done more recording (and editing) over the years.

I think the biggest reason I don’t sound super Southern is the fact that I spent nearly 10 years or so in speech therapy as a kid. I overcame a minor stutter and a lot of pronunciation challenges. On occasion, I’ll come across something I’m still unsure about, but I think learning a lot of the basics from speech therapists meant a strong accent could never take hold.


I was born in the north, raised in Tennessee, and have lived and/or worked in five states in the south. IMO, you sound just southern enough to fit in everywhere.

I, on the other hand, have been asked the same question wherever I go, “You’re not from around here, are you?” :grinning:

I have the same experience. I was born in OH, traveled for 20 years with my dad in the Air Force in the US and overseas, after he retired we moved to a farm in OH where I lived for eight years, then after graduating from college I lived for 25 years in the south and now I’m back in the midwest, I’m a man without a country or an accent. :grinning:


@bmosbacker you just remind me of Jack Reacher from Lee Child’s Novels :rofl::rofl::rofl:


I actually was making a passing reference to The Man Without a Country by Edward Everett Hale. :slightly_smiling_face:


This post is the rare MPU Talk discussion that pertains to my work as a language teacher and student of applied linguistics! For what it’s worth, dialects can be understood to be geographical (“topolect”) and social (“sociolect”; “speech community”) in nature, and those factors coalesce in conjunction with individual variation (“idiolect”) and other aspects of identity. I think it’s hard to tease these factors apart, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that geography is a factor in the way we speak, but it’s not everything. Also, regional dialects both evolve and shift boundaries over time.


@cwc I learn the most amazing things on this forum. :+1:t2:


Equally as funny to me was Myke’s laughter

Here’s the clip:

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As an Alabama native and someone who lives in “the country” Stephen has a city southern accent. He lived out of town or in a smaller town it would be much different.

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Meanwhile, over here in New Zealand, we do quite magical things with our vowels. I can’t explain it, apart from saying the New Zealand is pronounced New Ziland.

When I was in high school, one of the teachers described it as the “great vowel movement”.


What on earth are you talking about? No-one here has an accent. :fish: :fries: :wink:


@Clarke_Ching, I think as English speakers we all do magical things with our vowel sounds! When it comes to the sound of the different Englishes we speak—the pronunciation, in other words—it’s primarily the vowel sounds that differ from place to place. (And as we use the same written alphabet throughout the English speaking world, the writing doesn’t really capture the sound of the differences.)

Also, I wonder if your teacher, when they said “great vowel movement,” was perhaps making a connection to “the Great Vowel Shift,” which was an important period in the development of English phonology.

From Memphis. Sounds fine to my ear.

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