Everybody loves an Irish accent, especially here in the U.S., but there isn't just one Irish accent. There are a number of different regional accents in Ireland, and if you develop an ear for them, you can tell pretty precisely where someone is from. From the mid-1990s until 2002, linguist Raymond Hickey traveled through all 32 counties of Ireland recording the voices of urban and rural speakers, of both genders, across three generations. They read from a set of sentences designed to target specific dialect features for purposes of comparison. You can listen to 15 samples, arranged on a map by origin, here.
To me, Donegal seems the best fit for our notion of ideal Irish, but they all have their charms. The Drogheda accent is so far from that ideal that if an American actor did an absolutely perfect rendition of it, he or she would only be laughed at for not getting "the Irish accent" right. Who knows, maybe there's a tiny, undiscovered hamlet where Justin Theroux's accent in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle makes sense:
But I doubt it. "Teach us about pain," indeed.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- This is what happens when Republicans actually enact their radical agenda
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- How I dug myself out of debt — and stayed that way
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- 6 super-helpful iOS8 tricks you probably don't know about
- The Obama administration's nonstop incoherence on ISIS
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
Subscribe to the Week