How a Rat’s Tale Helped Dialect Research

 As part of our new exhibit on dialect research that led to the creation of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), we present  “Arthur the Rat.” This short tale was used to obtain phonetic representation from throughout the country of all phonemes in American English. Recordings were made of DARE informants from all over the United States reading this passage when fieldwork for DARE was being carried out from 1965-70. Following is a merged version of the passage, combining several speakers, each reading a short segment of the passage. Information on each speaker precedes the section read.

In the player below, click  on the right arrow to advance. From page 2, click on the play arrow to hear each dialect sample. Advance to the next slide by clicking the arrow on the right side of the image.

 

Click here to play the whole story at one time.

Want to hear more? There are 1,380 additional examples of Arthur the Rat that can be heard at American Languages: Our Nation’s Many Voices. Click on “Search the collection.” Following “Search entire collection by keyword:” type in “Arthur”.