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I.D.E.A.

About the International Dialects of English Archive

Professor Paul Meier founded the International Dialects of English Archive (IDEA) in 1997. It was the first online database dedicated to recordings of English as spoken around the world. Visitors hear real-life accent and dialect speakers reading a specially written passage and conversing impromptu. Each recording has been transcribed, sometimes phonetically, and is often accompanied by scholarly commentary. Many subjects also speak and read in their first language. The ever-growing archive has about 1,000 recordings. (See the archive’s global map.)

Meier, a principal contributor, is joined by about fifty associate editors representing many regions of the world. His son, Cameron Meier, a film critic and graduate of KU’s School of Journalism, who also appeared in several KU productions, is the site’s Senior Editor. Dylan Paul, a professional actor and a graduate of the department, designed the site, is Special Consultant and Webmaster, and an associate editor.

As he explains in the preface to his Accents & Dialects for Stage and Screen, a required text in many conservatories and theatre departments, Meier founded IDEA to allow actors to research the accents and dialects spoken by their characters in films and plays. But the archive has gone on to satisfy an extensive range of research needs in other fields too.

With more than one million hits each year, IDEA has become one of the Internet’s top-ranked sites for dialect research. It also contains interesting special collections, such as Play Names and Terms, Speech and Voice Disorders, and Native American Speech.


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