Audio Samples

This page features audio samples that I’ve collected from various sites on the internet. Finding the right sample for your character is challenging. Sometimes it is possible to find someone to model your speech after; sometimes we have to build a model out of several speakers as we can’t quite find the perfect sample.

I’ll list the samples here by their sources; this might inspire you to look around for more samples on those sites.

International Dialects of English Archive

This site was built by my friend and colleague, Paul Meier. Full disclosure: I am a contributor to the website and designed the original logo. IDEA’s strength is both a standard passage that features all the lexical sets of English, and a natural speech section where the accent donor speaks off the cuff. The Japanese section isn’t brimming with samples, but there are some reasonably good ones. I recommend:

Japan Five: (Female) This sample was my initial research sample. It seems to have enough of an accent for us to notice what features are salient, but is easily understood. Sample | Transcription

Japan Three: (Male) This sample is probably too strong for our purposes. But “too strong” can often be very helpful for getting a sense of the limits of an accent—when things get emotional, this is where the character’s speech may head! Sample | Transcription

Japan Seven: (Female) This sample is a good one of a young woman with very good English skills but still with a noticeable accent. She has a typical high, light, feminine sound. Sample | Transcription

Speech Accent Archive at George Mason University

The Speech Accent Archive (SAA) has the benefit of being searchable and having lots of samples. You can isolate gender and locale on a level of granularity that outshines IDEA. The challenge of this is that the passage is only read—there is no natural speech. There are many, many more samples for you to listen to if you’d like. Each page features details about the accent donor, and an IPA transcription of the text (which may or may not be useful/accurate!)

Tokyo natives: Male

Japanese 12: A strong example, but fairly fluent. Some of his consonant clusters that include an R seem to use a /w/ sound in place of the r (a la Elmer Fudd). Sample | Page

Japanese 4: This sample is quite halting, but gives a nice, light vocal quality. Too strong for our purposes, this accent is good research listening. Sample | Page

Tokyo natives: Female

Japanese 1: a good sample; the speaker has some /r/ colouring which makes her sound more fluent in English. Sample | Page

Japanese 2: This sample features a speaker with some /r/ colouring, even where it doesn’t belong (on the article ‘a’ for example). Sample | Page

This language learning site,, is the prototype from which all of the language learning sites by Innovative Language services have sprung. Run by Peter Galante, an American studying and teaching Japanese in Japan, this is a great place to learn some basic Japanese by podcasts. They have free and for-pay plans available. Highly recommended. (Note that a log in is required, but they have free resources available online and via iTunes, so it is well worth registering.)

Most of the teachers on are native Japanese teachers, who have worked or lived in English countries for some time. My favourite is Naomi Kambe, who is the teacher on the beginner lessons. Note that the podcasts feature a teacher (NS) and a host (NNS), and the instruction is done primarily in English at the beginner levels. I’ve edited a lesson to highlight the English speech of Naomi, whose Japanese is extremely clear, and whose accent is fairly strong in spite of her English being exceptionally good.

Naomi Kambe and Peter Galante sample

Japanese 1000—Elementary Modern Standard Japanese with Norio Ota

York University’s Japanese dept. has all its lectures online for their introductory Japanese course. The teacher, Ota-sensei (aka Norio Ota), has videoed all his lectures and made them available online. The videos are listed in the left hand column under “Video Mediasite Live”. Clicking the links will bring up the video (in a very small window!). Clearly the audio is the most important part. Some really useful stuff on greetings, etiquette, Japanese syllables, and phonology, basic sentence structure… really there is tons of material here. However, you may not have time to listen to tons of material, so I’ve recorded the audio from the very first class for you to listen to without having to go to the website. This is a large audio file that you can listen to for a long time!

Norio Ota lecture (26.9 Mb)


BuddingYukes Channel: (Female) Acting wannabe Yuki Akashi documents her time in NYC on YouTube and you can really hear her accent improve over time.

Namiko, Translator for Team Japan: (Female) Very bad audio quality mars this excellent video with the translator for the Japanese Soccer team in Milan 2009.

YoshiEatsWasabi: (Male) This is almost a joke—this young Japanese American puts on a Japanese accent (fairly badly)—you can hear the overdone nature of it. But hearing the stereotypes of the accent, from a young person’s p.o.v. is valuable, I think.

Dance Centrestage: (Male Japanese) This is an old documentary on Kabuki, featuring an interview with Tamasaburo. The translator sounds as though he is neither a Japanese nor an English first language speaker, so ignore him! But listen to the vocal quality (and watch the body!) during the interview. Pitch, quality, stillness, very clean lines. Gorgeous, and not typical male voice, which is stereotypically low. He also appears in this video about receiving the 2011 Kyoto Prize (Japanese, no subtitles). Really good for vocal quality.