Learning an Italian Accent

I have been through a fascinating exercise in the past few days. I am thinking of auditioning for a part. (Paravicini and The Mousetrap) The character is Italian so requires an Italian accent.

Basically an accent is when a speaker uses their native language phonetic rules to pronounce the English words. This gave me an idea. I went into the Amazon Web Services Polly. Polly is a text-to-speech engine. I put in the character’s dialog and asked Polly to treat it as Italian and read it.

Amazing. I had found another site on Italian accents for the stage. When I listened to Polly’s reading of the dialog, I hear many of the guidelines followed.

Why do Italians sound Italian? | Improve Your Accent

I never thought of using a text-to-speech engine to learn a script.

Polly output for this piece of dialogue.

Then I add in my script the dialog with phonetic spelling.
h+answer means add an h.
ha•bi•TA•tion! – accent on TA (second to last syllable)
h/ostess – drop h
Rolls+a – Add an a at end of the word

Phonetic spelling

What an h+answer to prayer. A guest house – and a charming h/ostess+a. My Rolls+a – Royc•e, h+alas, has run into a snowdrift. Blinding snow everywhere. I do not know where+a I am. Perhaps+a, I think to myself+a, I shall freeze+a to death. And then I take a little bag+a, I stagger through the snow, I see before me big iron gates. A ha•bi•TA•tion! I am saved. Twice I fall into the snow as I come up your drive+a, but at last I arrive and immediately – despair turns to joy. You can let me have a room+a – yes?

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