Foreign Accents In New York
Produced by Sabine Heinlein and Josh Weinstein
Written by Sabine Heinlein

12:08 minutes

        An audio play seems to be the perfect medium to explore the question of what it means to speak English with a foreign accent in New York: It allows the listener to focus solely on different speech patterns without the distraction of visuals, like race characteristics or social attributes; and the diverse manners of accented speech, on the other hand, assure an exclusive listening experience.
        Struggle, amusement and sometimes anger define the adjustment to our new world. The metamorphosis from language to language might allow the speaker to play a new role, one that is untouched and unblemished by the previous life. It might emancipate, but also stigmatize and restrain the foreign speaker.
        In New York people from all over the world make an enormous effort to understand each other and to establish themselves in a place that is defined by competition, (mis-) communication and interaction. But an accent is not only “in the ear” of the speaker. It is always a matter of perspective. Who is listening? Based on your accent the listener categorizes, identifies and dissociates you from a certain group. Language has always been a power tool used to judge and discriminate against.
        Our accent audio piece makes the listener part of a unique experience. Listener, do you have an accent? Don’t rush your answer. Listen first!

-Sabine Heinlein

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Sabine Heinlein