I would like to thank first and foremost my current and former students for inspiring me to find ways to explore aspect of accent training that go beyond the ways I was first taught. I am especially thankful for having had the opportunity to teach speech and accent work to the Voice Teacher Diploma students at York University, which made my own teaching of those subjects clearer and deeper.
Next, I would like to thank my teachers and mentors for guiding and encouraging me in all areas of voice and speech. David Smukler at York University and at Canada’s National Voice Intensive (now the Moving Voice Institute⧉) had the most profound impact on my training, and the influence of his text Speaking North American Naturally can clearly be seen in these pages. Judith, Gayle, Dale, Ian, Gary, Dawn Mari, Cindy, Gerry, and Brad, you formed my idea of what a life of teaching could be.
I’d like to thank Paul Meier, who hired me to design his website many years ago, and then he also had me design the cover for his books, and trusted me to review his work. Together we created our interactive IPA Charts⧉, which I designed and Paul voiced. Paul has been a trusted role model for me for independent publishing, as has Jim Johnson, and before them both, Gillian Lane-Plescia, whose business of selling accent cassettes and CDs during the early days of the internet was an inspiration at running a cottage industry related to accent resources.
My colleagues in the Acting Area at York University⧉, where I have had close to two decades of teaching, who have inspired me to do my best work, especially Erika, Gwenyth, Mark, Paul, Michael, Ines, Jamie, Keira, Laurel, and of course David. And of course, this text would not exist without the time to think and write due to my sabbatical leave. I am very aware of the great privilege that this tradition of academic life afforded me. The fact that it coincided with the timing of the SARS-COVID-19 pandemic allowed me time to consider how best to move forward with my teaching while writing this text. Mandy Frake-Mistak, of the Teaching Commons at York, mentored me through a failed grant application for the first idea about making this work an OER; her guidance on that process helped me see many aspects of the OER process that I had never considered before.
I must acknowledge the community of voice trainers that has inspired, encouraged and sustained me over my career through the Voice and Speech Trainers Association⧉ (VASTA). The breadth and depth of your skills, knowledge and compassion has only fueled my love of teaching and learning.
Thank you to the community of Knight-Thompson Speechwork⧉ trainers who continue to promote, question and explore how best to teach speech, phonetics and accents for the actor; you have been my most recent addition to those who have inspired me. Of these, I am indebted to Phil Thompson, with whom I had the great good fortune to do a podcast around the Lexical Sets (Glossonomia⧉, a Conversation on the Sounds of Speech). Andrea Caban, Julie Foh, Erik Singer, Tyler Seiple, the cohort for Certification #7, and the rest of the KTS community, you have sparked a new focus for the next decade of my teaching journey.
In writing this work, I was accompanied on my journey by my tireless copy editor, Jeffrey Simlett, Dialect Coach at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. His detailed review of every word in the text has been an invaluable help to me, and his guidance on inclusive language has made this text richer and more accessible.
In the final summer of preparing the finished manuscript for publication on the eCampus platform through the Pressbooks software, my BFA student research assistant, Farisya Khairul, hired with support from the AMPD Minor Research/Creation Grant and the Research At York (RAY) program, has been invaluable. She did much of the work of turning a Word document into a website, helped out with devising alternate sentences for Mergers and Splits, devised most of the “Pathway Puzzles,” implemented much of the H5P content, and recorded about half of the audio that will, eventually, make it to this publication. Her contribution has helped me change this book from a dry “book” into an interactive Online Educational Resource.
Finally, J.C. (John) Wells, whose work Accents of English laid the groundwork for this text, is due the greatest thanks.
When (not if!) you find inaccuracies, flubs, and doozies in my text, please refer to his excellent work. In writing this, I have found frequently that what takes me a whole paragraph to explain, Wells has made clear in a single sentence.
Stratford, Canada, August 2022.