By Robert Blumenfeld
Limelight Editions, $19.99, 135 pages
Teach Yourself Accents: Europe by Robert Blumenfeld, with an accompanying CD, is an introduction to common European accents needed for acting. The proof of their common use is in the introduction for each language’s chapter, which provides roles in classic and contemporary plays and movies that have characters with that particular national origin or language background.
Each chapter also discusses how the four main factors that influence an accent present themselves in that particular case. Blumenfeld notes that it is best to learn some of the language informing the accent before the accent itself, and to that end he has a short passage in text and audio for each language. Then he provides English lines inflected with the accent.
Unlike an actual language course, the CD does not leave room for the listener to repeat, which slows absorption and is frustrating. You need to spend much more time with the text of the book to prepare yourself for the audio, in order to avoid frantic page flipping. To make this book more thorough and helpful, audio of the author or actors performing the scenes and monologues in the chapters should be provided.
Teach Yourself Accents: Europe is a manual, and looks like one, but you will gain enthusiasm when the laboratory of your mouth starts to change how it pronounces words with simple attention and dedicated exercise.
Reviewed by Sarah Alibabaie