The Evolution of a Politician’s Accent

Lars Hinrichs, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and associate of the Linguistics Research Center, is a specialist in English accents, with a particular interest in accents peculiar to Texas and other southern states.

Hillary Clinton in Texas in the 2008 Presidential Campaign

In particular Prof. Hinrichs, in collaboration with a number of student researchers, has been working on a novel application of the study of English accents: studying how politicians adjust their accents based on the perceived audience to which they address their remarks. Prof. Hinrichs and his group applied their expertise to the 2014 race for Texas Governor. In a two-part series, Vowel Power, for the LRC’s blog, they provided an explanation of their methods and a summary of their results (see Part 1 for their basic findings and Part 2 for the methods behind their analysis).

Never content to rest on their laurels, Prof. Hinrichs’s group is closely following the current national campaign for the presidency of the United States. They have already found some novelties of language use surrouding presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton. The Texas Standard has taken note of their work and sat down to interview Prof. Hinrichs. Take a moment to listen to the interview and read some of the highlights here at the Texas Standard‘s website.