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Publisher's Summary

An authoritative, entertaining book about our accents and what they say about us.

Some people say 'sconn' while others say 'schown'. He says 'bath' while she says 'bahth'. You say 'potayto'. I say 'potahto'. And - wait a second, no one says 'potahto'. No one's ever said 'potahto'. Have they?

From reconstructing Shakespeare's accent to the rise and fall of received pronunciation, actor Ben Crystal and his linguist father, David, travel the world in search of the stories of spoken English. Everyone has an accent, though many of us think we don't. We all have our likes and dislikes about the way other people speak, and everyone has something to say about 'correct' pronunciation.

But how did all these accents come about, and why do people feel so strongly about them? Are regional accents dying out as English becomes a global language? And most importantly of all: what went wrong in Birmingham? Witty, authoritative, and jam-packed full of fascinating facts, You Say Potato is a celebration of the myriad ways in which the English language is spoken - and how our accents, in so many ways, speak louder than words.

©2014 Ben Crystal and David Crystal (P)2015 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Wish there were more native recordings.

Big fan, but I kind of wish there were more recordings by native speakers of the language. Also very British centric, American listeners (like me) might have trouble keeping up with the pop culture and geographic references.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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As an Audiobook Narrator I found this Book Awesome

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have recommended it for all of my performing arts friends both in the UK and North America. Awesome discussion of accents and dialects that can really help any performer understand a bit about what we do.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

David and Ben have great chemistry for a father/son team. Terrific blend of knowledge and entertainment.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fun with Language

The English language no less and I can never get enough.

Our two writers are of course professionals in their fields, David Chrystal in linguistics and his son Ben in acting, but they are both easily comprehensible to the ordinary language enthusiast and I mean that phrase in both senses.
One can not even think of either narrator being anything but stellar.
Thanks, guys.

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  • Matt
  • 07-05-15

Half this book is fascinating...

David Crystal's sections of this audiobook are well-researched, detailed and often fascinating, even if his attempts at depicting the accents he's describing are often woeful. His son Ben's contributions, however, are nothing more than a tedious collection of weak autobiographical anecdotes, thrown together to illustrate minor points, and delivered in an awkward style that attempts to be conversational. One chapter takes 20 minutes to tell us that actors using their own accent are sometimes more convincing, and apparently requires an entire recitation of 'Now, gods, stand up for bastards...' to make the point. I ended up skipping half the chapters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alejandra Garcia Romero
  • 09-22-17

Fantastic book about accents

What did you like most about You Say Potato: A Book About Accents?

This book is brilliant! As an English philologist and non-native English speaker, I have enjoyed every single chapter. If you are interested in linguistics, phonetics, history, accents and English language, this book is a must.

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  • John
  • 10-03-16

Informative and full of whimsy and mirth

A fascinatingly entertaining story, the balance of voices and the contexts given make this fun.

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  • Phil
  • 01-05-16

Eleven! Please repeat that? Ee-lev-van!

I am English but my wife and her friends are not and we laugh and joke about the strangeness of the English language and it's accents. Especially her favourite sketch of two Scots stuck in a voice operated lift.
Yet she is amazed and baffled my all the different accent