Your audiobook is waiting…

You Say Potato: A Book About Accents

Length: 7 hrs and 5 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (51 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

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

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    34
  • 4 Stars
    11
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    39
  • 4 Stars
    6
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    30
  • 4 Stars
    10
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • .
  • 08-01-18

wonderful

I am bettered by having had read/listened to this book. ( these words added for character limit)

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An excellent book

The narration is great from both authors. It is rather technical in explanations of voice distinctions, but this is why I really like this book, and it is very well done. The content is comprehensive, the pace measured, and new insights in every section and paragraph. It took me a long time to finish the book, because I kept going back to repeat sections. Addictive listening. 6 stars.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Entertaining AND informative.<br /><br />

The narration was the best part. David and Ben demonstrating each accent or sound. Thanks.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Lumpus
  • East Coast, USA
  • 11-20-18

Good, but a Bit Frustrating

I found this book interesting, but frustrating. Written by a father-son team, the book is inconsistent in its approach. I was hoping to learn how and why accents arise, but I didn’t really get that. Also, the book focuses primarily on British accents, with little information on accents in other English-speaking countries.

The son talks about his personal experiences as an actor and how accents played into his roles, but he often lapses into simple self-indulgence and false humility. For instance, the book starts with an anecdote about how he lost an acting job because he could not convey a particular color with his voice. I never figured out what that had to do with accents, and yet it is presented a prelude to something big; it’s not.

The father’s parts of the book are considerably more interesting, although he often lapses into excruciating technical detail of little use to the layman. He also assumes and in-depth knowledge of British geography which, as an American, I lack. (OK, before you make a crack about me being in uneducated and/or chauvinist American, consider this. It’s true I couldn’t find Manchester or Birmingham on a map, but We are even, because I could not find Virginia on a map).

On the positive side, the book opened my eyes to the importance of accents ways I had not considered. An accent can affect someone’s likelihood to be convicted in a trial, their sentence if convicted, their ability to attract a life partner, their likelihood to be accepted at a job interview, or to obtain housing. The authors are very passionate about this topic, and I credit them for opening my eyes to those issues. An accent says nothing more about someone than how they learned to speak and where they grew up. I had nothing to do with their intelligence, moral character, or social standings.

Also, in a book about accents it’s almost essential to listen to an audio version of the book, instead of reading. In this regard, both the father and son really shine. Both of them have mastered many accents — including some American accents –– and can convey them with great subtlety.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • 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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • PN Orton
  • 05-17-18

Loved it.

Well written and well read. I love the idea of having my sat nav voiced in OP!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alek
  • 05-09-18

Entertainingly informative and very well performed

The book is read by both authors: dad with a linguistic background and his son, a voice actor. The performance is impeccable and the content of the book will not only serve the linguistic geeks well, but will also be useful advertisers, marketing people and people who would like to know everything :D I particularly loved the bits about astrolinguistics (made me think of its origins, too) and this dialogue structure of the book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • JaisyW
  • 02-03-18

Interesting audiobook about accent

Impressive comments about stereotypes and prejudicial judgements based on regional accents. Cute accent jokes and interesting performance by the father and the son. I would recommend this book to friends interested in English accent and those who learn linguistics.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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