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A Kenyan Accent for the Short Film

An Intent To The Spirit

written/directed by Saheem Ali

Accent Model Inspirations

Michael Olunga

Jackie Nyaminde (Wilbrodah)

Oral Posture
  • Moderately close, but easily active jaw

  • Heavy soft palate, leading to moderate nasality

  • Tongue body high (arched) towards the middle-back of the mouth

  • Advanced tongue root (articulation feels forward in the mouth) tongue tip resting against bottom teeth

  • Lip corners lightly braced, lips seem to be ready to protrude forward for rounded vowels

  • HA HA HA – HO HO HO – HEE HEE HEE   Do this illustrative laugh with a somewhat tightened throat space


FLEECE/KIT (it, please, this, spirit, kindred, “pia”, minute, we, these things, agreed, seen)

Will sound almost the same. For KIT (short /i/ words) sounds, the tongue will feel tighter to the roof of the mouth. For FLEECE (long "ee" sounding words), it may not feel as close, or long, as some American accents.

  • "..of course I can say there's a big cultural difference

  • "they are really trying to make my life much more easier

  • "...a hat trick maybe could be more..."

  • "...philosophy is as a team

FACE (today, grateful, take, say, hey, maybe)

This will be a single state vowel, unlike most American accents, with the tongue much closer to the roof of the mouth.

  • "the big moment came, you know..."

  • "...for every play is really quite important"

DRESS (check, yeah, ready, already, yes, “nakupenda”, again, intent, upset

This will sound close to the FACE vowel, with the tongue feeling closer to the roof of the mouth than most American accents.

  • " in the dressing room, you know..."

  • "...but yesterday, you know...

  • "...first few steps you know..."

  • "...thank (ah) everybody, the coaching staff

TRAP/BATH/SPA (thanks, traps, campus, that, last, “nakupenda”, shall, dancing)

All three of these vowels will be realized with the same sound, with a much more open (cupped) position in the front of the tongue than most Americans for TRAP/BATH, and a much more forward placement for SPA vowels.

  • "it was a fantastic moment (ah)"

  • "a hat trick maybe could be more"

  • "at the end of the day I thank everybody the coaching staff, the players"

STRUT (one?, what, worries, suffered, done?, was, love?, nothing?, upset, club)

This vowel sound will be realized very close to the above sound, with a much more forward and open feeling on the tongue. STRUT vowel words spelled with <o> tend to be quite rounded. (“Aunty” may fall in this category). “Nothing” not rounded

  • "you know I was hungry, you know to..."

  • "say there's a big cultural difference..."

  • "impossible is nothing..."

  • you have to be under pressure to deliver..."

GOOSE/FOOT (room, you, good, do, today, too soon, through

Both of these vowels are more rounded than most Americans make them, with FOOT sounding much closer to the GOOSE vowel. Both are realized a bit more forward in the mouth.

  • "maybe could be more..."

  • "you know football is a game..."

  • "going to be a good balanced game"

GOAT (know, so, most, don’t, no, ok, hola, go

This is a single state vowel that stays way more rounded than most AMerican accents. The tongue, while still back, will feel more forward in the mouth.

  • "it was a fantastic moment"

  • "we'll be going to play at home"

THOUGHT/CLOTH (all, already)

Both of these will sound the same, with the lips quite rounded and the tongue closer (higher) in the mid back of the mouth. To many ears it would sound almost like the sound above.

  • "yeah, all my teammates, you know..."

  • "they are strong, you know..."

  • "cause its part if football, you know..."

LOT (lot, stop, not, continue, complicated

Most Americans experience this vowel somewhat back and unrounded. For this accent, think of keeping the tongue in the same position but rounding the lips considerably.  It might sound/feel like a slightly more open version of the sound above.

  • "everybody, the coaching staff..."

  • "people who trust me with this job..."

"R"-Coloring - Final /r/ sounds tend to be dropped

NURSE (world, her)

Will be realized quite close to the sound for STRUT (open [cupped] and forward), with no /r/ coloring.

  • "score my first hat trick..."

  • "it was my third game...."

  • "compete with the best teams in the world"


This sound will start much more forward in the mouth (similar to TRAP and SPA) and the /r/ sound will be dropped.

  • "because it's part of football..."

  • "as much as far as possible..."

  • "if you work hard..."


  • "we have to go there..."


  • "hat trick here in Qatar..."

  • "but we don't fear them..."


  • "I did not score..."

  • "of course.."

  • "they're all so supportive..."

Consonant Features
  • Initial consonant /r/: This sound tends to be tapped or trilled (in some cases, it can sound like a British /r/

  • Voiced /TH/ and unvoiced /th/ (nothing, things, three)These sounds tend to sound like "soft" /d/ and /t/ sounds, respectively, made with with the flat part of the tongue tip making contact just behind the bottom teeth.

  • Final /z/ sounds (worries, things): This sound tends to be "de-voiced" towards /s/

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