Christine Mallinson

Photo by Tina Dawson on Unsplash

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. You can read it here.

Why do Americans say "bay-zle" and the English say "baa-zle"? – Sly M., age 6, Cambridge, Massachusetts

A person's voice is like their fingerprint. Everyone talks differently, and everyone's voice is unique.

Some of these linguistic differences are because of how our individual bodies are shaped, especially the size of our vocal cords and tracts.

Our families, our friends and other people in our communities also influence how we talk. I study language, literacy and culture, and I've found that how we use language – including accents – is a way of showing who we are.

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