"Shibboleth" is an interactive art work created for the ACM Multimedia conference track on Interactive Art and will be shown at Columbia University's Macy Gallery in October 2004. This work explores the idea of shibboleths - linguistic traits that betray a speaker's origins, named after a word used to distinguish friend from foe in biblical times.
And the Gileadites seized the passages of the Jordan before the Ephraimites; and it was so, that when those Ephraimites who had escaped said, ``Let me go over,'' that the men of Gilead said unto him, ``Art thou an Ephraimite?'' If he said, ``Nay,'' then said they unto him, ``Say now 'Shibboleth.''' And he said ``Sibboleth,'' for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him and slew him at the passages of the Jordan; and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand. (Judges 12:5--6)
Click here to see some other examples of Shibboleths that I've identified.

For this project, I am collecting examples of shibboleths from different cultures, and collecting the sounds of people speaking those shibboleths in a range of accents. I would be very grateful if you would record some for me, and let me use the recording in my project.

To do this you need to record yourself and send me the sound file. If you know how to do this yourself, please go ahead, otherwise follow these instructions to record sound if you have a microphone on your computer or webcam (and video if you have a web cam). I'll ask you to fill in a short questionnaire when you send me the data.

See some screen shots from the installation.
Read the paper "Shibboleth: Exploring cultural boundaries in speech" that appears in the conference proceedings.