The Flatter the Landscape the Flatter the Accent
October 19, 2007 9:39 PM   Subscribe

How The Edwardians Spoke :: BBC documentary via Google Video, about an hour

Via Kottke (so sue me)
posted by anastasiav (23 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Anyone else notice the weird tinny sound of this video? It sounds like they were speaking through and old pipe. Very irritating.

And I just want to hear the recording, I mean, all this crap about flat landscapes = flat accents, bla bla bla. Shut up.
posted by delmoi at 9:50 PM on October 19, 2007


And I just want to hear the recording

The recordings start almost exactly at the 11 minute mark.
posted by anastasiav at 9:51 PM on October 19, 2007


some more info
posted by kirkaracha at 9:53 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


How the Edwardians spoke? Just find the right episode of Blackadder, right?

Jokes aside, this is interesting. Accents and dialects are very interesting to hear and think about. And of course, the existence of these recordings is of great interest. I'd have to agree with kirkaracha's first link, though: this is a rather ponderous film: it has that pompous, self-important tone that can be off-putting.

And yeah, the "pipe" sound delmoi refers to is a drag. Probably an artifact of some digital audio dithering...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:09 PM on October 19, 2007


Listening to the recordings themselves (wish this film featured more of these and less talk from the tiresome narrator!) is amazing. One would hope these recordings will be made available to the general public, as a CD and/or downloadable on the internet. I'd love to hear all of this stuff.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:18 PM on October 19, 2007


“and less talk from the tiresome narrator”

Yeah. I'm glad I'm not the only person who feels this way. When I say this yesterday from the Crooked Timber post, I watched for awhile but she just started to annoy me too much.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:27 PM on October 19, 2007


“and less talk from the tiresome narrator”

She was just wretched. When she started to weep over some old scottish tune, I had to turn it off.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:49 AM on October 20, 2007


Yeah, I'll confess... the pipe sound and the narrator were more than I could take.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:04 AM on October 20, 2007


I tried watching this a few months ago. The woman who hosted it was as full of shit as she was full of herself, a deadly combination. I couldn't get through it, even thought I was interested in the topic.
posted by empath at 1:45 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have got to agree with the earlier posts: fascinating topic, very interesting insights into the past, but slathered in touchy-feely stuff that ruins what could have been an interesting documentary. Ok, it's nice to confront the old folks and to re-visit the places where they lived, but making claims like "It's like Phillip is here in the room with us" detracts from the more serious aspects. And yes, a CD with a sampling of those voices would be a very nice thing to have for everyone who's interested in accents or acoustic historic documents.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:01 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or did Sydney sound like he could have come from North Dakota?
posted by darksasami at 3:35 AM on October 20, 2007


What I've learnt from watching this:

-If a dialect is "in a minor key" then that means that sentences don't end on definite notes. It's also okay to call this "sort of floaty".
-If a dialect is "in a major key" then that means that sentences do end on definite notes.
-The flatter the land, the flatter the accent.
-Regardless of all that, the woman has a "clinical, more scientific" side.
-If you sniffle quietly twice and then continue talking in the same stern, matter-of-fact tone of voice it will genuinely appear as if you are suddenly overcome with emotion.
-Turns out that to the BBC, the internet really is a series of tubes. Tubes through which one feeds sound.
-German sound archivists look like they could burst into a fit of cello-playing cannibalism at any time.

The woman is full of herself and at times also full of crap, and the whole thing just kind of felt like I *had* to watch it for school or something. And that's speaking as someone who likes documentaries, linguistics and BBC Four.

Still, oddly entertaining. Thanks for posting.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:36 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed this post. I got the feeling, as they did, that these individuals were playing up a fake 'old timey accent' as opposed to reading or speaking naturally. (It was telling when their close relatives did not recognize the voice.)

If I were in a POW camp, I'd sure as heck imagine whatever 'local dialect' they wanted from me. That doesn't mean the result would stand up to scientific scrutiny 100 years later.

Oddly, I wasn't able to find any scholarly articles on this Doegen fellow.
posted by Gable Oak at 7:30 AM on October 20, 2007


It would seem that our resident anti-pop linguist L-Fat might take exception with the whole landscape/accent relationship, but it's poetically intriguing nevertheless.
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:43 AM on October 20, 2007


Thanks for this. It may help me actually pull of some of these accents. I already do a rather comical Brummie accent (because it's so funny and universally hated)... plus I live near there and know 'native speakers'.

Newcastle, Liverpool, York, any of the London accents... those are really difficult.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:04 AM on October 20, 2007


wish this film featured more of these and less talk from the tiresome narrator!

Yup
posted by KokuRyu at 9:09 AM on October 20, 2007


Why the hate? Did you want 60 minutes of shellac recordings, and scholarly analysis thereof? That doesn't exactly make for good television. This isn't intended for scholars, it's meant to be interesting and educational - And it was.
posted by Zero Gravitas at 1:10 PM on October 20, 2007


For those that noticed the audio artifacts, I found a much better version of this video here.

While I barely know 3 languages and can't talk in any accents other than mine, I am nevertheless fascinated by accents and the study of Linguistics. Good find anastasiav.
posted by chime at 5:18 PM on October 20, 2007


Gable Oak: I really enjoyed this post. I got the feeling, as they did, that these individuals were playing up a fake 'old timey accent' as opposed to reading or speaking naturally.

I felt that at one point too. I think that was their way to indirectly mock the recorders by gross exaggeration. But who knows, maybe they were just really excited to stand in a room with a roof and walls instead of hauling dirt in the sun all day with prison guards watching.
posted by chime at 6:16 PM on October 20, 2007


Thank you, glad I saw/heard it, flaws notwithstanding.

I'd have welcomed a little more information or direction on the other 1450 disks. What nations, languages, dialects? As to the two gentlemen responsible, all I could find was this, a speech apparantly by some fellow early recording enthusiast.

Anyone know more than I do?
posted by IndigoJones at 6:28 PM on October 20, 2007


Is it just me or did Sydney sound like he could have come from North Dakota?

Yes! Definitely that region, or northern Minnesota. He sounded very American.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:28 PM on October 20, 2007


Thank you for this wonderful post.
posted by chillmost at 10:28 AM on October 21, 2007


This isn't intended for scholars, it's meant to be interesting and educational - And it was.

I've finally gotten around to watching this—I favorited it when it was posted—and I've got to disagree with you, Zero Gravitas. It had the potential to be interesting, based on its title. As it turned out, though, it was an excellent example of how the rage for making everything personally meaningful and relevant can rot away at a nice notion for an hour's educational documentary. I was expecting a solid hour of discussion and demonstration of Edwardian-era phonetics. Instead, I got a lady who's mad for accents getting misty-eyed about other people's dead relatives, trying to work them into an emotional state for the sake of the cameras. Bullshit and shenanigans, I say.

So, sorry anastasiav, but title notwithstanding, this "documentary" just pissed me off. On the other hand, from your link I laterally surfed to the blog of the guy who posted the video, which lead me in several interesting directions, so it was a net-positive experience for me, completely crap presenter notwithstanding.
posted by mumkin at 1:40 AM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


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