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Harry Potter and the Attempted American Accent
November 22, 2010 6:05 AM   Subscribe

The Economist presents the stars of Harry Potter trying to sound American. Via LL
posted by Dim Siawns (141 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice! Twilight *does* blow.
posted by grubi at 6:11 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


They need lessons from Hugh Laurie.
posted by Eyebeams at 6:15 AM on November 22, 2010


They need lessons from Hugh Laurie.

But can Laurie do an American accent that isn't heavily inflected with contempt? That's what I always wonder.
posted by aught at 6:21 AM on November 22, 2010 [16 favorites]


... the only slip is Ron (Rupert Grint) putting it where it doesn't belong, referring to "mozzareller sticks".

That's not necessarily non-American. My grandmother was from Manhattan and tended to stick an extra 'r' on the end of words like that. New Englanders do that too.
posted by octothorpe at 6:23 AM on November 22, 2010


Ah, the north American accent is easy if you are coming East to West, it's the other way that's difficult. Most Canadians and Americans REALLY can't get the ear for a great British Accent.

That said I had no idea Alfred Molina was from England at all; same with Bob Hoskins.

(Most (NorthAM) people are blown away when they hear me on the phone to home or to relatives but my family back home will tell you that my Brogue has become somewhere near undetectable. What's up there?)
posted by NiteMayr at 6:24 AM on November 22, 2010


I would think Emma Watson's Brown experience might give her the edge, but from the short clips it's hard to tell who actually has a knack for it. Tom Felton (Malfoy) seems like he can construct the most flowing sentences, even if they alternate between pseudo-Californian and a movie New York mafia henchman (the two most popular American accents for speakers of British English to imitate).
posted by Gnatcho at 6:25 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, the north American accent is easy if you are coming East to West, it's the other way that's difficult. Most Canadians and Americans REALLY can't get the ear for a great British Accent.

I don't know about "easy", even the actors most lauded for their American accents have tells or need to inflect a kind of faux regional dialect to cover them up.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:31 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Watson's subpar showing was the biggest surprise of this for me. She goes to Brown! If you plan on acting for a living, don't you normally pick these sorts of things up?

Grint sounded like he was at approximately 85% speed. I'd still totally go to the Olive Garden with him, though.

Felton kills it. And manages to remind me, startlingly, of Ryan Gosling. 20 points to Slytherin.
posted by Mizu at 6:31 AM on November 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


Not Slytherin. Not Slytherin
posted by Eyebeams at 6:36 AM on November 22, 2010


Ah, the north American accent is easy if you are coming East to West

I laughed out loud at this comment. I have really not experienced this. My partner has attempted an "American" accent on many occasions, and he sounds like an Australian in pain. I would have to say that quite a few accents I've seen on British television that should be American sound entirely artificial and, in the case of House of Cards, entirely laughable. I think there are just as many British people who can do a good "American" accent as do a really horrible one.

As an aside, Ruby Wax sounds like she's trying to put on one of those bad American accents when I hear her talk. It's jarring. I have to wonder if some English folks model the accent after hers?
posted by custardfairy at 6:37 AM on November 22, 2010


All of them had better American accents than the host.
posted by DU at 6:37 AM on November 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


But the host didn't have an accent. He spoke American. The freedom language..
posted by Ahab at 6:41 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ah, the north American accent is easy if you are coming East to West

As a south'ner acquaint'd with droppin' his 'gees', I reckon that droppin' my 'arrs' would just be jest as simple.

(of course I'd need an English to english dictionary for all the slang)
posted by device55 at 6:45 AM on November 22, 2010


But the host didn't have an accent. He spoke American.

"fareigners"? Chicago maybe? Really ugly either way.

But the real clincher is when he says "the olive garden". Nobody in the history of ever has pronounced that so poorly and unconvincingly. Google doesn't tell me where Josh Horowitz comes from, but I don't think it's the US.
posted by DU at 6:50 AM on November 22, 2010


The rain in Spain falls mainly on... Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?
posted by SNWidget at 6:52 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Economist presents the stars of Harry Potter trying to sound American.

I can't believe I live in a world where this is not an Onion headline.
posted by mkultra at 6:53 AM on November 22, 2010 [29 favorites]


"fareigners"? Chicago maybe? Really ugly either way.

There couldn't possibly have been weird emphasis on the word for comedic reasons.

I see no reason to think he isn't from the midwest. He sounds (and looks!) a great deal like a family friend.

The clip was really fun!
posted by kavasa at 6:56 AM on November 22, 2010


Also, this isn't really from the Economist. It's an MTV clip. MTV doesn't seem to have any information on the people they employ. Not even a basic bio.

Anyway, that's an accent, an affectation or a speech impediment. He's got it in other videos too.
posted by DU at 6:58 AM on November 22, 2010


But can Laurie do an American accent that isn't heavily inflected with contempt? That's what I always wonder.

I thought he did a pretty good non-contemptuous american accent as Stuart Little's dad.
posted by lordrunningclam at 6:58 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought Sam Worthington's American accent in Avatar was completely convincing. As was Rachel Griffith's in Six Feet Under.

Both Australians, FWIW.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:10 AM on November 22, 2010


I thought Sam Worthington's American accent in Avatar was completely convincing.

Are you kidding? That accent was the absolute pits. Rachel Griffith's accent in 6 Feet Under was quite good. Speaking of Aussies doing American, Heath Ledger did American well, and Toni Collette does as well - her Philly accent in the Sixth Sense was right on the bullseye.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:15 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


same with Bob Hoskins

Being English I may not be the most qualified person but I recently caught of few minutes of his performance in The White River Kid (I think) and his US accent made me cringe. It didn't sound right at all. As did Michael Caine's in The Weather Man.

I've often wondered why they even bother - for example in The Weather Man it would take half a line of dialogue to establish Cage's father is English, would make no difference to the storyline and wouldn't subject the audience (or at least me) to 102 minutes of his shitty sounding accent.
posted by jontyjago at 7:15 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hugh Laurie's House accent sounds to me precisely like a British actor doing an American accent very badly, particularly in the way he seems to gargle his 'r's. The fact that many Americans are completely fine with his accent implies to me that there are certain American accents that sound just like a British person doing an American accent badly. Which boggles the mind.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:18 AM on November 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


Oh, there couldn't be more than one American accent, could there?

Anwyays, high-brow link to an exhibition at the British Library called Evolving English.
posted by vacapinta at 7:18 AM on November 22, 2010


I find it difficult to do a convincing "British" accent because there are so many that it is difficult to fix on one to imitate. The only nonprofessionals I know who can do a good one are those who imitate the accent of their British parents. It may be easier for Britons to imitate Americans because (A) they are deluged with American speech via tv and movies and (B) the range of accents they hear there is narrower than the breadth of British accents we North Americans hear in British productions.

Hugh Laurie is dead convincing, but Tracy Ullman is the only one I've heard who can convincingly do the whole range of American accents.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 7:20 AM on November 22, 2010


I thought Sam Worthington's American accent in Avatar was completely convincing.

Really? I thought it was atrocious, and sounded more and more Australian as the movie wore on.

W/r/t Australians doing American accents, there's one line in Eyes Wide Shut where Nicole Kidman slightly slips up her pronunciation and for some reason because I know it's there it shoots out of the teevee like a giant neon squid.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:22 AM on November 22, 2010


It may be easier for Britons to imitate Americans because (A) they are deluged with American speech via tv and movies and (B) the range of accents they hear there is narrower than the breadth of British accents we North Americans hear in British productions.

There's also an accepted 'neutral' American accent that e.g. American newscasters and actors often learn (and which 'accent reduction' classes teach toward)-- and a disproportionate number of national reporters come from Omaha, Nebraska.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:28 AM on November 22, 2010


Strange side effect of my speech therapy to overcome stuttering is that I sometimes get complemented on my great American accent. I grew up in New Jersey.

If British TV is any indication Brits think all Americans sound like John Wayne or Fran Drescher.

I've been told my accent in French is really good, which is bad cause it makes people think I am way more skilled then I am (I can ask you time it is, basically)

Also the best moment in 6 feet Under is when Nate discovers Rachel's Sex Dirary and breaks off the engagement and the fight get so heated her totally looses her American accent for a few lines. It just made it seem so much more overwhelming.,
posted by The Whelk at 7:30 AM on November 22, 2010


On that note, I give you Sandra Oh doing a surprisingly decent English accent.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:32 AM on November 22, 2010


I sometimes get complemented on my great American accent. I grew up in New Jersey.

That is surprising.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:37 AM on November 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Joe Beese: I thought Sam Worthington's American accent in Avatar was completely convincing. As was Rachel Griffith's in Six Feet Under.
Both Australians, FWIW.


Turtles all the way down: It may be easier for Britons to imitate Americans because (A) they are deluged with American speech via tv and movies and (B) the range of accents they hear there is narrower than the breadth of British accents we North Americans hear in British productions.

I heard a few years ago that, these days, it's common to hear Australian schoolchildren affecting television-American accents as they play (presumably "gangstas and LAPD" or "serial killers and profilers" or something). Britain may be a bit more resistant to Americanisation in this sense, having, like France, an older culture it rallies around.

(When I was at school in Australia in the 1980s, I don't recall the other kids pretending to be American; then again, back then there were only five TV stations (three of them commercial) and regulations on the amount of foreign content.)
posted by acb at 7:41 AM on November 22, 2010


Also the best moment in 6 feet Under is when Nate discovers Rachel's Sex Dirary and breaks off the engagement and the fight get so heated her totally looses her American accent for a few lines. It just made it seem so much more overwhelming.,

See also: the scene in eXistenZ, in which Jude Law's accent slips and he yells "I'm fucking infected!" in an estuary-English accent.
posted by acb at 7:43 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


After the reaction I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps my own ear is somewhat damaged for American accents....(which might explain why I can never nail a North-Eastern or Mass. accent ever)
posted by NiteMayr at 7:44 AM on November 22, 2010


Most Canadians and Americans REALLY can't get the ear for a great British Accent.

Wot's all dis lowd of rubbish, thinn? Roight, loike, roight yew kin stahp peddlin' thet nunsinnce roight fekkin' naugh, ye sodden puntah.

Eh? Eh?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:46 AM on November 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


jontyjago: "same with Bob Hoskins


I've often wondered why they even bother - for example in The Weather Man it would take half a line of dialogue to establish Cage's father is English, would make no difference to the storyline and wouldn't subject the audience (or at least me) to 102 minutes of his shitty sounding accent.
"

I think the first movie I saw him in was Who Framed Roger Rabbit, sounded good to me. Again, apparently my ear for American Accents is as busted as American ears for the Brit.


Makes me think I've got it all wrong.
posted by NiteMayr at 7:47 AM on November 22, 2010


When I was in college, we had a string quartet come to do a performance, and the second violinist or something was Australian. The leader of the group asked him to do an American accent, so he goes "Get in the CARRRRRRRRR. God, you Americans all sound like pirates. ARRRRRR!"
posted by specialagentwebb at 7:47 AM on November 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I speak with a sort of suppressed East Tennessee "academic" accent. Every time I travel in the UK I get asked if I'm Canadian, even by other North Americans. I have no idea why this is other than that I try to use less slang and am more careful to enunciate words that I would normally drawl so that non-North American listeners can understand me better. Is that what it takes to fake a Canadian accent?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:52 AM on November 22, 2010


If anything, Bob Hoskin's British accent in Brazil sounds fake.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:59 AM on November 22, 2010


"fareigners"? Chicago maybe? Really ugly either way.

Actually, that's how I (native New Yorker, sans strong New York accent) pronounced the word for the first 24 years of my life, until I had spent a few years living in Chicago and my accent began to skew midwestern. I believe this is a standard pronunciation for New Yorkers, however ugly it may sound to you. And it's definitely not midwestern.

I also pronounced "orange" /ɑrɪndʒ/ and "parent" /pærɪnt/. Vowels play a huge role in regional accents but often pass below our awareness, perhaps because English is notoriously terrible when it comes to vowel orthography. (I don't know much about regional accents in other languages.)

(Also, if you want to hear something really ridiculous, ask someone from South Jersey to say "crayon.")
posted by pluckemin at 8:03 AM on November 22, 2010


I remember watching something recently on BBC America and not realizing for an entire episode that a character was supposed to be American. It was a vocabulary choice that finally gave it away. It make me wonder if he sounded American to the British audience, or just wasn't bothering. The winner, though, was in Buffy, where we had James Marsters, who was faking a British accent by imitating co-star Antony Head, then had a scene where he was called on to do the accent of a British person badly faking an American accent.

When I was in England, I just modified my vocabulary and left my accent more or less as-is, and found that I got pegged as not-from-England but not specifically American. I think if I'd tried for an accent, it would have been embarrassingly bad.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:13 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Best American accent by a foreigner: Michael Vartan, hands down.
posted by Iridic at 8:14 AM on November 22, 2010


le morte de bea arthur: The fact that many Americans are completely fine with his accent implies to me that there are certain American accents that sound just like a British person doing an American accent badly.

Well, Americans had to get their start somewhere.

Re: Hugh Laurie, he sounds like a really despondent James Garner.
posted by hanoixan at 8:17 AM on November 22, 2010


Accents are hard. And it's not the core of the accent that trips us up -- most people can learn to reputably imitate the basics of an accent. It's the oddities and the rule breakers. Accents are like language in the way -- you haven't really mastered a language until you know its idioms and its slang. There are a lot of English accents where one or two essential words will be completely out of character for the rest of the accent. Suddenly there will be a hard r at the end of a word where usually they would drop the r, or one single word will be pronounced in a way that sounds, to American ears, America, rather than English. And if we're natives of the accent, we may not even notice the specifics, but when people trip up on it, we catch it.

I think it's a bit easier for Brits pretending to do US accents, not because they're better at it, but because America has so many accents, and Americans are not as attuned to accents as England, where your accent comes with all sorts of class and other social markers. If somebody is speaking in something that sounds vaguely American, we assume they are some sort of American. It's only when the English attempt really specific regional accents that they show their hand. So the fact that half of the cast of the Wire was British (or Irish) went mostly unnoticed, but when Tracy Ullman attempted a Baltimore accent in "A Dirty Shame," it sounded like a parody rather than an actual accent. But, then, the Baltimore accent actually sounds like a parody, so she might have been dead on.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:19 AM on November 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Karmakaze: The winner, though, was in Buffy, where we had James Marsters, who was faking a British accent by imitating co-star Antony Head, then had a scene where he was called on to do the accent of a British person badly faking an American accent.

See also: Dominic West from the Wire, an English actor playing an American character, pretending to do some kind of crazy Dick Van Dyke cockney thing.
posted by afx237vi at 8:20 AM on November 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Emily Blunt did a very believable American accent in Sunshine Cleaning. She sounded slightly East Coast.
posted by marimeko at 8:23 AM on November 22, 2010


Does anyone remember a late-1980s British TV series named Press Gang? It had a character, played by an English actor, who was a caricature of American stereotypes as seen from Britain; i.e., a narcissistic loudmouth. (I imagine when they were preparing the series, they gave the actor a stack of VHS tapes of Happy Days and said "see the guy in the leather jacket? Be him.".) Needless to say, his American accent was somewhat ridiculous. I half expected for him to be revealed to be a delusional fantasist who hasn't been the same since a family holiday to Florida.
posted by acb at 8:28 AM on November 22, 2010


Is that what it takes to fake a Canadian accent?

Most English people don't know how Canadians sound. People sometimes assume that my warped/mongrel/expat accent is Canadian. If they hear an odd, yet vaguely North American accent, they'll often assume that it's Canadian.
posted by Human Flesh at 8:28 AM on November 22, 2010


Strange side effect of my speech therapy to overcome stuttering is that I sometimes get complemented on my great American accent. I grew up in New Jersey.

One of my friends grew up with a horrible speech impediment. Today, it's equally hard to understand what he says, because it's impossible to distract yourself from how %*$ing sexy his accent is. (His parents come from the UK, and there's a hint of Northern English in his dialect, which I think is what really makes it). Suffice it to say, he overcame his impediment, and talks better than almost anybody I know.

Random other trivia: James Earl Jones (ie. Darth Vader) grew up with a stutter.

Back to the topic on-hand, it's hilarious to hear Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson all speak in their "native" tongues. All three have much stronger regional accents than the (dare I say, highly Americanized) Oxford dialect that you hear in the movies.

It's a shame that the directors didn't use a greater variety of regional dialects for the Harry Potter characters. The huge array of regional accents is easily one of the most fun things about living in the UK.
posted by schmod at 8:32 AM on November 22, 2010


Most English people don't know how Canadians sound. People sometimes assume that my warped/mongrel/expat accent is Canadian. If they hear an odd, yet vaguely North American accent, they'll often assume that it's Canadian.

After living in the UK for a year, everybody I talked to (from both "sides of the pond") told me that I sounded Canadian.

After that, I decided that the Canadian accent is simply an American accent with the Queen's blessing.
posted by schmod at 8:33 AM on November 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


It's a shame that the directors didn't use a greater variety of regional dialects for the Harry Potter characters.

It would also make sense considering they're attending a boarding school.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:41 AM on November 22, 2010


A friend of mine is a Scotsman living in Canada. He still has his Scottish brogue. One time he did a little joke commercial on tape for his son's school. When other kids (who didn't know the man) heard him speak, several remarked: "that is the worst Scottish accent I've ever heard!"
posted by jnrussell at 8:46 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's also an accepted 'neutral' American accent that e.g. American newscasters and actors often learn (and which 'accent reduction' classes teach toward)-- and a disproportionate number of national reporters come from Omaha, Nebraska.

This accent is also known as "Canadian" - it's the sort of formal tone educated Canadians will usually use in public/business settings, even if they've got one roight powerful regional accent hidin' b'neat' it, b'y. Which is one reason why Canadians often do so well in broadcast news in the US - they arrive sort of pre-polished. See for example Peter Jennings, John Roberts (who'll always be J.D. Roberts from MuchMusic's PowerHour to a certain generation of Canadians), Ali Velshi, Ashleigh Banfield, Arthur Kent . . .
posted by gompa at 8:48 AM on November 22, 2010


Oh, Emma. It's OK to say "Twilight blows." You're safe at this point.

Also the best moment in 6 feet Under is when Nate discovers Rachel's Sex Dirary...

I would venture the best moment in Six Feet Under on this theme is when Brenda's naked Aussie friend (Colin?) is visiting and they all get high so Rachel Griffiths gets to tease him with a fake "Australian" accent (which I'm guessing is different from her real accent--sadly, I can't tell). Comedy by implication.
posted by kittyprecious at 8:51 AM on November 22, 2010


This right here is the watermark in bad British accents done by Americans. Truly painful. Like, I can barely stand to watch it.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:54 AM on November 22, 2010


Ah, goddamn, I meant this link here.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:55 AM on November 22, 2010


This right here is the watermark in bad British accents done by Americans. Truly painful. Like, I can barely stand to watch it.

Uhm. He's actually British.

I'm pretty sure the script called for his Cockney accent to be completely over-the-top, which might be why it sounds like a bad imitation
posted by schmod at 9:03 AM on November 22, 2010


Damnit. Is there something in the water in this thread? Fixed Link.
posted by schmod at 9:04 AM on November 22, 2010


This right here is the watermark in bad British accents done by Americans.

You say this, Happy Dave, as if you live in a blissful utopian parallel dimension in which Christian Slater and Kevin Costner were never paid extraordinary amounts of money to pretend to be medieval Englishmen.

Little known fact: In Robin Hood's time, everyone spoke as if they were Iowans who'd misplaced roughly 2/3 of their hard consonants. The remaining third could thus appear by surprise at almost any moment.
posted by gompa at 9:04 AM on November 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Uhm. He's actually British.

Someone didn't watch the whole clip.
posted by fullerine at 9:08 AM on November 22, 2010



fullerine: "Uhm. He's actually British.

Someone didn't watch the whole clip.
"

Yeah, I'm talking about Summer Glau.

gompa: "You say this, Happy Dave, as if you live in a blissful utopian parallel dimension in which Christian Slater and Kevin Costner were never paid extraordinary amounts of money to pretend to be medieval Englishmen.

Little known fact: In Robin Hood's time, everyone spoke as if they were Iowans who'd misplaced roughly 2/3 of their hard consonants. The remaining third could thus appear by surprise at almost any moment.
"

See, I just thought they weren't even really trying to do accents. Kevin Costner pretty much just sounds American in that movie, not even like he's trying. Whereas Summer Glau in the above-linked clip is trying so hard she's breaking it. Like, actively torturing it.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:12 AM on November 22, 2010


You've got it wrong, Summer Glau is just showing us how Future Space Urchins talk.
posted by The Whelk at 9:14 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Whelk: "You've got it wrong, Summer Glau is just showing us how Future Space Urchins talk."

Indeed, I love how Gaius Baltar appears to come from a planet entirely composed of Yorkshiremen.

It's just Planet of Hats applied to accents, but it never fails to amuse me when you get Space Cockneys and Space Yorkshiremen.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:20 AM on November 22, 2010


Best American accent I've heard was Jamie Bamber, who played Apollo in Battlestar Galactica. What made it convincing to my ear was that he didn't sound East or West Coast, but instead seemed to have an upper-Midwest accent, as if he was from Chicago. That might be the key to the American accent -- choose something recognizable but uncommon.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:26 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and the funniest American accent I've heard was Gina Bellman from Coupling, when she uncorked the Truth Snake.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:29 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would venture the best moment in Six Feet Under on this theme is when Brenda's naked Aussie friend (Colin?) is visiting and they all get high so Rachel Griffiths gets to tease him with a fake "Australian" accent (which I'm guessing is different from her real accent--sadly, I can't tell).

IIRC, at one point in The Wire, Dominic West briefly affects an English accent - which sounded different than the presumably real one he had in 28 Days.

The challenge of which reminds me of Julianne Moore's in Boogie Nights - where a good actress has to give a convincing performance as a bad actress.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:52 AM on November 22, 2010


Omigod I love the bad acting in Boogie Nights.

'Let me just check on something. That is a giant cock.'
posted by shakespeherian at 9:55 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eyebeams: "They need lessons from Hugh Laurie."

He not only does an American accent well, but there's one episode of House where he excuses himself for calling another doctor in the middle of the night by doing a fake British accent as if it were being attempted by an American.

I'm trying to imagine what a fake, overexaggerated American accent might sound like, but I can't quite do it. The Harry Potter stars don't get there because they're doing it too well.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:57 AM on November 22, 2010


Also, apropos of nothing: Want to hear a poem I wrote? 'I love you, you love me. Going down the sugar tree. We'll go down the sugar tree, and see lots of bees: playing, playing. But the bees won't sting, because you love me.' ....That's it.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:57 AM on November 22, 2010


It's a shame that the directors didn't use a greater variety of regional dialects for the Harry Potter characters.

Even with my loutish American ears, Seamus Finn and Cho Chang sound Scottish, Neville Longbottom sounds Liverpudlian, Madeye Moody sounds Irish, and - one of my bete noirs - Draco Malfoy sounds Cockney.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:00 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought Sam Worthington's American accent in Avatar was completely convincing.

It was terrible. Even worse than his performance in Terminator: Salvation. If it was so important for the plot of Avatar that he be a US Marine, they should have just made some sort of reference to his being born in the newly-conquered American colony of Australia and been done with it.
posted by zarq at 10:00 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to imagine what a fake, overexaggerated American accent might sound like, but I can't quite do it.

Think completely flat and nasal with a weird fake "twang"
posted by The Whelk at 10:01 AM on November 22, 2010


I'm trying to imagine what a fake, overexaggerated American accent might sound like, but I can't quite do it.

In one sequence of Rattle and Hum, Bono does a Johnny Cash impression.

It sounds like that.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:01 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to imagine what a fake, overexaggerated American accent might sound like, but I can't quite do it.

This clip should give you a pretty good ideeer.
posted by gompa at 10:08 AM on November 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, this isn't really from the Economist. It's an MTV clip. MTV doesn't seem to have any information on the people they employ. Not even a basic bio.

The interviewer is Josh Horowitz from MTV's 'After Hours with Josh Horowitz.'
posted by ericb at 10:13 AM on November 22, 2010


I read that William Hurt worked up a Russian accent for Gorky Park but director Michael Apted thought the odd mid-Atlantic thing used in film would be less confusing for audiences.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:13 AM on November 22, 2010


Christian Bale in American Psycho struck me as having a noticeably weak American accent.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:16 AM on November 22, 2010


Google doesn't tell me where Josh Horowitz comes from, but I don't think it's the US.

Nor does his sparse IMDb profile.
posted by ericb at 10:17 AM on November 22, 2010


I was gobsmacked when I learned that Connie Booth of Fawlty Towers was American. I had no idea.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:20 AM on November 22, 2010


I love Gina Bellman. I want to eat her up with a spoon. Which is absolutely irrelevant in a conversation about accents. But I have no opinion about anything even remotely connected to Harry Potter or its young adult actors.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:21 AM on November 22, 2010


Jonny Lee Miller (as Jordan Chase) has a convincing American accent in the current season of 'Dexter'
posted by ericb at 10:22 AM on November 22, 2010


When my mother lived in London in the 70's, she said every Brit's attempt at an American accent came in two flavors: Cowboy and Game Show Host. I blame Monty Python for that.
posted by piratebowling at 10:31 AM on November 22, 2010


That reminds of that one interview by K3 where the other two girls tease the blond one that when they're on tour in the Netherlands she loses her flemish accent and starts to talk in a dutch accent. It was eerie to hear her switch from flemish to goois!!

What? You can't tell the difference you say? The narcissism of small differences?
posted by joost de vries at 10:32 AM on November 22, 2010


I think it's a bit easier for Brits pretending to do US accents, not because they're better at it, but because America has so many accents...

Airplanes fly better in the sky than in the ocean because there aren't so many fish up there. Or something.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:37 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it's a bit easier for Brits pretending to do US accents, not because they're better at it, but because America has so many accents...

America certainly has a bigger population base, but I think they're the same in a pound-for-pound comparison. My Irish grandfather claimed to be able to do unique accents and dialects from each of the counties of Ireland. I don't know if he was accurate, but they sure sounded different to me.

If you think about it, a "different accent per county" is essentially the same thing as there being, for example, a different Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island accent.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:42 AM on November 22, 2010


My favorite accented English is that of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. My troll friends and I often crack each other up talking like yoopers, basically you just open your mouth about a half inch, lock your bottom jaw in place and talk rapidly. Usually once we start we can't stop. Holy wah.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:43 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"...every Brit's attempt at an American accent came in two flavors: Cowboy and Game Show Host. I blame Monty Python for that."

Game show hosts Monty Hall, Alex Trebec, Pat Bullard, Alan Thicke and Howie Mandel are Canadian.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:43 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


My grandmother was from Manhattan and tended to stick an extra 'r' on the end of words like that.

The law of conservation of r's: r's can neither be created nor destroyed. They are simply moved from one word to another.
posted by plinth at 10:46 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was gobsmacked when I learned that Connie Booth of Fawlty Towers was American. I had no idea.

Her accent isn't great. She handles the consonants and general vowel shapes as roughly accurate RP but she doesn't sound like she's from anywhere in Britain in particular and the intonation is very American. That said she does do a funny line in pretending to do an American accent ("Oh, I'm just a gal who cain't say no") in Gourmet Night.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:46 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Consider the relative land areas of Britain and the U.S. Consider their respective populations. Consider that it would be relatively easy to find two people from different parts of Britain who cannot understand each other's accents. Consider trying to find two people from different parts of the U.S. who cannot understand each other's accents. Now consider that some people in this thread really don't understand what they're talking about.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:47 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's a bit easier for Brits pretending to do US accents, not because they're better at it, but because America has so many accents...

Unlike Britain, where everyone sounds like Hugh Grant or someone out of a Guy Ritchie movie, right? :-)
posted by Decani at 10:47 AM on November 22, 2010


ahhaaaa i forgot how funny that movie is. god i love that scene so much. makes my face hurt from grinnin'.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:50 AM on November 22, 2010


Unlike Britain, where everyone sounds like Hugh Grant or someone out of a Guy Ritchie movie, right? :-)

I can name three different accents from the various suburbs of Minneapolis -- people from Edina sound different than people from North Minneapolis sound different than people from St. Louis Park.

I know that England has a lot of accents -- I lived in Bath as a child, and as you head from Bath into London you pass probably 100 distinctive accents. But America is a billion times bigger and is just as varied. We're just deaf to it. Heck, New York alone has dozens and dozens of accents in each of its various burroughs, many if them based on ethnicity, and Harlem is twice as large as the entire British Isles. I once saw a demonstration of how big England was compared to America. Apparently, the entirety of Cornwall would fit in an average Hundai.

Stop seven people in New Orleans and ask them to pronounce the name of their city. You'll get seven answers, and each points out a different parish they come from, and a different cultural background. Except the ones who say Nawlins. They're tourists.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:10 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Turtles all the way down: "It may be easier for Britons to imitate Americans because (A) they are deluged with American speech via tv and movies and (B) the range of accents they hear there is narrower than the breadth of British accents we North Americans hear in British productions."

Don't discount the advantage of immersion. When I was a child living in Texas and Georgia I'm told I spoke with a southern drawl. Then we moved back to the midwest and I've lost it. One time when I was vacationing in London for a week, I'd accidentally speak with a British accent by the end.

You don't see many people moving to London to make it big as an actor.
posted by pwnguin at 11:15 AM on November 22, 2010


I notice this game was loaded in favor of the kids, as the interviewer didn't bring in the Champ -- Alan Rickman, who pulled off being an English actor playing a German faking an American accent in Die Hard.
posted by bearwife at 11:17 AM on November 22, 2010


When I was a child living in Texas and Georgia I'm told I spoke with a southern drawl.

I once picked up a Tennessee accent for a week. Also my friend from Kentucky who currently lives in New York only has a drawl when he's talking about his family, but then it's really pronounced.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:19 AM on November 22, 2010


The following has nothing to do with anyone's attempt at an accent, American or otherwise.

I saw Harry Potter 7 this weekend despite not having seen any of the other movies or read any of the books.

I will now be able to recognize Emma Watson if she, like EVERY OTHER BROWN STUDENT, saunters out in front of my car without looking. And I will be able to yell "HERMIONE! GET OUT OF THE FUCKING ROAD!" and save the day.

The end.

(Seriously: Brown students. Look where you're going when you cross the street. The street. That thing that you walk on. There are cars. They're those things with wheels that are bigger than you are.)
posted by sonika at 11:26 AM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Joe Beese: "It's a shame that the directors didn't use a greater variety of regional dialects for the Harry Potter characters.

Even with my loutish American ears, Seamus Finn and Cho Chang sound Scottish, Neville Longbottom sounds Liverpudlian, Madeye Moody sounds Irish, and - one of my bete noirs - Draco Malfoy sounds Cockney.
"

Seamus Finn is Northern Irish, Cho Chang is Glaswegian, Neville is from somewhere around Manchesters sounds like, MadEye is indeed Irish and Draco Malfoy is estuary-english-attempting-to-sound-like-boarding-school. But good guesses. In the most recent film, Bill Nighy does a pretty decent stab at Welsh as Rufus Scrimgeour, which shouldn't work but it does.

Also, and I'm sure I'm not the only one to have noticed this - every single HP film except the latest one has a scene where the Northern Irish kid blows something up in his face. Hilarious, sort of, in a distinctly inappropriate way.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:29 AM on November 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


While we're on the topic of the movie, Dobby was trending on Twitter this weekend. I wonder how many people who saw the most recent Harry Potter film had not yet been born the last time Dobby appeared on screen?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:29 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


For extra credit: How many people who saw Toby Jones play Capote in Infamous had not been born the first time Dobby appeared on screen?
posted by Iridic at 11:43 AM on November 22, 2010


Wasn't "Twilight blows" basically in the script already?
posted by rollick at 11:45 AM on November 22, 2010


I wonder how many people who saw the most recent Harry Potter film had not yet been born the last time Dobby appeared on screen?

Mrs. Beese - my resident authority on the Potterverse - tells me that the Chamber of Secrets screenwriters weren't going to include Dobby before Rowling told them that he would figure importantly later. And so it proved.

The result being that I can longer hate him as I once did. But his inability or refusal to use pronouns is still irritating.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:57 AM on November 22, 2010


Consider trying to find two people from different parts of the U.S. who cannot understand each other's accents.

Finding a pair that were mutually unintelligible might be more difficult, but I've certainly met people using local variants of AAVE that I could not understand, and people using Appalachian dialects that I could not understand.

Not to mention arriving in western NY and having to ask the cashier to repeat herself three or four times because she kept saying "Zyagdamound?"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:04 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know that England has a lot of accents... (b)ut America is a billion times bigger and is just as varied.

This is so wrong it's making my head hurt. Also, Britain is rather more than simply England.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:04 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Google doesn't tell me where Josh Horowitz comes from, but I don't think it's the US.

Nor does his sparse IMDb profile.


According to Gothamist, he's from the Upper West Side, so go figure....
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 12:06 PM on November 22, 2010


Speaking of pronouns, Truman Capote had something to say about that when playing Lionel Twain in Murder by Death:

Milo Perrier: What do you make of all of this, Wang?

Sidney Wang: Is confusing.

Lionel Twain: It!
It is confusing. Say your goddamn pronouns!

And so we come full circle.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:07 PM on November 22, 2010


> So the fact that half of the cast of the Wire was British (or Irish) went mostly unnoticed, but when Tracy Ullman attempted a Baltimore accent in "A Dirty Shame," it sounded like a parody rather than an actual accent. But, then, the Baltimore accent actually sounds like a parody, so she might have been dead on.

Really? This week's opportunity to hassle the British and you're going to try to start a city fight just for the hell of it? And you're going to do it based on accents, starting from Minneapolis? I'll just start stockpiling then...

Dominic West did a passable job, though it sounded terrible when he overreached for something very specific. (At no point in that bit from season 5 does he sound anything like a "gearhead from Dundalk.") Aiden Gillen was just bizarre to listen to. In and out of the accent, sort of Boston, not at all Baltimore.
posted by el_lupino at 12:11 PM on November 22, 2010


"...every Brit's attempt at an American accent came in two flavors: Cowboy and Game Show Host. I blame Monty Python for that."

Best is when it's both in the same character. I was watching an old episode of Lovejoy which featuring two American con artists who, when angered, transmogrified in dialect from vaguely New England to full-on Texan.
posted by heyforfour at 12:12 PM on November 22, 2010


This week's opportunity to hassle the British and you're going to try to start a city fight just for the hell of it?

Have you ever heard somebody from Baltimore say "ocean?" It sounds as though they were trying to demonstrate the size of the ocean by expanding their mouth to an appropriate circumference.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:17 PM on November 22, 2010


Consider trying to find two people from different parts of the U.S. who cannot understand each other's accents.

I worked in construction for the first six years that I lived in Pittsburgh and spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the hell half my co-workers were talking about. "Hey kid, quit nebbin' around and go broom deez stairz down" "Jeet yet?" "Them doors need done" "Yinz gonna die in here? Git to work".
posted by octothorpe at 12:19 PM on November 22, 2010


Consider trying to find two people from different parts of the U.S. who cannot understand each other's accents.

All right. Give me a Boontling and a Cajun and I'll take you up on that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:24 PM on November 22, 2010


Possible Shutter Island spoiler to follow...

I still think the movie should have ended with Ben Kingsley taking out a reel-to-reel tape player, turning it on for DiCaprio, and saying "This is what a Boston accent sounds like."
posted by Joe Beese at 12:31 PM on November 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love that the script for The Departed is aware that there are different Boston accents, including a Southie accent, but the actors are incapable of producing them, but for Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg, who both actually come from Massachusets.

And the Irish accents in Gangs of New York are, in and of themselves, international war crimes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:38 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Consider trying to find two people from different parts of the U.S. who cannot understand each other's accents.

I've seen it happen. Deep Southern/Boston. Boston/Midwestern. Etc. Not necessarily entire sentences, but definitely some words here and there receive a "Wait, WHAT?" just as much as if the other speaker were British or Australian instead of some other flavor of American.
posted by sonika at 12:39 PM on November 22, 2010


So the fact that half of the cast of the Wire was British (or Irish) went mostly unnoticed

It didn't go unnoticed. Dominic West was fine, until his character got angry or excited, then the Yorkshire accent would pop up out of nowhere. Like el_lupino said, Aiden Gillen's accent would come and go randomly, and seemed to bounce around the mid-Atlantic coast.

Idris Elba
, however, was great. I was genuinely surprised the first time I hear him speaking with a London accent.
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 12:46 PM on November 22, 2010


The Departed is aware that there are different Boston accents...

Wahtch Your Mouth! Calling Out the Worst Boston Accents in Moviedom.
posted by ericb at 1:02 PM on November 22, 2010


Julianne Moore's Boston accent on Season 4 of 30 Rock makes me want to stick toothpicks into my eyes, repeatedly.
posted by sonika at 1:03 PM on November 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ben Affleck teaches Jimmy Kimmel about Boston accents.
posted by ericb at 1:05 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Consider trying to find two people from different parts of the U.S. who cannot understand each other's accents.

Happened to me. I grew up on both coasts, lived near Cleveland, have a pretty 'neutral' accent. Went to college in central Ohio, met someone from southern-central Ohio, got into a conversation about our hometowns, had to ask him to repeat himself four times and then gave up on the conversation.

I'm not saying I think US accents vary in the same way British ones do, just that you should think twice before making claims like you did above and then stating that some people "don't know what they're talking about."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:13 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Horrible American accent? David Tennant is a brilliant actor in so many other ways, but his American accent in the unreleased NBC pilot, Rex is Not Your Lawyer, is painful.
posted by colfax at 1:31 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why did they dub over Tennant with Pete Campell?
posted by The Whelk at 1:35 PM on November 22, 2010


Consider trying to find two people from different parts of the U.S. who cannot understand each other's accents.

What is a "yoot?" (1:10 in the video)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:41 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


My troll friends and I often crack each other up talking like yoopers, basically you just open your mouth about a half inch, lock your bottom jaw in place and talk rapidly. Usually once we start we can't stop. Holy wah.

My god, my best friend is a Yooper. (An aside, her extended family now lives in Spread Eagle, WI. I swear it.) Her accent is fairly tame most of the time. But bring out a good IPA and we're flyin'.

This is my favorite conversation, one we've actually had more than once:

Friend: Eh, can you hand me that bayg?

Me: That what?

Friend: That bayg. That bayg witdebeerinit, right over der.

*pause*

Me: BAG!

Friend: Wull, yah. Bayg.

Me: Haha, BAG! BAG! BAAAAA-AAAAG.

Friend: ButhaswhatIsaid. Bayg.

Me: No, no. BAG.

Friend: Baaaa-aaah-g?

Me: Yes.

Friend: Bag.

Me: Bag.

*pause*

Friend: Well, ya know, whatever. Just hand me that BAG with the BYEER cans in it. Holy wah.

Me: *cracking up.*
posted by functionequalsform at 2:10 PM on November 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


functionequalsform: I am from Milwaukee, Spouse is from Chicago, and Every God-damned Time we discuss bagels, we have that same conversation.
posted by everichon at 3:30 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


No shout out for Stephen Moyer in True Blood?

Does anyone remember a late-1980s British TV series named Press Gang? It had a character, played by an English actor, who was a caricature of American stereotypes as seen from Britain; i.e., a narcissistic loudmouth.

That was Dexter Fletcher. I remember being amazed that he wasn't actually American, but then I was a child from Cambridgeshire.
posted by Summer at 3:30 PM on November 22, 2010


sonika, Watson apparently got incredibly miffed one time when her eagerly raised hand and correct answer got a shout of "10 points to Gryffindor!" from the back of the lecture hall. I'd suggest that, instead of calling her Hermione to get her out of the road, you just run her over as an example to the rest of the student rabble, because otherwise she might just key your car and slash your tires from rebellion.

Anyway. My mother was born and raised in Houston, TX, but had traveled the world by the time she went to college in Maine. But when she went there, occasionally there would be thickly accented friends of my father's where he would have to translate for the both of them. I can speak an amalgamation of Maine and Texas accents and evidently I come out sounding like I'm from "Space Ireland", according to one inebriated compatriot.
posted by Mizu at 3:49 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had exactly the same thought about Dexter Fletcher. But I was a child from Bradford. Besides, it wasn't him I was looking at.

FWIW, he was in Band of Brothers too. Remember the episode where one guy gets back from hospital and hardly anyone remembers him because so much has happened since? There's a sergeant that gets annoyed with him and volunteers him for a mission. He was that sergeant. He's in other episodes too but that's the scene I remember. I remember being impressed by that too.
posted by vbfg at 3:53 PM on November 22, 2010


I make no claims to being an accent expert, but to my ear Orlando Bloom and Heath Ledger murder the Irish accent in Ned Kelly.
posted by wilful at 4:13 PM on November 22, 2010


> Have you ever heard somebody from Baltimore say "ocean?" It sounds as though they were trying to demonstrate the size of the ocean by expanding their mouth to an appropriate circumference.


...


Why, yes. I have. Some find it mellifluous, in fact. And that characteristic rolling sounds is actually made by tightening the corners of the mouth, not stretching them. Perhaps you should revisit your notes on phonology.

...walking away... bigger man... walking away...
posted by el_lupino at 4:27 PM on November 22, 2010


And the Irish accents in Gangs of New York are, in and of themselves, international war crimes.

*eyelid twitch* ....Let us not speak of that.

I get a little picky about Irish accents, actually, because I'm kind of a Hiberniophile anyway -- and I just plain love that accent as well. I can do a fair one, but only because I worked on it above and beyond what some of my speech classes in college were teaching. I tried a trick I'd read Danny Thomas tried -- I forget where I read this, but somewhere I read that he wanted to try to pass as Jewish rather than Lebanese, so he wanted to try to develop a sort of faint "Hi, I've been a comedian on the borscht belt for years" accent. And so -- he started learning some Yiddish, because he figured that if he picked up some of the patterns of the language that the accent came FROM, it would help. So I did the same -- I tried teaching myself some Gaelic. However, the thing that helped me most was having a friend who lived in Cork; my Irish accent isn't "me doing an Irish accent, " it's more "me doing Cliona's accent."

Incidentally, my accent/speech teachers at the conservatory I went to also tried to instill a sort of general "American accent" in everyone, and THEY claimed that the standardized "American Accent" is based on the way people in California and CONNECTICUT talk. Because -- as they said -- "they were the most generic accents." I am from Connecticut, and was always more amused by that claim than I probably had any right to be. But this also meant that while the rest of the class was trying to iron out their regional dialects, I was ahead of the game and only had to work on things like clear consonant production and volume.

As for weird regional accents -- I have an aunt who grew up in Texas, but then moved to Cape Cod for 20 years after marrying my uncle. And -- the two accents MELDED. She had the most unusual accent I've ever heard. ( It also really fucked with my efforts to do a southern accent in class -- I always ended up doing Aunt Mary instead.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:21 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


There appears to be a new type of accent that is being adopted by young 'uns over here. Here's an example (scuse the poor sound quality). Josh Thomas is also a devotee. I call it 'Australian Internet'.

It's only marginally more annoying than full on bogan.

Yes, I am old and my accent is neutral.
posted by h00py at 6:30 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was on a BA flight from Heathrow to Arlanda, Sweden, when the flight attendant announced it was time for .. Jujifreeze!

Everybody in the cabin seemed to get sort of excited and started rummaging around in their handbags or carryons as the flight attendant started walking down the aisle...""Jujifreeze! Jujifreeze! she cheerfully called out. As she approached my seat, she looked directly at me..."Jujifreeze?"

"Pardon me?"
"Jujifreeze!"
"Um...I'm sorry...Jujifreeze?"

She looked puzzled, and said it a little more slowly.."Juji...freeze."

The people in the cabin seemed to get a little impatient at me holding the process...the damn Jujifreeze must have been pretty damn important, and I could feel the eyes on me.

"Juju freeze?"

She heaved a sigh..."Jew-cheey freeze."

Suddenly it struck me, and I felt like an idiot.

"Oh! Oh! okay, I see! Um...no, thanks."

Duty free items, mostly liquor.
posted by Xoebe at 6:30 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah...People magazine is great...oh wait, the Economist?
posted by hal_c_on at 7:26 PM on November 22, 2010


We can't watch Clone Wars with wincing every fifteen seconds.

"Quick! Ready your weapons!"

(...ok, not too bad...)

"Look ivriboddi, et's Je-die Mass-teh Yoh-duh!"

(...oh god shoot me...)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:34 PM on November 22, 2010


(More confusing things Americans say: Freerdago! Cajubrmayoh!)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:37 PM on November 22, 2010


hey i just found this and thought it was interesting: some regionalisations of Australian pronunciation.


via this interesting post about melbourne accents.
posted by wilful at 9:16 PM on November 22, 2010


When my kids were younger and heavily into The Wiggles, they would occasionally say something with an Australian accent, which would always crack me up.
posted by eye of newt at 9:19 PM on November 22, 2010


I'm trying to imagine what a fake, overexaggerated American accent might sound like, but I can't quite do it.

Just rroll the rrrrrrs and speak with a Southern drawl, y'all.
posted by acb at 4:22 AM on November 23, 2010


Actors I didn't know were foreign by their American accents: Charlize Theron, Anthony LaPaglia, Portia De Rossi, Julian McMahon, and (as mentioned above) Jamie Bamber. Sure, some of them are mediocre actors, but goddamn, their American accents are flawless. I've never heard any of the first four use their original accents in interviews, so I guess they have to be "American" all the time.
posted by zerbinetta at 6:11 PM on November 23, 2010


Ah, the north American accent is easy if you are coming East to West, it's the other way that's difficult. Most Canadians and Americans REALLY can't get the ear for a great British Accent.

Well, British people seem to think that the North American accent is easy. The evidence (such as the many really bad fake American accents that can be heard on the BBC) suggests otherwise. I think the British have just as bad an ear for American accents as Americans have for British accents.
posted by klausness at 5:59 AM on November 24, 2010


An addendum in the linked article links to this interesting LanguageLog post that discusses the difficulties in getting the American accent right.
posted by klausness at 6:07 AM on November 24, 2010


That LanguageLog post is very interesting, but I'd like to point out that while it's not true of all New England accents, the Vermont accent does specifically add an r to words ending in a schwa. Florida always becomes Florider, whether or not it's followed by a vowel. My father took Marsher, not Marcia, to be his wife. It's like an r rehabilitation program for the ones dropped by the Boston accent.
posted by sonika at 6:41 AM on November 24, 2010


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