So, where are you from?
March 1, 2008 9:25 PM   Subscribe

Amy Walker does a little tour of 21 accents in 2 1/2 minutes. From the UK and Ireland to Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Russia, France, Australia, New Zealand, and around North America.

Her site. via.
posted by nickyskye (145 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not sure about the other ones, but her Texas accent is a dud. On the other hand, it's interesting to watch from a mechanical standpoint. Definitely takes some mental organization to switch gears like that.
posted by Addlepated at 9:32 PM on March 1, 2008


So what's her real voice sound like?
posted by chrisamiller at 9:41 PM on March 1, 2008


I couldn't watch the whole thing, here weird glaring straight into my brain was too freaky. The accents were ok I guess, nothing special honestly.
posted by parallax7d at 9:41 PM on March 1, 2008


*her
posted by parallax7d at 9:41 PM on March 1, 2008


Yeah, she was missing accuracy on a few of them. Toronto and the first London one particularly. I don't know the others well enough (although I thought South Carolina was good), but they're certainly better than the majority you hear in films today. Dick Van Dyke, anyone? I'd say she was around 85% or above though, which is pretty good for so many accents.

Her profile blurb on youtube makes me want to vomit, though.
posted by Brockles at 9:43 PM on March 1, 2008


I'd have to agree with the sage youtube commenter who remarked "lick my balls, we don't sound like that in toronto"

Her California sounded much closer to anything I'd call a Canadian accent.
posted by davey_darling at 9:45 PM on March 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Saw this on Digg this morning. Love the Toronto one. I'm a sucker for that Fargo accent.
posted by hjo3 at 9:45 PM on March 1, 2008


Well, I thought the O HALLO! bit was hilarious, although I've never heard any actual Canadians speaking like that.
posted by pravit at 9:45 PM on March 1, 2008


Yeah, that was pretty weird. I thought it was interesting, if nothing else, to watch the shape of her mouth as she makes the different voices -- she really does shift it to the side when doing the Texas accent, for example. It really does sort of look like a cartoon.

I thought the Seattle accent was a little forced-sounding, considering that she's from Whidbey Island.
posted by rossination at 9:46 PM on March 1, 2008


Oh, and that "1940s Trans-Atlantic"... I would kill to be able to talk like that. I'd do it constantly.
posted by hjo3 at 9:47 PM on March 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


although I've never heard any actual Canadians speaking like that.

Maybe she should have gone for the flip top head and Uncle Fucker references be done with all these half-arsed measures?
posted by Brockles at 9:47 PM on March 1, 2008


Oh, and that "1940s Trans-Atlantic"... I would kill to be able to talk like that. I'd do it constantly.

Where 'constantly' is 'the few short moments before I was stabbed to death for being incredibly pretentious'.
posted by Brockles at 9:48 PM on March 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


Is she going to eat me? I hope she's not going to eat me.
posted by nzero at 9:49 PM on March 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Problem is that the more you know an accent, the less she will seem to have it right. Her Cockney did sound a bit like Dick Van Dyke. and her Toronto accent was some kind of strange half-British, half-generic Canadian, half-Maritimer (when she started, I thought it was going to be Nova Scotia). Her Seattle accent was closer to Toronto. (I'm from Toronto, and no American would realise until I said.)

Her Sydney was eeriely right - much more like the Australians I've known than her other Australian accent (which was very Paul Hogan). Her Wellington/NZ didn't ring quite as true, but then again all the Kiwis I've known (including an ex-roommate) were so quiet and dry in their manner that I've taken that now as an essential part of the accent.
posted by jb at 9:51 PM on March 1, 2008


That was interesting. I love hearing other accents and I'm impressed that she could switch so quickly. She didn't attempt the Kansas accent (which is no accent at all - we're known for our bland "everyman/woman" voices that newscasters try to emulate).
posted by amyms at 9:54 PM on March 1, 2008


I wonder if she based her accents on the represented stereotypes of the accents, rather than the accents themselves - ie any US film seems to represent English accents as being all Hugh Grant and plummy (at least until very recent years), so maybe most people think that is how we talk. I swear most people watching Snatch or Lock Stock wouldn't know they were English accents based on what you see in other films for 'England'.

Basically, has she been to those places and experienced a real accent to copy, or just copied what she thinks represents the regions?
posted by Brockles at 9:57 PM on March 1, 2008


Her Cockney did sound a bit like Dick Van Dyke.

Interesting, as she didn't even try an Cockney accent. She did a South London one, and it wasn't horrific (the second London one). If it was supposed to be Cockney, she needs shooting.
posted by Brockles at 10:00 PM on March 1, 2008


I can't speak for the other ones, but her "Texas" is pretty damn sorry. Are the rest of them caricatures of what she thinks people might sound like as well?
posted by puke & cry at 10:00 PM on March 1, 2008


Oh, and that "1940s Trans-Atlantic"... I would kill to be able to talk like that. I'd do it constantly.

But wouldn't you get tired of wearing the fedora all the time?
posted by Justinian at 10:01 PM on March 1, 2008 [6 favorites]


Pretty good! Most of the accents ring true to me, but I'm not that worldly so I don't know if some of them are failures. The Brooklyn accent was a hoot, though. I wish she could've included a Bahston accent, though.
posted by flatluigi at 10:06 PM on March 1, 2008


When I listened to it i found the north american accents just 'not right'. However I'd bet they'd fly just fine in the UK diaspora, just like her UK accents would fly just fine in the US.
posted by MrLint at 10:07 PM on March 1, 2008


meh
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 10:09 PM on March 1, 2008


I think the Toronto one is, as others have said, the worst. It sounded more like North Dakota. Torontonians sound like a generic broadcast standard accent with some weirdness when it comes to the "ow" sound like in "out" and "about" which a native will shift towards "oot" and "aboot". Not like the exaggerated Bob&Doug Mackenzie accent but in that general direction.

The Los Angeles one isn't bad but then how hard is it, really, to do a California accent as long as you don't do something silly like mid-80's valley girl?

These sound like theatrical accents to me, which a quick glance at her website seems to confirm.
posted by Justinian at 10:11 PM on March 1, 2008


This is like I'm watching To Tell the Truth, only it's just one lady as 21 contestants. (I think the real one was the first one. What do you think, Kitty Carlisle?)
posted by not_on_display at 10:11 PM on March 1, 2008


What others said -- good enough for the stage as long as the audience is from somewhere other than the place she's affecting to hail from, but almost embarrassingly bad if you're from there. And the supposedly Seattle one was just your basic American newscaster neutral.

Good effort distinguishing Irish from Northern Irish, can't vouch for its quality but most people wouldn't have bothered.

Oh, and the 1940s Transatlantic sounded like a Katherine Hepburn impression.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:19 PM on March 1, 2008


It is impressive that she at least attempts three London accents (or two London accents and one Received Pronunciation accent), as well as two Australian accents (and a New Zealand accent). Technically not bad, if a bit stagy. I've worked in theater for decades and you're often lucky to find actors who will even attempt an accent, much less produce sounds that resemble the actual accent, so kudos to her.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:19 PM on March 1, 2008


Is she going to eat me? I hope she's not going to eat me.

It was comments like this that got me to watch the video. She's just so intense in this video. I don't know what it is.

Ever see that move Love Actually? There is one character who is supposed to be "American", yet, her character slips in and out of a British accent. I couldn't figure out where she was from, and then I realized she was a British actress playing an American character, and sometimes missing the mark. For some reason I find it fascinating when British people try to emulate American accents.
posted by delmoi at 10:25 PM on March 1, 2008


the supposedly Seattle one was just your basic American newscaster neutral.

She grew up like 30 miles outside of Seattle. I'm guessing Seattle is her native accent.
posted by Justinian at 10:27 PM on March 1, 2008


The most common mistake English actors seem to make when doing American is overdoing the Rs and even adding ones that aren't there. They'll put one between a word ending in a vowel and one beginning with one, so "area of town" becomes "arear of town". It's really strange.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:29 PM on March 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Texas accent sounded like the squirrel from Spongebob. Any Texans have an opinion? Did it fly?
posted by CarlRossi at 10:29 PM on March 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think you can hear her 'real voice' in the beginning of this video, before slpping into what sounds like her 'trans-Atlantic' accent.
posted by delmoi at 10:32 PM on March 1, 2008


Thanks for posting this, I sent this to a few of my friends who think it's weird that I can do accents. A few of hers were weak, but she covered a lot of variety and she switched accents pretty cleanly.

There's a friend of mine who goes into anti-social spirals and so if he's in one and I want him to talk to me, I start leaving him 2-3 voicemails a day with different accents each time. I've sent him a list of 15 or 16 different voices I will choose randomly between, so he's actually expecting it and has told me that he purposely doesn't pick up the phone sometimes just to hear what I'm going to do... I figure if I'm going to nag/stalk someone I might as well entertain myself and make them laugh. Usually I only get through two to four messages before he calls me up laughing and cheered up. Totally works.

Accents are fun. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 10:33 PM on March 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


area of town" becomes "arear of town". It's really strange.

Uh, that's an actual American accent. It's called an intrusive R. I'm not sure where else you get people talking like that but a bunch of native Connecticutians I knew had it.
posted by Justinian at 10:34 PM on March 1, 2008


BTW, that 1940s Trans Atlantic was basically Katherine Hepburn's accent base.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:35 PM on March 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's funny. I was nodding along, impressed, until she got to the Toronto accent, which she appears to have picked up from Bob and Doug MacKenzie, whereupon I winced. Of course, I'm sitting in Toronto.

Which leads me to wonder if everyone else in the named cities was impressed with 20 accents and then screwed their face up for one.

She can still do 20 accents more than I can.
posted by bicyclefish at 10:39 PM on March 1, 2008


The Brooklyn accent sucked real bad. Charleston was pretty good, though.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:41 PM on March 1, 2008


Just looked at her site... she graduated high school in 2001 but says she has "20+ years" of acting experience. Nothing on her résumé seems to be from her childhood, though, so maybe she's including a lot of the in-front-of-the-mirror work she's done.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:44 PM on March 1, 2008


Weird how so many are critiquing her accuracy on this or that accent. You fail to appreciate that she did 21 in a row really fast, and no, you cannot do anything approaching this, so where do you get off with your armchair vocal coaching?!
posted by gorgor_balabala at 10:47 PM on March 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Gorgor: I can't throw like an NFL quarterback but I still get to bitch when Eli Manning tosses an interception. Defensive much?
posted by Justinian at 10:51 PM on March 1, 2008


gorgor_balabala, that's the old "you can't make movies/write novels/paint landscapes so where do you get off criticising anyone else?" fallacy. Performers put themselves out there and they've chosen a profession that involves being persuasive and convincing. Anyone is entitled to criticize. Not saying they're right in any given case, but an audience is certainly at liberty to say whether they find a performer convincing, and if the performer doesn't want to be put in that position, they've chosen the wrong line of work.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:51 PM on March 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


We're on MetaFilter, gorgor. If we're not being snarky and/or critical about something we start going into withdrawl.
posted by flatluigi at 10:52 PM on March 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yeah the Toronto accent is waaay off. It sounds vaguely like it cobbled from watching an episode of Corner Gas or something. Seattle or California sound a lot more like Toronto, all she had to do was pronounce "sorry" like "sore-y" instead of the American "sari".

And the supposedly Seattle one was just your basic American newscaster neutral.

Funny how that one accent is perceived as an "absence" of accent.

The most common mistake English actors seem to make when doing American is overdoing the Rs and even adding ones that aren't there.

Hugh Laurie still does a great American accent, even if it doesn't sound quite like any established American accent.
posted by bobo123 at 11:00 PM on March 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


assume my misspelling of withdrawal is a pun based on the FFP's subject matter.
posted by flatluigi at 11:15 PM on March 1, 2008


The most common mistake English actors seem to make when doing American is overdoing the Rs and even adding ones that aren't there...so "area of town" becomes "arear of town".

My god, Rhode Island is populated almost entirely by English actors.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:35 PM on March 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


The Texas accent sounded like the squirrel from Spongebob. Any Texans have an opinion? Did it fly?

Reminded me of Elasti-Girl from The Incredibles.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:37 PM on March 1, 2008


The Texas accent sounded like the squirrel from Spongebob. Any Texans have an opinion?

Sandy the squirrel, yeah. That's the first thing I thought of. I'm pretty sure that's where she picked up how Texans talk.
posted by puke & cry at 12:00 AM on March 2, 2008


Having lived in many of these places, I'd say that she's not that accurate -- but I found it pretty entertaining none-the-less. The point of this isn't to fool you but to educate your ear!

Oh, and that "1940s Trans-Atlantic"... I would kill to be able to talk like that. I'd do it constantly.

But wouldn't you get tired of wearing the fedora all the time?


Crap, I have a sort of mid-Atlantic accent and I wear a fedora all the time - am I so predictable?? (It's quite legit, born in London, HS and U in Canada, 25 years in NYC...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:17 AM on March 2, 2008


After some hunting, I believe my mid-Atlantic is less like K. Hepburn's and more like A. Cooke's.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:19 AM on March 2, 2008


Epic win on Sydney.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:41 AM on March 2, 2008


California girls totally say Hi.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:02 AM on March 2, 2008


"you cannot do anything approaching this, so where do you get off with your armchair vocal coaching?!"

I'm not a plumber, either, but I can tell when a pipe is leaking.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 1:08 AM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought the NZ accent was spot-on. But then, everyone here seems to think that I'm British (including the ex-pat Brits). Living with a Californian, I though the LA accent was pretty weak.
posted by Paragon at 1:09 AM on March 2, 2008


The Story of English has the history of some of these accents (and many more, besides)
posted by empath at 1:20 AM on March 2, 2008


While it's true to say that she was mimicking stereotypes as opposed to actual accents, I think there's a reason; back when I was dabbling in a little theater, I was often told that your acting must be over-the-top and exaggerated in live performances, even if it is nuanced in film/TV. If your main oeuvre is stand-up, chances are that you will specialize in stereotypes, and not in 'accurate' depictions of how people speak. In that limited sense, Whitehouse's act 'works' in that you can, plausibly, see the difference between, say, a Seattle and a Toronto accent among other things.

That said, thought her non-dialectal accents (ie, not native English) were the weakest; they seemed forced in a manner that her Australian or North-American sub-accents weren't.

Not to go all negative, but saw a much better performance sometime back on the same idea; this touring Australian improv group did this here in Singapore sometime back. They were much better, and not just because their's was improv, but also because it was easily more fluid; wasn't forced, they just did very very smoothly.
posted by the cydonian at 1:20 AM on March 2, 2008


I'm typing this in an Icelandic accent.

Hmmm, OK I guess, if your thing is watching some random 20 something speaking in a variety of accents, which frankly I thought most teens did from time to time.
posted by mattoxic at 1:23 AM on March 2, 2008


Her Dublin accent sounded reasonably good to me, though who knows if it'd hold up for longer stretches. The Belfast accent was plausible, but sounded a bit more like general Northern Irish, maybe with a touch of Derry.

The Texas accent totally made me think of Jodie Foster, but I dunno why.
posted by bokane at 1:30 AM on March 2, 2008


I never heard an American do a convincing Australian accent - until now. The first one is great, but even the broader one is passable - even though that's not typical, some Aussies do actually talk like that. Her NZ accent was wonderful as well. From her site, it seems she has lived in both Australia and NZ - which would certainly help.

The European accents sounded good enough - though I'm sure native speakers would pull her up. Strangely, though, even to my ear the American accents sounded forced. And yet, she's an American! Odd.

It's damn impressive she was able to move from one to the other almost seamlessly, though.
posted by crossoverman at 1:30 AM on March 2, 2008


The Wellington one was okay - a good demonstration of how different the kiwi accent is from the ozzie one. It was a bit refined, but then, I'm a Suthullunduh myself.
posted by arzakh at 1:39 AM on March 2, 2008


What's her name again?

NZ was okay, spot on for a bimbo but not typical. As said, kiwi speaking manner (if not accent itself) is usually quite dry and reserved, but she sounded like girls i have actually met her, so good for her. I think the thing with accents is that they have to kind of fit the stereotype rather than be spot on accurate in order to be enjoyable in themself - then we get the thrill of recognition rather than the subtle conveyance of minute differences in regional mannerisms. I guess that's what differentiates party tricks from voice acting? Good link though, cheers.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 1:48 AM on March 2, 2008


*met here. *forehead*
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 1:48 AM on March 2, 2008


Two letters,

RP

anything else must go
posted by elpapacito at 1:49 AM on March 2, 2008


Cambelltown-on-the-coast never was, nor ever shall be a part of Sydney.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:52 AM on March 2, 2008


Campbelltown, d'oh!
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:52 AM on March 2, 2008


She grew up like 30 miles outside of Seattle. I'm guessing Seattle is her native accent.

I thought this was the only one that sounded 'real' to me. I'd agree that this is probably how she sounds normally. Also, much more 'Canadian' than her abominable 'Toronto'.
I guess they were all pretty good, but none convincing. I'm glad she didn't attempt South African.
posted by Flashman at 2:16 AM on March 2, 2008


Thank god. I thought I would be the only one who thought the Toronto "accent" was crap.
posted by aclevername at 2:20 AM on March 2, 2008


So what's her real voice sound like?

A perfect combination of those 21 accents she demonstrated, plus 21 others, but those are all from another planet. The Planet Amy. And if you play the audio from her YouTube clip backwards you'll note that she is repeating, over and over again: "Soon, earthlings, there will be billions and billions of Amys arriving on your planet, and you will all be eaten or enslaved. And MetaFilter snarkers from this thread will be singled out for particularly slow and painful deaths."
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:36 AM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


yeah, to my ear some were quite good but some where way off generic cartoon accents (like the Scottish one).

She does have a scary directness to her... about the time she got to Moscow I was thinking she'd make a great Bond girl/villain
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:37 AM on March 2, 2008


She is good!
posted by hadjiboy at 2:44 AM on March 2, 2008


Toronto sounded a hell of a lot more like a stereotypical Wisconsin accent to me. In my opinion, the reason they all sounded weird was because of the exaggeration she was putting into each one. I've never met a southerner (even a belle, which is what she was going for) that sounded like that.
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 2:47 AM on March 2, 2008


NZ accent is right.
posted by dydecker at 2:49 AM on March 2, 2008


All in one take is pretty impressive. Though she didn't come close to matching the timeless achievement of Kevin Costner's Nottingham accent in Robin Hood.
posted by srboisvert at 3:26 AM on March 2, 2008


I got as far as her "Scottish" accent and it set my teeth on edge so bad my "close window" reflex kicked in and, thankfully, the bad impersonations stopped.
posted by kcds at 4:01 AM on March 2, 2008


Yes, the Scottish one was borderline actionable. The last vaguely convincing Scottish accent on screen was Mike Myers, circa So I Married an Axe Murderer. After that, it went downhill.

Amy, all your Toronto accent needed was "laarrrd tunderin' jayses" and you'd have nailed Rosedale in one.
posted by scruss at 5:15 AM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]




Wasn't as horrible as I imagined after reading the thread before watching the film, but none of the three "London" accents she did hit the spot for me. The second one was definitely not cockney. It sounded more like the mockney they speak out in Essex.

The first one sounded like someone from the posh parts of the Herts-Bucks-Oxon-Northants area. Number three sounded like Berkshire or Kent, although I suppose it could pass for someone whose mother drives a Porsche Cayenne around Chelsea.

Still, congratulations to her for at least understanding the difference between Ireland and Northan Ireland and trying to sound like someone from Norn Iron without doing a parody of the Reverend Paisley.
posted by Mr Bismarck at 6:14 AM on March 2, 2008


From the YouTube comments, it seems Amy worked in NZ therefore she knows the accent.

She's obv. never worked in Oz though ;) Sounds like Kylie Mole
posted by dydecker at 6:20 AM on March 2, 2008


The speed of switching and sheer number was definitely the most impressive aspect. However, the Brooklyn, Czech Republic and German one all seemed off to me somehow. The Czech accent was just Russia-lite, and the German and Brooklyn ones just seemed a little too base on stereotype. My guess is that most people are just reacting to the accents they are most familiar with.
posted by piratebowling at 6:21 AM on March 2, 2008


Weird how so many are critiquing her accuracy on this or that accent. You fail to appreciate that she did 21 in a row really fast, and no, you cannot do anything approaching this, so where do you get off with your armchair vocal coaching?!

Yes, everyone who tries must be given a prize! The concepts of "accuracy," "success," and other bourgeois constructs must be wiped from the earth!

As others have said, the better you know an accent, the less accurate she sounds, though apparently from the comments here her Sydney is dead on. Her foreign ones (Italian, French, etc.) are particularly unconvincing. Not that she needs to be that accurate, she's an actress and not a dialectologist, and I'm sure she does fine with this stuff onstage. An enjoyable post, thanks!
posted by languagehat at 6:31 AM on March 2, 2008


bokane: that accent totally made me think of Jodie Foster, too. Have you seen "Maverick"? It sounded just like her in that (and the side-smile smirk looked like her, too).
posted by olinerd at 6:34 AM on March 2, 2008


Some of them seem more stereotypical, like the Italian or Moscow ones. But the LA accent sounded eerily like my cousin who's lived most of her life there. And despite how off some of the accents might seem to us individually, it's easy to imagine that with a voice coach in the local dialect she could nail it.

Thanks Nicky!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:35 AM on March 2, 2008


The Northern Ireland, Italian, and German accents were all pretty bad (I'm studying abroad right now in France and have friends of all said nationalities). The Czech Republic accent was hard to distinguish from the Russian accent she did immediately after--I'm not sure if that is authentic or not. The Brooklyn accent was awful but the worst was of course the French accent. Parisians don't sound like that, at all. Pronouncing France like Frahnce does not a French accent make! (Yes, I am particularly critical because of my location).
posted by nonmerci at 6:39 AM on March 2, 2008


Thanks for your comment gorgor_balabala. I found it fun she did so many and they were all pretty good versions, if sometimes and edge of caricature, to my ear.

There is no one accent for London, Paris, Sydney, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Dublin, Belfast, Toronto. Each person brings their own sound to the way they speak, wherever they're from, but these were quite fun to hear one after the other in a kind of accent conveyor belt. I can imagine if she were in one of her many city accents she could fool most people.
posted by nickyskye at 7:17 AM on March 2, 2008


*an edge of caricature
posted by nickyskye at 7:19 AM on March 2, 2008


Whatever happened to that made up transatlantic accent? I love that.
posted by chunking express at 7:21 AM on March 2, 2008


Actually, the West Coast accent is pretty widespread, unless you're talking people from the country. There is no difference between my Portland, OR accent and a Seattle accent. Los Angeles has a slightly different lilt but is also virtually indistinguishable.

Parisians have a very specific accent, so actually yes, you can generalize in that case--the rest of the country tends to mock Parisians because of this, and the fact that they're considered pretentious assholes by 'regular folk'. This is of course talking about the CITY of Paris, not the surrounding area / banlieue.

I think it would depend on where she were, as far as her ability to fool, and the situation. Drunk people for example tend be extremely easy to trick. ;)
posted by nonmerci at 7:24 AM on March 2, 2008


And the fact she goes from one to the other without tripping up is pretty impressive, even if some of the accents don't sound 100% spot on.
posted by chunking express at 7:25 AM on March 2, 2008


There is a "correct" and "incorrect" accent? lol - what nickyskye said. C'mon, everyones got their differences. Every one one of those you could tell where she was from, that is what matters when your acting. In any case it was such a short few words in each you can't really form a strong opinion. If she was doing one of these accents on stage in a play you would not even notice. This video is from her website it's obviously meant to show she has the ability to do accents, it's basically a sales piece (notice she keeps repeating her name).
posted by stbalbach at 7:36 AM on March 2, 2008


This is as good a place as any to post Peter Sellars demonstrating various British accents.

Her Texas accent did sound kind of put-on. Thing is, there are at least three Texas accents; I'd pin the one she's trying to do as "small-town West Texas," sort of lopey and vowel-swallowing. But Tommy Lee Jones and Ross Perot both have Texas accents that are completely different, more clipped sounding. Her Brooklyn accent sounded miserable.
posted by adamrice at 7:41 AM on March 2, 2008


The Northern Irish one is pretty bad. It was definitely not a Belfast accent.
posted by knapah at 7:47 AM on March 2, 2008


Two accents really made me cringe: the Brooklyn one, which sounded like a cross of NYC, New Jersey and some undiscovered land in Connecticut, and the Toronto one, which made my head hurt trying to figure out where, even in Ontario, that would be from.

The Seattle one was relatively accurate, but as her "home" accent as pointed out above, she had probably been trained out of actually sounding like a Seattleite.

I'm surprised she didn't do Boston since we do have a "distinct" accent up here which has been butchered in movies since the beginning of time.
posted by Gular at 8:10 AM on March 2, 2008


Yes, stbalbach, there are accent attempts that fail very, very hard because they sound like poor impressions of what someone thinks someone might sound like.

Some of her accents were good, and I'm sure if she had a vocal couch or really threw herself into learning one of them she'd be spot-on, but until then there are a lot of gaps...some more embarrassing than others.
posted by nonmerci at 8:11 AM on March 2, 2008


I'm a Southron gentleman, and I ain't never heard nobody who talked like her idea of a Charleston accent. I think she's been watchin' too many Civil War movies.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:16 AM on March 2, 2008


"lick my balls, we don't sound like that in toronto"

The immediate decent into the venal voice is the "YouTube accent".
posted by Tube at 8:22 AM on March 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


Interesting, as she didn't even try an Cockney accent. She did a South London one, and it wasn't horrific (the second London one). If it was supposed to be Cockney, she needs shooting.

Yes, my British husband has corrected me on this. I think I was actually reacting to the "weren't I?" thrown in, and it reminded me of Audrey Heburn, but I didn't want to say that her accent was as bad as that. He says it's fairly good, so I retract my original statement on the second London. In fact, he's totally impressed with her European accents - they are better than most North Americans would be able to do.

We also (as we're both also Torontonians) have a theory on the Toronto accent - perhaps she's based it off a Newfie who lived in (Scotland? Ireland?) for ten years and then moved to Toronto? More seriously thinking about, I think it's that she has too much lilt, and that's what makes it sound strange. We do have stronger r's than a Seattle accent, but we're also a fair bit flatter and even nasal than she's doing. Bob and Doug Mackenzie had the best fake/parody Canadian accent I've ever heard (it really is what we sound like, just exaggerated). The accent she gives us is prettier and more unusual (compared to educated North American) than ours, but it's like nothing I've heard in or near Toronto/Ontario, nor is it quite Newfie or Nova Scotian.

But good on her for trying Toronto - it's nice for people to notice we're up here.

Kevin Costner's Nottingham accent in Robin Hood.

Actually, I thought that was a really good artistic choice, as contemporary English accents have no resemblence to Middle English -- a German or Dutch accent would maybe be closer. If he'd tried anything and it had been badly done, that would have been much worse than not trying anything at all.

She didn't attempt the Kansas accent (which is no accent at all - we're known for our bland "everyman/woman" voices that newscasters try to emulate).

Actually, you do have an accent, which I hear strongly in many American Newscasters. It's the Mid-Western brass/twang to my ears.

For everyone their own accent is no accent at all, though the more you move, the less this is true. I never heard Canadian accents (and would have sworn we had none) before living elsewhere - now I hear how strong our r's are, how we seem to float a little between the US and the UK (most like the Americans, but still a bit more Brit, or perhaps specifically Scot). When my husband was little, he just knew that the base no-accent was Mancunian, which he doesn't even speak anymore (he's gone all RP since leaving as a kid).
posted by jb at 8:38 AM on March 2, 2008


LOLACCENZ. Oh man that Toronto accent was horrific. Fargo, North Dakota, maybe?
Amy, all your Toronto accent needed was "laarrrd tunderin' jayses" and you'd have nailed Rosedale in one.
Oh yeah, Rosedale definitely has a sing-songy Irish lilt. That's from all the private school moms having been raised listening to Clyde Gilmour's Irish songs on CBC radio.
posted by A-Train at 8:38 AM on March 2, 2008


London accents
posted by jb at 8:42 AM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


The German and Czech accents were terrible but I guess her Seattle one was all right.
posted by cmonkey at 8:45 AM on March 2, 2008


I enjoyed the rapid-fire, unabashed approach, rapidly moving through 21 accents, some certainly better than others; you can scrutinize any particular accent but as others have already explained, you'd be missing the point in one way or another.

For some reason, I really enjoyed the YouTube comments (starting from the oldest - view all): for YouTube comments, I found them surprisingly positive and earnest, and was rather charmed by how Amy handled the "you're hot!" comments, which in large part were politely stated...the soft bigotry of low expectations and all that.
posted by lordaych at 9:22 AM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought the LA one was pretty accurate, except the "five" sounded funny. Others I can't say, since that is the one I know best.
posted by dame at 9:31 AM on March 2, 2008


"Hello. My name is Amy Walker. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
posted by kirkaracha at 9:31 AM on March 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


Wow, another opportunity for Torontonians to obsess about themselves!

A-Train, what would have been nice was for anybody to notice that there are Canadian who AREN'T in Toronto, and whose accents are a hell of a lot more interesting.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:38 AM on March 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


says it's fairly good, so I retract my original statement on the second London.

Yeah, I think it's pretty good. I wouldn't expect to meet anyone that sounded like that, but as an average of working-class Londoners, it's spot on. Similarly, the other two London ones are very good versions of stereotypes.
posted by cillit bang at 9:57 AM on March 2, 2008


Anyone wanting to master an authentic Toronto need look no farther than Peter Mansbridge. It's not quite as old-school as the Lloyd Robertson, and not quite as drunken as the MacKenzie Bros (which is, I assure you, quite authentic, but normally relegated to the townships of cottage country). Want something thicker? A little Winnipeggy, perhaps? See Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from the original Degrassi series.

I was amazed by Naomi Watts' Ontario accent in Mulholland Drive, though I suspect it was merely an attempt at Midwest-neural, tainted with Kiwi, and saved by a quick script edit.

The biggest, shiniest trophy for worst crimes against humanity in this area has got to go to Lasse Hallström, as every single movie he's ever directed contains at least one really egregiously hackneyed accent or dialect. See The Shipping News, Chocolat, etc, etc, etc. Even My Life as a Dog -- the "masterpiece" he's been riding for the last quarter-century -- has a pair of brothers speaking two completely different regional dialects of Hallström's own mother tongue!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:01 AM on March 2, 2008


If we're going to mention stunning accents in films (someone mentioned Costner in Robin Hood), it is only fir to mention Sean Connery's superb Egyptian/Spanish accent in Highlander.

I'm not even going to touch Lamberts's...

On that basis, any of this girl's accents will pass for any of the locations she lists.
posted by Brockles at 10:21 AM on March 2, 2008


Geez, I suddenly had a brilliant idea. We really really really need to perfect time travel so this girl could date this guy!!!

Yeah, I'm a romantic, but they would've made a beautiful couple. She could've totally taught him how to do accents. And act. With her sweet love he would've never had to be skeeeered again. Alas.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:26 AM on March 2, 2008


The begining of her french was ok until she hit the "25 ans" part when she fumbled back to american speaking french.
posted by SageLeVoid at 10:37 AM on March 2, 2008


Oh, and one thing about bad accents in movies: Sometimes it's the writer's fault. See, for example, Four Weddings and a Funeral, in which Andie MacDowell, a Southerner, is barely believable as an American. For some bizarre reason she's constantly uttering Britishisms like whilst (or words of equal Anglocity).
posted by Sys Rq at 10:39 AM on March 2, 2008


She impressed me. Its a shame she didn't attempt any of the great north England accents. The quirky Geordie accent, or the sublime Yorkshire accent for example.

I have no ability to do accents whatsoever. I would love to be able to though, have often considered posting a question to ask on the subject. There must be a systematic approach to learning how to do a range of accents out there (for free) somewhere.
posted by verisimilitude at 10:46 AM on March 2, 2008


I know it's old and tired as a meme-thingy, but it really needs to be done:

Andie MacDowell, a Southerner, is barely believable as an American actress.

Fixed appropriately.
posted by Brockles at 10:47 AM on March 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


I just love accents. Overall, she was pretty damn good.
posted by grubi at 10:57 AM on March 2, 2008


Again, I think people are missing the point of a lot of these accents; she's an actress and these are stage accents. Stage accents aren't, necessarily, about getting the accent exactly correct. Is the Charleston or Paris accent what someone from those places will sound like? Not exactly, but a general audience will hear the accent and buy it as coming from those places.

I think that's why the Toronto accent is the only actual failure. I think most people would hear that and think the speaker was from rural Wisconsin or North Dakota or something.
posted by Justinian at 12:13 PM on March 2, 2008


God, the Toronto accent almost made me shake with rage. Who is spreading this impression of what people in Toronto sound like? I've never heard an accent remotely like that between Kenora and Halifax. Have any of these people even -been- to Toronto? We sound like California. Like, completely. I think it must be the fact that we're both smoking weed from BC.
posted by tehloki at 12:20 PM on March 2, 2008


Heh. Shake with rage.
posted by smackfu at 12:39 PM on March 2, 2008


(re: Toronto) We sound like California. Like, completely.

From this I conclude you have either never been to California or you've never been to Toronto.

Torontonians do not sound like they're from California. Oh, sure, they can speak whole sentences or even paragraphs where you don't see the difference but then they'll say something that doesn't sound remotely American.

Just a few of the many words that would differentiate a Torontonian and an Angeleno;

out
about
schedule
pasta
sorry
z

Have a native Torontonian say "I was out and about all day trying to meet my schedule from a to z. I was so busy I forgot the pasta. Sorry." There is no way you'd mistake them for someone from California.

Like I said before, people from Toronto don't (mostly) sound like Bob and Doug Mackenzie. But they don't sound like they're from California either.
posted by Justinian at 12:58 PM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think it must be the fact that we're both smoking weed from BC.

For 2000 years?

You all must be baked.
posted by Brockles at 1:17 PM on March 2, 2008



Toronto sounded a hell of a lot more like a stereotypical Wisconsin accent to me.


Maybe if you are talking Wisconsin along the border with MN or the UP. Otherwise...not so much.
posted by kayjay at 1:38 PM on March 2, 2008


Yeah, a lot of folks have been saying Wisconsin or North Dakota when they clearly mean Minnesota. Yes, Coen fans, Fargo is in North Dakota, but only just.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:45 PM on March 2, 2008


We sound like California. Like, completely.

I grew up in Ontario, and if I hadn't moved away and lived elsewhere for a considerable amount of time, I would have sworn by that statement. But it is "completely" untrue.

Justinian's pasta is a great example. Ontario just doesn't do those "ah" sounds very well.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:51 PM on March 2, 2008


I really enjoyed this, regardless of her inaccuracies.

See, for example, Four Weddings and a Funeral, in which Andie MacDowell, a Southerner, is barely believable as an American.

I'm fairly convinced that Andie McDowell has the goods on some top Hollywood execs because her acting is...not. And her accent was so bad in Greystoke that they had to dub her voice.

The Brooklyn accent was abominable, but true Brooklyn accents barely exist anymore (though Amy could go to my aunt's house for Sunday dinner if she wanted a primer). I thought she sounded a lot like Adrianna from The Sopranos.

The Katharine Hepburn accent is also known as the Locust Valley Lockjaw (related: Boston Brahmin) accent.
posted by cowboy_sally at 2:24 PM on March 2, 2008


Yeah, Toronto peeps say the a in pasta the same as the a in past. Californians say the a in pasta like the a in father. Very different.
posted by Justinian at 2:25 PM on March 2, 2008


I thought it was more like the 'a' in potato or tomato.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:30 PM on March 2, 2008


It is, if you're pronouncing those wrong.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:32 PM on March 2, 2008


A-Train, what would have been nice was for anybody to notice that there are Canadian who AREN'T in Toronto, and whose accents are a hell of a lot more interesting.

Don't be silly - Toronto is all that there is to Canada. It's well known that everything outside of the 905 is just a CBC conspiracy to pretend that there are bits of Canada that still have rocks and trees and water.

But seriously, linguists these days generally talk about a Canadian urban dialect/accent which is shared across Anglophone Canada from Halifax to Toronto to Vancouver and becoming the dominant accent.

It is noticably different from American accents, as I've realised living in the US around people from all over the US. There are some American accents which are very similar, including the more national broadcast news (as opposed to the more Mid-West flavoured local news), but Californian is not one of them.
posted by jb at 2:39 PM on March 2, 2008


Ubu: Oh, Australian, are we? Pahst and foh-thah, eh? In that case, reverse 'em.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:44 PM on March 2, 2008


nickyskye:
There is no one accent for London, Paris, Sydney, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Dublin, Belfast, Toronto.
I'll give you that but when you have people with some experience hearing the accent saying that does not even pass the reduced standard of the "it's just a stage-acting accent" test, then you wonder why you'd say it's an accent representative of that city.

ethnomethodologist:
Wow, another opportunity for Torontonians to obsess about themselves!

A-Train, what would have been nice was for anybody to notice that there are Canadian[s] who AREN'T in Toronto, and whose accents are a hell of a lot more interesting.
Huh? The alleged Toronto accent is a standout failure. If she'd represented that as a Dublin accent, we'd be hearing now about how Dubliners are all self-obsessed.

I can't speak to whether it might conceivably be representative of some other Canadian regional accent. Not my area of expertise. However, I am with the people who say a Toronto accent sounds more like her Seattle accent (jb, bobo123) and the Toronto accent presented sounds more like Wisconsin/North Dakota/Minnesota (Cyclopsis Raptor, Justinian, hjo).

And I haven't lived in Toronto in ten years. Not sure I call myself a Torontonian anymore.
posted by A-Train at 3:09 PM on March 2, 2008


po-tay-to, po-tah-to
to-may-to, to-mah-to
let's call the whole thing off
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:10 PM on March 2, 2008


Ubu: Oh, Australian, are we? Pahst

No, not pahst. 'Pasta' is a standard part of Strine, as in the following sentence:

"Me girlfriend invited be to the movies the other arvo, but I pasta up, becoz the footy was on the telly"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:29 PM on March 2, 2008


Personally the Russian accent was meh. More like how you'd think Russians sound, but not really. Same as Toronto (which was well covered). Of course I'm a Russian living in Toronto, so that meshes well with the "your own accent is not spot on" thing we got here.
posted by olya at 3:40 PM on March 2, 2008


ubu -- Damn, you're right. It's Pehst, isn't it?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:52 PM on March 2, 2008


"Amy Walker, that's your name? What's your real name?"

"That is my real name."

"Nah! What was it before you changed it?!"
posted by bwg at 3:59 PM on March 2, 2008


Again, I think people are missing the point of a lot of these accents; she's an actress and these are stage accents. Stage accents aren't, necessarily, about getting the accent exactly correct.

Tell that to the critic who wrote a review of my show last Thursday night. Seriously, tell him. Maybe he'll print a retraction.
posted by Evangeline at 5:15 PM on March 2, 2008


I can see the argument that accents on stage have served their purpose if they have conveyed to the majority where the character is intended to be from - particularly if that is pertinent to the story.

I don't, however, think it should be an excuse for shitty accents. If you call yourself an actor, you should at least either learn the bloody thing properly, don't attempt it at all, or don't accept roles that demand them.

So in summary, I think the 'serves a purpose' argument is not valid. It's a get out.
posted by Brockles at 5:25 PM on March 2, 2008


I think she got Toronto confused with Sudbury.
posted by cogneuro at 5:27 PM on March 2, 2008


If you call yourself an actor, you should at least either learn the bloody thing properly, don't attempt it at all, or don't accept roles that demand them.

Absolutely. Unfortunately the reality is that many actors THINK they can manage an accent, take the part, and then discover they don't have a talent for it, in spite of a lot of hard work. It's then up to the director to make a decision.

I really can't make a good judgment about The Amazing Miss Amy Walker. I'm pretty good at dialects, but I haven't done a broad range of them, and I haven't traveled much.

But I don't think that being adept at accents makes you a good actor. It makes you a good mimic - not the same thing.
posted by Evangeline at 5:50 PM on March 2, 2008


But I don't think that being adept at accents makes you a good actor. It makes you a good mimic - not the same thing.

Being adept at accents is one of the fundamental talents that an actor should aspire to.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:07 PM on March 2, 2008


But seriously, linguists these days generally talk about a Canadian urban dialect/accent which is shared across Anglophone Canada from Halifax to Toronto to Vancouver and becoming the dominant accent.

I am glad you mentioned this... because I believed it to be true. Do you have a source?
posted by Deep Dish at 9:19 PM on March 2, 2008


That was fun!
Did anyone else say them along with her?
posted by From Bklyn at 2:18 AM on March 3, 2008


'Seattle or California sound a lot more like Toronto, all she had to do was pronounce "sorry" like "sore-y" instead of the American "sari".'

The weird thing is that over the last decade or so I am hearing that pronunciation more and more in the Seattle area. From locals. Actually, it's sort of halfway between the old American way and the full-fledged Canadian version. So it's not quite the shibboleth it used to be. "Pasta" is a better one. or "Mazda." :)

'Actually, the West Coast accent is pretty widespread, unless you're talking people from the country. There is no difference between my Portland, OR accent and a Seattle accent. Los Angeles has a slightly different lilt but is also virtually indistinguishable.'

There are some differences. Note the items here that say things like "found in Portland, and some areas of Southern Oregon, but is generally not found further north." Portlanders sound slightly more Californian to me than Seattleites do.

In the video, I thought her Seattle speech sounded odd, actually. Which is especially strange if she is from the area. It sounded extra soft, without the "creaky voice" mentioned here, and her strong enunciation of "twen-tee five" sounded unusually stilted; the folks I know tend to say something closer to "twunee five". In the other video someone linked to, where she talked normally for a moment before switching to Mid-Atlantic, she did have the creaky voice, I think. So this "Seattle accent" may not be quite the same her natural one. It might have been affected somewhat by the quick changes, or by trying to differentiate it more obviously from the creaky California accent, or just by being more "stagey".
posted by litlnemo at 4:42 AM on March 3, 2008


Being adept at accents is one of the fundamental talents that an actor should aspire to.
I certainly wasn't saying anything to the contrary. Maybe you misunderstood me. I said that being good at accents doesn't make you a good actor.
posted by Evangeline at 7:06 AM on March 3, 2008


she's an actress and these are stage accents. Stage accents aren't, necessarily, about getting the accent exactly correct.

As a theatre director, I SORT of agree with that, but if an actor were to take your bare statement to heart, he could use it as an excuse for lazy work.

To me, accents (in the theatre) have these specific roles to play:

1. To give the story/character a sense of place/origin/class. Duh.

The key is to create a consistent world. If all the characters in the play are supposed to be from the same town in Scotland, they all need to sound the same. It would be great if they all sounded authentic. But barring that, they should at least all sound inauthentic in the same way.

2. To not distract.

It's possible for an accent to be distracting by being too spot on. This might be the case, say, if an American audience has to parse a 100% accurate Northern-british accent. They may not be able to understand what the character is saying.

However, if an accent needs to be toned down, this should be done with great care. Actors need to pick the specific words they pull back on. And they need to pick the specific sounds they subdue. It can't just be a general (sloppy) "do it lite" approach. That will lead to inconsistencies.

It's MORE likely that an accent will be distracting because it's incorrect. If you're from England, and you hear Dick Van Dyke in "Mary Poppins," it's hard to enjoy the movie (except as a bad movie), because his shoddy work is distracting. You're constantly aware of the (bad) artifice and you can't fall into the world of the movie and believe in it.

If you're doing theatre in a cosmopolitan area, there are bound to be people in the audience from the represented countries/regions. They'll be distracted.

In my experience, it's very hard to get an actor to improve his dialect work. There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, it's hard work. Most people can't just do it by listening to a few native speakers on TV. They have to study the vowel and consonant shifts and drill. Drill, drill, drill. Most actors (like most people) hate drilling. They already have to drill to learn their lines (most don't work hard enough at that, either), but with lines, it's pretty obvious when you don't know them. Many actors can (and have) gotten away with half-assed accents.

The other reason is that many of us start mimicking accents when we're kids. We (Americans) do Monty Python sketches to amuse our friends. Our friends are amused. They never tell us that we suck at cockney, because they can't tell bad from good (and they don't care all that much). Over the years, we convince ourselves that we're good at accents.

When I meet an actor who tells me how good he is at accents, red lights start going off. I think, "Uh, oh! Here's an actor who thinks he's perfect and isn't going to work at it."

My company is currently running a show with many accents: Standard British, cockney, Devonshire, Irish, French, and Scottish. Our actors worked with a dialect coach (from London), but still -- as Evangeline mentioned -- a reviewer claimed "the accents were all over the place." Maybe he just didn't understand that the characters are SUPPOSED to be from all over the place. Accents are hard!
posted by grumblebee at 7:19 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's hard for me to believe that anyone would interpret my last sentence to mean "Good actors don't care about dialects", but just to be sure, let me clarify: "Being good at accents doesn't in and of itself make you a good actor". Watch a few episodes of any sketch comedy show for examples.
posted by Evangeline at 7:19 AM on March 3, 2008


When I said "we sound like California", I meant "what I gather California sounds like from the video", because, as justinian accurately surmised, I have never been to California. I've lived in Toronto all my life, and that accent (apparently not accurate) sounds exactly like any local person I might meet on the street.
posted by tehloki at 2:12 PM on March 3, 2008


We should do a mefite accent project. I volunteer to be the Cali girl. I can crank it up to 11.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:16 PM on March 3, 2008


I am glad you mentioned this... because I believed it to be true. Do you have a source?
posted by Deep Dish at 12:19 AM on March 3 [+] [!]


I don't remember the exact source (this is from a class paper written 7+ years ago), but I read some stuff by Jack Chambers, and some general books on English dialects and Canadian English.
posted by jb at 2:37 PM on March 3, 2008


Tehloki: Her California accent is more or less accurate (if a bit forced) but, and this is key, it's too short for the differences with a Torontonian to be evident. It includes the wrong phonemes. A lot of what a person from Toronto or a person from California says will sound exactly alike... and a lot will sound very different. It's not like the difference between a Russian accent and an English one where virtually every syllable sounds different.
posted by Justinian at 4:01 PM on March 3, 2008


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