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Harmless Drudge: How to (Not) Speak With a British Accent
Posted: 19 July 2011 01:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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On Mad Max etc, when Gibson was in his early twenties, in interview he had a “mixed” accent: pretty Aussie but sometimes the vowels were a bit wonky. In film or on TV in those days, though, his Australian accent was basically flawless but for all I know he was being heavily coached.

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Posted: 19 July 2011 06:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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Speaking of all this ... I am now watching James Murdoch being grilled. What a weird accent he has, it’s all over the shop.

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Posted: 19 July 2011 07:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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OP Tipping - 19 July 2011 06:22 AM

Speaking of all this ... I am now watching James Murdoch being grilled. What a weird accent he has, it’s all over the shop.

He also seems to be using the occasional Americanism, such as “gotten” - I see that while he appears to have grown up in Oz and/or Britain, he went to school and then university in the US.

ElizaD - 19 July 2011 12:19 AM

I don’t think I do consciously or otherwise, change my accent or phraseology when I’m abroad, unless I need to speak more slowly to a foreigner or someone who has difficulty in understanding what I’m saying (I do a lot of that, even in the UK).  Foreign call centres used by many big UK businesses would do well to practise speaking slowly.  Grrrrrrr.....

You’ll be pleased at this news, then, Eliza - Bank repatriates its call centres from India back to UK:

Clashing accents appear to be part of the problem. In January, British Telecom apologised to one of its customers after a row about accents. The woman initially complained that she was unable to understand call-centre workers in India. The company then sent her a letter saying the call-centre workers had a problem understanding her accent. The apology followed.

A representative from [the bank] Santander also told British media about customers who had complained about Indian call-centre workers not understanding them. “A volume of the complaints said they would prefer to deal with call centres in the UK, where staff could understand them better as individuals and know where they are coming from”, a Santander representative told The Telegraph.

[ Edited: 19 July 2011 07:38 AM by zythophile ]
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Posted: 19 July 2011 08:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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When I was in graduate school, my best friend, a physics student, told me about two physics grad students, one from Texas and the other from India, whose accents were mutually unintelligible.  Anybody else in the department could understand either of them, but when they talked to each other they needed an English-to-English interpreter.

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Posted: 19 July 2011 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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You’ll be pleased at this news, then, Eliza - Bank repatriates its call centres from India back to UK

Very! I find it’s both the accent and the speed at which many operators talk.

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Posted: 27 January 2012 10:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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I just saw Inglourious Basterds. I thought Myers’s accent was _pretty_ good, but went up and down the social scale a bit. For instance, take his pronunciation of /aʊ/: in some instances, it is more or less straight RP/BBC English, but at least once it is a more aristocratic [æy].

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Posted: 09 January 2017 03:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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Bette Davis does well in Elizabeth and Essex.

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Posted: 09 January 2017 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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ElizaD - 19 July 2011 10:35 AM

You’ll be pleased at this news, then, Eliza - Bank repatriates its call centres from India back to UK

Very! I find it’s both the accent and the speed at which many operators talk.

Indeed. I sometimes have to ask them to repeat themselves some 4 or 5 times and I’m still all at sea as to what they’re saying. It’s embarrassing for both parties and I’m pleased that at least some of the institutions are reverting to UK call centres. (Although I’m sure not all will, cost being the bottom line here not customer satisfaction.)

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Posted: 09 January 2017 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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When a student at Liverpool University, I had a friend, Steve, who hailed from Tyneside. We were well into our second year before I began to have more than a faint idea of what he was saying. I have never encountered a British local accent that sounded less like English. I have been told that “Geordie” has more in common with Old English than any other local British dialect.

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Posted: 09 January 2017 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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I have been told that “Geordie” has more in common with Old English than any other local British dialect.

Mmm: I’d need to hear that direct from an Old English specialist to believe that. From what I know of (a) local dialects and (b) Old English, which I don’t claim is all that much, I can’t see any grounds for saying that Geordie has more in common with OE than, say, Cumbrian or Scots. And I strongly suspect that ‘our [insert name of speaker’s region here] dialect is closer to Old English than any other local British dialect’ is something you’ll be told in several places around the country.

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Posted: 09 January 2017 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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It’s a bogus claim. There are undoubtedly some elements of the Geordie dialect that are similar to Old English, but the same can be said of any dialect of English.

We have similar claims in the States, notably the idea that English spoken in Appalachia is “closest” to Elizabethan English.

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Posted: 09 January 2017 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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Thanks for the elucidation.

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Posted: 12 January 2017 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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Ah, yes, Hugh Laurie. Have loved him since Blackadder…

Michelle Dockery is doing a pretty good American accent on her new show Good Behavior. In the episode I saw, she did a passable southern US accent too. (For those who don’t watch tv, she was Lady Mary on Downton Abbey.) And Tracey Ullmann has been sending up Yank accents for decades now.

Going the other direction: Meryl Streep. 

One word that can be a dead giveaway:  fourteen. Most Brits I’ve heard on tv pronounce it with a silent R and moderately crisp T. Down Under, the T sounds more like a D. (At least, in Broad Australian. I have trouble distinguishing Cultured Australian from middle-class or posh British.) And in America, most of us use a hard R and hit the T on both syllables. Or maybe that’s a glottal stop on the end of four. It almost sounds like two separate words to my ear.

That kind of detail is the bailiwick of the dialect coach, who IMO should get a lot more credit for an actor’s outstanding performance when accents are involved. Who taught Streep to speak German with a Polish accent in Sophie’s Choice?

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Posted: 13 January 2017 03:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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unwed widow - 12 January 2017 03:10 PM

And Tracey Ullmann has been sending up Yank accents for decades now.

Tracey Ullmann has said that she doesn’t do accents.  She does characters and the characters have accents.  I have always been amazed by her portrayals.

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Posted: 13 January 2017 04:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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unwed widow - 12 January 2017 03:10 PM


Going the other direction: Meryl Streep. 

One word that can be a dead giveaway:  fourteen. Most Brits I’ve heard on tv pronounce it with a silent R and moderately crisp T. Down Under, the T sounds more like a D. (At least, in Broad Australian. I have trouble distinguishing Cultured Australian from middle-class or posh British.) And in America, most of us use a hard R and hit the T on both syllables. Or maybe that’s a glottal stop on the end of four. It almost sounds like two separate words to my ear.

Mmm. Probably more an unaspirated /t/ rather than a /d/.

Note that the woman Meryl Streep played in Evil Angels was from New Zealand, but I can’t say how much that influenced Streep’s choices.

That kind of detail is the bailiwick of the dialect coach, who IMO should get a lot more credit for an actor’s outstanding performance when accents are involved. Who taught Streep to speak German with a Polish accent in Sophie’s Choice?

Second time today I’ve seen the word bailiwick, and probably the first time in years. (Saw an ad for Sapphire Jubilee coins from the Bailiwick of Guernsey).

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