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SquibblyDibbly

American Accents

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Mr_Lin

 

We don't call them 'posh'.

 

'Preppie', perhaps. Or 'Stuck up', but not 'posh'.....;-)

 

Well, you know what they say, divided by a common language and all that.

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ProfSpender

I once browed a scholarly work that claimed that while the North-Eastern dialect of American English (basically New England and New York) was a prestigious dialect in the 19th century - you know, Harvard, Emerson and such -, it lost prestige in the early 20th century, being replaced by the Midwestern dialect as "standard American English". The book theorized that this was caused by the usage of the Northeastern dialect in New York City, at the time flet to be overrun by immigrants and other weirdos, as opposed to the use of the Midwestern dialect in the "pure Heart of America". So according to that theory the rise of Midwestern American English and the decline of the New England variety were basically racistically motivated.

 

If it's true, then that might for interesting interaction in the 1920s games - set in the time of the change.

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phobia
On the other hand, at the same con Paula and I played a game of Gaslight Cthulhu in which we were commended on our accents. Another player tried to do posh but was so appalling that I couldn't understand a word he was saying.

 

Yes, when we played Juxtaposition with you at Origins a few years back, we thought it amazing the quality of your accents. Very authentic. You must practice frequently. :P

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SquibblyDibbly

One thing that jumps right out as a glaring omission is the simple fact that Americans of the 1920s (New Englanders), at least those in old films, often spoke with an accent that's hasn't been heard since. In fact, to the "common" American ear, those old accents sound vaguely British, like a hybrid UK/US accent. I've always found that to be incredibly fascinating, and often wondered how it came to be, and what caused it to vanish. So, I suppose what I'm trying to say is simply that, if you're in the UK, and trying to affect coontemporary US accents for your period game, you've already gone off-track.

 

I've noticed this in some old movies, instead of talking in the usual "Colonial dialect" :wink: the American actors speak in very clipped tones. I'm not sure whether this might be specifically an East Coast thing though, with the upper classes of New York trying to sound more British. In effect though it just sounds kind of weird.

 

One example might be the accents used in the more recent Coen brothers movie "The Hudsucker Proxy", set in the 1950's. They are completely bizarre, but used to great comic effect. Paul Newman as Sidney J Mussburger "Yeah, yeah, sure, sure" and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Amy Archer "I used to think you were a swell guy. Well, to be honest, I thought you were an imbecile. But then I figured out you WERE a swell guy... A little slow, maybe, but a swell guy. Well, maybe you're not so slow, But you're not so swell either. And it looks like you're an imbecile after all!"

 

Now if only I could replicate those accents !

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MikeC

In the vein of the premise that, here in the US regional accents are

increasingly flattening out due to the pervasiveness of centralized

control of media (IE, the networks want 'neutral' accents on their

presenters), is there a similar flattening happening in England?

I suspect not, especially since the Brits have had centralized

broadcast media (in the form of the BBC) for about as long as

they've had broadcast media, yet it seems that regional accents

are as strong as ever out in 'Blightey.

 

MikeC

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stepheno
In the vein of the premise that, here in the US regional accents are

increasingly flattening out due to the pervasiveness of centralized

control of media (IE, the networks want 'neutral' accents on their

presenters), is there a similar flattening happening in England?

I suspect not, especially since the Brits have had centralized

broadcast media (in the form of the BBC) for about as long as

they've had broadcast media, yet it seems that regional accents

are as strong as ever out in 'Blightey.

 

No, we get lots of reports over here that the British regional accents are becoming "estuarised".

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lordof1

Britain's a funny old place, accent wise - the accents vary massively between relatively close regions - Livepudlian (Liverpool) sounds enormously difficult to Mancunian (Manchester - where I'm from! Hurray!), when in reality, theres only about thirty-five or forty miles seperating them. Go a little further North East, and you have the Yorkshire dialect (almost incomprehensible to anyone not from there fifty years ago, but a little more smooth now), and then a little further east to get to Newcastle, to get the Geordies - who sound like a cross between Scottish and...well, something else...

 

A massive range of accents in a fairly narrow strip of land (what is it, about 200 miles across? My geography isn't too great, sorry, and I'm too lazy to get up and get a map. Or even do some minimal research on the net, which I could have done by the time I've written this. Ah, the apathy of the digital generation. Makes you fear for our future).

 

So, I wouldn't particularily say accents are flattening out in the UK - changing a little, sure, but as you say, Mike, strong as ever, IMHO.

 

(Edit - ok, I've been and looked at a map now. <Hangs head in shame> I'm sorry, everyone. I was going to edit it all to something which actually resemble the topography of the planet everyone else lives on, but I can't bring myself to do it. Please feel free to point at me and laugh. We all roll 100 on our know roll sometimes, right? Anyway, I did learn something at Uni - who else knows where to find the Rosette of Furstenberg? (I'll give you a clue - it's somewhere inside a cow))

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ninthcouncil
In the vein of the premise that, here in the US regional accents are

increasingly flattening out due to the pervasiveness of centralized

control of media (IE, the networks want 'neutral' accents on their

presenters), is there a similar flattening happening in England?

I suspect not, especially since the Brits have had centralized

broadcast media (in the form of the BBC) for about as long as

they've had broadcast media, yet it seems that regional accents

are as strong as ever out in 'Blightey.

 

MikeC

The BBC has become much less exacting in its requirements for accents, even within the news department. You can hear regional accents that would never have been allowed on the air a couple of decades ago. Huw Edwards, for instance, is clearly *Welsh* 8O :lol:. So there are counterbalancing trends to simple homogenisation by TV.

 

The "estuarial creep" is most noticeable in the south, where it has, I suspect, been supplanting other local accents, such as Kentish, as well as contaminating Received Pronunciation. It'll be a long time before it makes serious inroads up north, though, and even as far south as Cambridgeshire, my younger relatives still still have readily identifiable accents - though perhaps not as strong as some of their parents (one of my uncles, who was a farm worker all his life, has a very ripe accent).

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Gentleman-Ranker

I agree with ninthcouncil and Lordof1. In addition accents may be flattened out and homogenised by television but apparently dialects are dying. Whereas in the 20's a visitor from down south would have been virtually incapable of penetrating the dialect of a Lancashire (Lanky-shuh) lad or lass from my neck of the woods. Nowadays all young people seem to speak with a nasal whine and an upturn to the end of their sentences which seems to make them sound like they're always asking a question. Apparently (though I can't vouch for this allegation) this is due to the vast quantity of Australian soaps on TV!

Cities seem to have their own accents as well. Scouse and Mank are both identifiably different to the Lancashire that surrounds them. The scouse accent has been "blamed" on Irish/Welsh influences and it's nature as a port city. I don't know what Manchester's excuse is :lol: .

I'm from the west coast of Lancashire, with my accent slightly modified by a few years at University on the East Coast of Britain associating with all sorts :wink: . I can tell the difference between the local city accents, standard Lancashire, the broader East Lancs tones and the more countryfied Cumbrian voices from the South Lakes. Friends of mine from down south can't tell if someone is Lancashire or Yorkshire. It's all Up North to them! I think it's like this with a lot of accents. It all depends on from how far away you're looking.

 

As far as Role playing is concerned I think something fairly generic is usually fine. I was the only player in my group who ever bothered with an accent. Even then, if all the PCs were from the same region, I wouldn't bother. IMHO it's a storytelling/communication tool like any other. If it's serving a purpose e.g. differentiating a PC or NPC by geographic origin then it's worthwhile.

 

By the way, most of my accents are lousy! :lol: :oops: :lol:

 

All just IMHO (and apologies if I offend anyone)

 

GR

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HJ

There's not just the creep of Esturine English, the other urban accents are spreading out from their cities. So for example mancunian is becoming more widespread outside the city, especially among the younger generation.

 

There was a very good BBC programme on this - How The Edwardians Spoke - I think. Apparently some German linguists in WW1 recorded the various dialects of the PoWs in their control - they made them recite the Good Sammaritan and any other local songs or sayings.

 

The presenter found some descendants of the PoWs and replayed the recordings. In all cases the accent was much broader than it is now. Although they very well might have been making it heavier for the benefit of the audience.

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MikeC
There's not just the creep of Esturine English, the other urban accents are spreading out from their cities. So for example mancunian is becoming more widespread outside the city, especially among the younger generation.

 

I blame Jamie Oliver.

 

But that's my answer to most things.

 

MikeC

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Mr_Lin

I blame Jamie Oliver.

 

But that's my answer to most things.

 

I've noticed quite a few young people talking like Ali G in various places, including, most hilariously, in Malvern. I don't know to what extent it's affected, or not.

 

I blame Tim Westwood.

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Necrothesp

For the record, many of us "Brits" (possibly still a majority) do still consider a billion to be a million million and use "thousand million" for what the Americans call a billion. Very few people these days would use milliard though (I've never heard anyone use it in my entire life). Personally, I've never understood why we should adopt a system that only a handful of countries use (to most countries in the world a billion is still a million million). I would never, ever use the American usage, since to me it's just plain wrong.

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MikeC
For the record, many of us "Brits" (possibly still a majority) do still consider a billion to be a million million and use "thousand million" for what the Americans call a billion. Very few people these days would use milliard though (I've never heard anyone use it in my entire life). Personally, I've never understood why we should adopt a system that only a handful of countries use (to most countries in the world a billion is still a million million). I would never, ever use the American usage, since to me it's just plain wrong.

 

While your point is taken, just remember:

 

If you're in America and you knock someone up for a fag,

be prepared to do some jail time.....

 

MikeC, and oldie but a goodie.....

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Necrothesp
For the record, many of us "Brits" (possibly still a majority) do still consider a billion to be a million million and use "thousand million" for what the Americans call a billion. Very few people these days would use milliard though (I've never heard anyone use it in my entire life). Personally, I've never understood why we should adopt a system that only a handful of countries use (to most countries in the world a billion is still a million million). I would never, ever use the American usage, since to me it's just plain wrong.

 

While your point is taken, just remember:

 

If you're in America and you knock someone up for a fag,

be prepared to do some jail time.....

 

MikeC, and oldie but a goodie.....

An old joke. So old that it fails to acknowledge that that particular usage of "knock up" hasn't been used in Britain for donkey's years and nobody would be likely to use it (unless it's still part of certain dialects - it's certainly not in common usage)! :wink:

 

Fag is still very current of course. Although we do understand the American usage too.

 

I've always found it quite amusing that the American version of British English is usually about fifty years out of date and assumes that we're all either Cockney barrer boys or older members of the Royal Family.

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red_bus

Now the smoking ban is in place (from July 1st), If I am in a pub with friends,

I have to announce that I am so desperate for a fag that I have to go outside. :D

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Necrothesp

But to answer the original question. No, I don't tend to use American accents in CoC. Despite being into am dram it's one accent I can't do (along with Scottish). I always end up sounding like John Wayne!

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allicorn
that particular usage of "knock up" hasn't been used in Britain for donkey's years and nobody would be likely to use it

 

I'll confess to having used it, and I've certainly heard it deployed from time to time.

 

many of us "Brits" (possibly still a majority) do still consider a billion to be a million million

 

Are we living in the same country here? :-D I haven't come across even the faintest trace of the old meaning of "billion" since I was at school in the '70s.

 

I guess the lesson here - if there is one - is that there's just as much remarkable varied use of language in the UK as there is across the States.

 

Alli

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MikeC
I've always found it quite amusing that the American version of British English is usually about fifty years out of date and assumes that we're all either Cockney barrer boys or older members of the Royal Family.

 

Well, many Brits seem to think that we Americans are all either

John Wayne-style cowboys or Chicago gangsters, so I suppose

that maintains some sort of karmic balance.

 

Except for Emma Thompson: her American accent is so flawless

that for years I couldn't match her normal accent to her voice

(for proof see DEAD AGAIN).

 

MikeC

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Nollvane

When I lived in France, I was both amused and distressed at the "American" stock characters on French TV. They were easily recognized because they dressed like cowboys, acted like hicks and spoke French in a broad drawl like an exaggerated southern U.S. accent. I was ten or eleven at the time and it was my first inkling that people in foreign countries don't always see Americans the way we like to see ourselves. :lol:

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Beyond00

I'm in the states (attempting to escape to the UK but that's a different story) and we've a captive -er - resident yeah, that's it - that's the ticket - Englishman who we continually try to get to do an American southern accent. Darn, that is funny.

 

I've been told my British accent stinks. I am a language/accent absorber. Last time I was in the UK for a month people thought I was making fun of them because I had a British accent that was less than perfect. A lot. It's an imperfect absorption.

 

Anyway, after having a UK roommate for a year, we've started calling the paper towels 'kitchen rolls'; I've started referring to him as 'me ole mucker'; and proved to him in a random (and for him very embarrassing) poll in a supermarket that Americans do not have any idea what a 'wanker' is.

 

Yes, I am the 'ugly American'.

 

:)

 

Logan

 

PS: if I can get permission to upload gaming sessions to Yog, you will get to hear some various American accents and perhaps even a very nice bit of acting by people who are not me in the game I run. Wish me luck.

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Kurgan
When I lived in France, I was both amused and distressed at the "American" stock characters on French TV. They were easily recognized because they dressed like cowboys, acted like hicks and spoke French in a broad drawl like an exaggerated southern U.S. accent....

 

Oh, God, don't get me started on this one. I watch a lot of UK television shows regularly (ITV is easily my favorite UK network), and can't remember the last time I saw an American character that wasn't an intentional parody. Half the time they're Brit actors that can't do the accent well enough to fool someone from the US, but even when they get actual American actors, the lines and mannerisms they're given are just horrible. They're almost always forced to play someone who's overly loud, crude, single-minded, and unrefined. It's the worst stereotype, and I often get the feeling it's done on purpose, like they're getting a little payback for something. From Poirot to Jonathan Creek, or even Wire in the Blood, an American always seems to come across like a bad smell in the room. So far we've been spared (if I remember correctly) from this on New Tricks, which is one of my current faves.

 

On US television, Brits are never treated that way, unless it's an intentional parody (I laughed, yet cringed, at Family Guy's portrayal of the British football team, the "Sissy Nannies"). About the only common "joke" you'll hear is the old "Brits have bad teeth" gag, but even then, we know it's just a fun poke-in-the-ribs, and even some British shows have used the very same joke about themselves.

 

I'm thick-skinned. I don't take any of it poorly, but I do get tired of it after awhile, since it's virtually the only viewpoint of Americans the BBC seems able to create. It's just silly, and detracts from the show.

 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go drink lots of beer, get into a fight, do some general shouting for no apparent reason, beat my wife (if I had one), and finally poke a cow. lol

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Necrothesp
many of us "Brits" (possibly still a majority) do still consider a billion to be a million million

 

Are we living in the same country here? :-D I haven't come across even the faintest trace of the old meaning of "billion" since I was at school in the '70s.

 

I guess the lesson here - if there is one - is that there's just as much remarkable varied use of language in the UK as there is across the States.

 

Alli

Obviously we're not living in the same country. Most people I know still use the traditional long billion and wouldn't dream of using the weird foreign one. Why would we want to? We have a perfectly good definition of our own, shared by most of the rest of the world.

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Necrothesp
On US television, Brits are never treated that way, unless it's an intentional parody (I laughed, yet cringed, at Family Guy's portrayal of the British football team, the "Sissy Nannies"). About the only common "joke" you'll hear is the old "Brits have bad teeth" gag, but even then, we know it's just a fun poke-in-the-ribs, and even some British shows have used the very same joke about themselves.

Obviously you never saw Daphne's family on Frasier! Some of the worst examples of American actors trying to be British stereotypes I've ever seen.

 

Oh, plus the tired old evil villain stereotype in films.

 

No, I'll think you'll find the American entertainment media portrays Britons as badly as you think we portray you.

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Kurgan
Obviously you never saw Daphne's family on Frasier! Some of the worst examples of American actors trying to be British stereotypes I've ever seen.

 

I don't count stuff like that (be it British or American in origin) because it's an intentional send-up, and trying to be funny. (And in that instance, those weren't all American actors. Some were Brits, and the guy playing her brother is a Kiwi.)

 

The episodes I was blathering on about were all trying to be serious.

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