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What is it about accents?
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The Grey Elf
Gondor


Nov 16 2013, 4:39pm

Post #1 of 99 (1251 views)
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What is it about accents? Can't Post

Do you love foreign accents, or more specifically, hearing your native language spoken with one? I do. I find them romantic, sexy, fascinating. I love hearing most, though definitely not all, foreign accents. When I hear a woman speak with an accent, I'd love to sound like her; a man, have him whisper sweet nothings in my ear. But here/hear are some interesting exceptions:

1. The stronger the accent, the less clearly I can comprehend, the less attractive it becomes. So, when it amounts to an impediment to communication, an accent's attractiveness is significantly diminished.

2. With apologies to my countrymen and women, I cannot think if a single American accent that I find the least bit alluring. So, is this because American accents as a whole are unattractive/comical, or is it merely a cultural thing stemming from familiarity?

British accents are, for me, in a class all their own. But that's due to more of a circumstantial, rather than aesthetic, factor I think. I've been exposed to them more and closely associate them with things that I love, such as period dramas and high-brow fantasy. In fact, an article was written not long ago re the fact that a British accent seems to be de riguer in fantasy. (I regret that I don't recall the source of this article. Anybody?)

So what's your take on the exotic qualities of speech? And most importantly, is there anyone out there who thinks it's sexy to talk like an American??? Wink

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Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Nov 16 2013, 5:00pm

Post #2 of 99 (533 views)
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It has a certain quality.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I personally like different accents, ones from the UK and surrounding countries especially. Somehow it seems to me to be the 'correct way' ('natural' would be a better word.) to speak English. Colonial Americans seemed to have changed it just to be different. Americans.....(Please note that I am one, and mean no disrespect.)

Now America has its own accents, and I find that leaving one area, or speaking in a different manner, confuses people. I work a till at a local shop, and get asked dozens of times "Where is your accent from?" I have lived in the same state all my life, but have refined my pronunciation to something that I feel allows me to speak with more ease or clarity. Thus my pronunciations will vary considerably from the local norm.

(Ex. There is a final 't' in 'twenty', 'thirty', et al, so I say 'thir-TEE'. The local pronunciation is 'thirdy')

Sometimes I regret the choice, though. You do get tired of being hit on by every third customer.....

Call me Rem. Rembrethil is a lot to type!!


Dame Ioreth
Grey Havens


Nov 16 2013, 5:15pm

Post #3 of 99 (528 views)
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I love certain sounds and cadences [In reply to] Can't Post

so I love the sound of Portuguese, the language itself. It sounds musical to me. When I hear a native Portuguese speaker speaking English, that musicality seems to translate, making the accented English appealing to my ear.

I love certain accents from the UK, but not others - again it's the musicality of the sound. One of my favorite UK accents is Welsh.

My absolute favorite accent from the US (besides the sound of the one I grew up with and no longer live near) is the Old Virginia southern gentleman accent. It is a muted southern accent, not the broad harsh sounding "Paula Deen" type accent. It also has a subtle, musical quality to it.

Where there's life there's hope, and need of vittles.
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings



Old Toby
Gondor


Nov 16 2013, 5:34pm

Post #4 of 99 (509 views)
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I love foreign accents [In reply to] Can't Post

and I've always wondered how American accents sound? Being American, I have no idea how that sounds. I love the British and Scottish and New Zealand accents! As you said, when they talk fast it's often hard to understand what they are saying. It's very embarrassing, as I have to ask them to repeat themselves. And sometimes I have difficulty understanding what they are saying in video interviews and the like.

I remember in one television interview Benedict Cumberbatch was talking about his name, that it sounded like in a (****) in a bathtub (I won't go into that here), and the host didn't understand what he had said, and he immediately put on his American accent and repeated his sentence. It was brilliant! And got a lot of laughs from that. His American accent, btw, was spot-on!

I know here in the US we have a lot of different accents depending on what part of the country you're from. Most pronounced are the Southern, but also the New Englanders have a distinctive way of pronouncing some words.

"Age is always advancing and I'm fairly sure it's up to no good." Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher)

(This post was edited by Old Toby on Nov 16 2013, 5:35pm)


Meneldor
Tol Eressea


Nov 16 2013, 6:14pm

Post #5 of 99 (497 views)
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I agree with Ioreth. [In reply to] Can't Post

A soft southern belle/Georgia peach accent can be very pleasant if it's not overdone.


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Nov 16 2013, 6:32pm

Post #6 of 99 (501 views)
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I get the same question [In reply to] Can't Post

I grew up in the American Midwest and have lived for decades in Texas. And yet people will ask me if I'm British! Shocked No one who's actually familiar with a British accent of any sort would ask that, but every now and then some parochial soul among my countrymen will pick up on my attempt to enunciate clearly and think it means British. Weird.

When I hear someone with really thick Texas accent, it amuses me, because it sounds like a put-on. But it's not. When my Ohio-born bridesmaid arrived for my wedding, she had trouble understanding my East Texas-born mother-in-law!

I do love a good Scottish accent, and I agree that British accents of all sorts, and Kiwi, and Aussie, are music to the ears. Whenever I come back to the US after a period among speakers of those dialects, your average garden-variety American accent sounds flat and whiny.




Magpie
Immortal


Nov 16 2013, 7:03pm

Post #7 of 99 (479 views)
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I always liked Val Kilmer's accent when he did Doc Holliday in Tombstone [In reply to] Can't Post

...which I guess must be a Georgian accent since Doc was from Georgia?


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Magpie
Immortal


Nov 16 2013, 7:50pm

Post #8 of 99 (512 views)
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which American accent? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I've always wondered how American accents sound? Being American, I have no idea how that sounds.


There are so many accents. I was in Arkansas once and couldn't understand the woman talking to me (at the time, I was from Michigan). I've realized that the nuances of friends speech were really driven by their location of origins.

The classic Minnesota accent is colored by the Swedes, Norwegians, and Finns who immigrated here. Then Minnesotans emigrated to Alaska which gives us the Sarah Palin accent. When I asked one woman about her accent she said she was from an area of North Dakota settled in by Ukrainian people and hints of that accent were evident in her speech. And we visited North Carolina where people still had detectable hints of a Scottish accent (passed down through generations from Scottish immigrants).

Mr and Mrs Howell on Gilligan's Island speaks with a Locust Valley lockjaw accent, Sheldon Cooper with a Texan accent, Rosie Perez with a Brooklyn accent, and the Blues Brothers with a Chicago accent.

However, "General American, like British Received Pronunciation (RP) and most standard language varieties of many other societies, has never been the accent of the entire nation. However, it has become widely spoken in many American films, TV series, national news, commercial ads, and American radio broadcasts" (wikipedia)

and to figure out what others hear in the this 'General American accent', I guess we have to hear them do it badly. I used to wonder why people on certain British tv shows were sounding so weird and then I finally got it! They were playing an American. Badly.

Even though the don't nail it, I think it's an exaggerated version of what they hear. I think the worse I've heard was a character in the BBC series MI5/Spooks. Genevieve O'Reilly, from Ireland, was playing an American CIA agent.

I think she started by trying for a broad, general version but she'd slip into, a times, something vaguely southern-ish which might make sense if she was meant to evoke a Virginian accent (Langley). Then she kind of slipped into some sort of weird NY Bronx/Brooklyn type accent. And the writers keep giving her lines that use British syntax like making Langley plural rather than singular. Do a video search for: sarah caulfield spooks ... to have a listen. If you're lucky, you'll get a scene with Richard Armitage. :-)


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Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Nov 16 2013, 8:36pm

Post #9 of 99 (468 views)
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We were quite amused.... [In reply to] Can't Post

...when we were in Iceland in August to detect a Minnesota-like accent in our Icelandic guide's English! It's the Norwegian/Scandinavian ancestry common to both areas, I'm sure. But, oddly enough, he sounded more Minnesota than actual Norwegians did.

Normally British actors do excellent American accents, much better than vice versa (glittering generality here, of course) but every now and then you hear a bad one, or a good one let slip.

During the first "Moriarity" episode of this season's Elementary, the woman playing Irene Adler spoke with an American accent. After three sentences I said to my husband, "She's English pretending to be American. I wonder if that's just the actress or if it's part of the plot." It turned out to be part of the plot, in that later on in the story Adler revealed her true identity as British. However, if I picked up the shaky accent, Sherlock certainly should have, so I suspect it boils down to the actress over-doing it.




Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Nov 16 2013, 8:37pm

Post #10 of 99 (471 views)
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I guess Enunciation=British [In reply to] Can't Post

I too enunciate quite clearly, to the point of repeating myself even if I was understood. My parents were always critical (In a good waySmile) of our pronunciation and articulation, and I am now glad they were. Being able to speak clearly, and in an articulate manner is a great life skill, right up there with arithmetic, writing, and grammar.

'You'll use it/them all your life, so you had best be good at it!' - Words to live by.

Call me Rem. Rembrethil is a lot to type!!


Annael
Half-elven


Nov 16 2013, 9:42pm

Post #11 of 99 (471 views)
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I admit a bit of bias [In reply to] Can't Post

I like some accents, don't care for some others. I'm a West Coast American and I find accents from other parts of the country . . . amusing, shall we say? And sometimes grating.

When we were in Britain, we wandered down to Cornwall for a week and all the people there sounded like Americans to our American ears. The Yorkshire accent defeated us but otherwise we could understand folks wherever we went. We also found that most Brits seemed to think that all Americans either come from Texas or sound like John Wayne.

There IS something about RP that adds weight to what a person is actually saying, somehow.

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Lissuin
Tol Eressea


Nov 17 2013, 12:16am

Post #12 of 99 (430 views)
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Ha! [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
And most importantly, is there anyone out there who thinks it's sexy to talk like an American???


When we lived in Australia in the '80's, I had a very small speaking part in an amateur play and was feeling insecure about my accent. What helped was that one day in rehearsal, a fellow actor began to wax lyrical about my very American accent. He was fairly aswoon with rapture!

"Oh, I adore the way you talk! It's beautiful! You sound just like Meryl Streep!" On and on. I mean, this was OTT before we knew there was such a thing - or what it was called!

BlushLah-dee-dah!

(Go California girls! Laugh)


Kim
Valinor


Nov 17 2013, 1:28am

Post #13 of 99 (413 views)
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I love discussing accents! [In reply to] Can't Post

There are definitely certain accents I really like, such as Scottish, English, Welsh, Kiwi and Aussie. And when it comes to Scottish, the stronger the better!

As a fellow American, I have to agree with you, our accents just don't compare. And pretty much everyone where I live (West coast) speaks with a generic American accent, such as you hear on newscasts. So to my ears, it's kind of boring. Although, a friend of mine worked in England for a while (either Manchester or Birmingham) and they thought her accent was cute.

I think I'm in the same boat as you as far as British accents go. We watched a lot of British tv shows growing up, and I too love period dramas and a lot of British tv shows. And now that I can get BBCA, I find myself checking it for something fun to watch, if only for the accents. Sly

I think too that I tend to like British accents since that's where my family came from, several generations ago, so I feel more of a connection that say to French or Italian, which are nice, but don't quite grab me the same way.


Kim
Valinor


Nov 17 2013, 1:39am

Post #14 of 99 (399 views)
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Sarah Caufield [In reply to] Can't Post

Her American accent was atrocious! I cringed every time she spoke, it was so awful. Her character was supposed to be from Boston, but no way was that a Boston accent. I basically just tried to ignore her and focus on Lucas/Richard. Wink

Regarding the general American accent, I mentioned here on a post a while back that I came across an episode of "How the States Got Their Shapes" that was doing a special on American accents. It went through several specific areas of the country starting on the East Coast, but by the time you get west of the Rocky Mountains, pretty much everyone speaks in the same generic American accent. So while there's no accent that everyone speaks, that is the one that approximately half the country speaks (at least geographically).


Na Vedui
Rohan


Nov 17 2013, 1:40am

Post #15 of 99 (416 views)
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Sexy American [In reply to] Can't Post

In my last job we had a computer system with support in the USA, so I used to talk to various US guys on the phone, and some of them had a really lovely accent, but I've no idea where they hailed from. And when they called me "ma'am" as well, wow! Nobody gets that over here but the Queen.


Kim
Valinor


Nov 17 2013, 1:44am

Post #16 of 99 (407 views)
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Cornwall [In reply to] Can't Post

That's really interesting that people sounded American there. I've never been, but have heard of a distinct Cornish accent that I've always been curious to hear.

I've heard the Yorkshire accent on tv/movies and admit that one is pretty extreme and hard to understand to my ears.


Magpie
Immortal


Nov 17 2013, 1:49am

Post #17 of 99 (435 views)
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One American (male) whose voice I think is sexy [In reply to] Can't Post

is Matthew McConaughey.

But being an American myself, that doesn't address the question asked.

If the person you spoke to said 'ma'am', it's likely they were from the south. :-)


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Werde Spinner
Rohan


Nov 17 2013, 4:10am

Post #18 of 99 (385 views)
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Oh, definitely. [In reply to] Can't Post

We're still taught our manners around here in the South. Wink 'Sir' and 'ma'am' are applied regardless of age and station. It's just basic politeness.


In Reply To
If the person you spoke to said 'ma'am', it's likely they were from the south. :-)

In Reply To


"I had forgotten that. It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels. The world is all grown strange. Elf and Dwarf in company walk in our daily fields; and folk speak with the Lady of the Wood and yet live; and the Sword comes back to war that was broken in the long ages ere the fathers of our fathers rode into the Mark! How shall a man judge what to do in such times?"

"As he ever has judged. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."


Werde Spinner
Rohan


Nov 17 2013, 4:55am

Post #19 of 99 (380 views)
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Depends on where the American is from! [In reply to] Can't Post

I love hearing a good Southern drawl. It just sounds so natural and so home-like to me after so many voices on the radio and TV that have been scrubbed and sterilized of all personality and regional inflections. Of course, it helps that I am from the South myself and so have been used to hearing said drawl all my life. I know a lot of other Americans equate our drawl with ignorance, but I know that's because they're just jealous. Tongue In return, we have our own ideas of people from the rest of the US... Evil

As for foreign accents, I have decidedly weird tastes. I can tolerate British accents, but I don't love them. Irish and Scottish accents sound quite pleasant from what I've heard, which admittedly isn't much. French accents are like nails on a chalkboard to me. Aussie and Kiwi accents are a bit easier on my ears than the British, although I'm not really sure why. I am fond of the German accent (Hochdeutsch), though. What can I say, I'm German-American. Funnily enough, my family came from Bavaria in Germany, and Bavarians are often mocked by the rest of Germany for having the German equivalent of a Southern accent. So add the Bavarian accent to the list.

Now I want to do a study on how geographic location affects pronunciation...

All that being said, though, I would like to add that a good voice can work wonders even with an accent I don't care for, and a weak or bad voice can mangle even an accent I like. Case in point: I would like the sound of RA's voice even if he were speaking French... Angelic



"I had forgotten that. It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels. The world is all grown strange. Elf and Dwarf in company walk in our daily fields; and folk speak with the Lady of the Wood and yet live; and the Sword comes back to war that was broken in the long ages ere the fathers of our fathers rode into the Mark! How shall a man judge what to do in such times?"

"As he ever has judged. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."


Meneldor
Tol Eressea


Nov 17 2013, 5:22am

Post #20 of 99 (364 views)
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One of my old Air Force buddies [In reply to] Can't Post

from Maine has a pronounced Yankee accent. He told me that when he was assigned to a training group, there was one Southerner and a bunch of Midwesterners in the group. As you'd expect, the Yankee and the Southerner got along like cats and dogs, but after a while, the two of them banded together and accused all the others of having "no culture, no heritage, and no accent."


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.


Starling
Half-elven


Nov 17 2013, 5:22am

Post #21 of 99 (374 views)
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Exints? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't have one of those. Wink


Lissuin
Tol Eressea


Nov 17 2013, 5:55am

Post #22 of 99 (369 views)
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Exints?! Exints?! [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been working on my New Zild and came across this doco from News One. Injoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV_UmOvV1vs


Escapist
Gondor


Nov 17 2013, 6:04am

Post #23 of 99 (359 views)
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I guess I don't really care about accents. [In reply to] Can't Post

They don't bug me. Theydoun do enitheen fer me eeder.

Curiously, I at times catch myself slipping into an accent that I picked up from too many years at a certain school ...

Maybe they are good for a laugh sometimes? I can't pick out where a person is from based on an accent and it feels like there are so many different ones that it is almost easier to just associate an accent with a person instead of trying to group them too much. People travel alot these days and families disperse and remarry. I think people are a little full of themselves sometimes with thinking they know so much about it - but maybe I'm wrong - that's quite possible. It's just my gut reaction, though, when people go off about categorizing how others speak - although maybe I shouldn't be so rude as to say so.

Heck! I change my own manner of speaking from day to day! I change how I talk when I am trying to be formal, too. How can it be that easy to really categorize accents by regions anymore? I think it's a thing that is wearing out.


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Nov 17 2013, 6:32am

Post #24 of 99 (350 views)
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That's agreat doco. [In reply to] Can't Post

Jim Mora has disappeared from our TV of late - to our detriment, I think.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Starling
Half-elven


Nov 17 2013, 6:48am

Post #25 of 99 (386 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

According to that doco, I have a 'cultivated' New Zild accent.
Um...yeah...nah Laugh

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