fake American dialects (Society Listserv?)

David Donnell daviddonnell at NYC.RR.COM
Mon Jun 23 20:15:18 UTC 2008

Hugh Laurie's "House" dialect & Charlize Theron's adopted
conversational dialect have nothing to do with "comic effect", unless
I'm missing something.

Also, you say most people don't know the difference between a good &
bad fake U.S. accent... I guess that's true, sounds like it.

In any case, my point was that *I* usually know the difference--at
least I think I do--but Hugh Laurie fooled me. I was surprised to
learn that he's a Brit. And if many others are doing fake U.S.
accents as passably as him, maybe I'm not as good at catching 'fake
Americans' as I thought--always possible. I'd be interested in
hearing about 'em.


>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Page Stephens <hpst at EARTHLINK.NET>
>Subject:      Re: fake American dialects (Society Listserv?)
>Having written a few radio comedies all I can tell you is that your purpose
>is not to get the accents right but to exaggerate them for comic effect.
>In other words accuracy is not your first concern.
>I am certain that this becomes much more of a concern for writers of Brit
>sitcoms such as Last of Summer's Wine which is localized and the characters
>are purportedly from a single place.
>What I did was to use standard comic speech and stole blindly from such
>stock characters as Eccles (The Goon Show) and Mortimer Snerd (Edgar
>Bergen's creation) in order to create a perfect idiot.
>The point I am making is that you have to deal first of all with your
>audience and then with accuracy since most of them wouldn't know the
>difference anyway.
>Then there are the absolutely phony accents - WC Fields comes to mind -
>which are pure inventions - his Micawber in David Copperfield is WC Fields
>writ large but it works.
>If you want to see Hugh Laurie's talent then watch his Bertie Wooster in
>Jeeves and Wooster or the various characters he played in A Bit of Fry and
>Laurie or in Black Adder.
>Always remember, however, to take the audience into consideration which the
>producer and director  have to do and make it accessible to them and if you
>have an international audience you have to make it understandable to them.
>Today I am able to listen to a Goon Show which starred Peter Sellers, Spike
>Milligan and Harry Secombe, but when I first heard one I didn't have any
>idea what the hell they were saying in their various phony accents.
>My point is very simple: when you are analyzing any accent you hear on TV,
>radio or in the movies you have to take into account the audience to which
>it is directed since that is the third participant in the equation.
>Page Stephens
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "David Donnell" <daviddonnell at NYC.RR.COM>
>Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2008 9:57 AM
>Subject: [ADS-L] fake American dialects (Society Listserv?)
>>  Was listening to Brit actor Hugh Laurie in his lead role on the TV
>>  series "House"... Was wondering if his fake American accent is as
>>  solid as it seems, or if it's just that his voice is compelling; I
>>  don't pick up anything regional when he speaks, as I often do with my
>>  fellow Americans, no sense of place to it.
>>  Also, South African Charlize Theron seems quite good at her assumed
>>  American accent, although there's something I can't put my finger on
>>  that bugs me about it. (Not that I've spent tons of time listening to
>>  her.) In any case, unlike the "House" guy, Theron's U.S. dialect
>>  isn't just for a role, she apparently uses it in real life...
>>  stateside at least.
>>  Thoughts?
>>  Any other favorite fake U.S. accents? (Whether competent or
>>  entertaining; Monty Python used to crack me up with their screwy
>>  American accents.)
>>  David
>>  Missourian @ NYC
>>  ___________________________________________________
>>  Wikipedia on Hugh Laurie's American accent:
>  >
>>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Laurie
>>  For his portrayal, Laurie assumes an American accent.[1] Laurie was
>>  in Namibia filming Flight of the Phoenix and recorded the audition
>>  tape for the show in the bathroom of the hotel, the only place he
>>  could get enough light.[8] His US accent was so convincing that
>>  executive producer Bryan Singer, who was unaware at the time that
>>  Laurie is English, pointed to him as an example of just the kind of
>>  compelling American actor he had been looking for. Laurie also adopts
>>  the voice between takes on the set of House, as well as during script
>>  read-throughs.
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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