fake American dialects (Society Listserv?)

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Jun 23 20:32:02 UTC 2008

My message was essentially about fake American accents which I
flatter myself I detected.  And they were intended to deceive -- that
is, to sound American -- and were not comic.

I hope I will not be coerced into listening to many episodes of PBS's
Mystery!  Does anyone else have the same impression, and can name the
programs and characters?  I'm beginning to remember possible other
instances -- various American detectives or Pinkerton agents coming
to assist -- or interfere with -- Holmes; American archaelogists in a
Poirot (David Suchet) episode.


At 6/23/2008 04:15 PM, David Donnell wrote:
>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

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

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