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British, Mid-Atlantic, and American accents in movies ??


FredCDobbs
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I could not undertsand much of the dialogue of some of Rex Harrison's movies that seemed to be made for British audiences only (not for American audiences), yet he was so clear -- yet British sounding -- in his films made for American audiences and for both British and American audiences. This type of accent is known as Mid-Atlantic, as if there were a country located halfway between England and America where everyone sounds a little British, but are easy to understand.

 

Does anyone else have any opinions about this?

 

Vivien Leight sounded so British in her early movies but so American in Gone with the Wind, and then Mid-Atlantic in some of her later American movies.

 

I find this ability to speak in different accents very interesting and impossible for me to imitate. :)

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>I find this ability to speak in different accents very interesting and impossible for me to imitate. :)

 

It's a good thing Tony Curtis didn't have this problem, or else "Some Like It Hot" would've have quite as funny and clever without him being able to do Cary Grant's Mid-Atlantic accent in it.

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Such a large number of Hollywood actors (leads and character actors) came from the U.K. and Canada and then lived their lives in the U.S. so consider that it was natural for most of them to lose some of their accent and speak more "American" . I image that some of them sounded a little "foreign" when they returned to their home turf for visits years later. So unless an actor was consciously speaking to a role I guess their normal speaking would then be Mid Atlantic.

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Yeah, but if he were BETTER at it, we wouldn't have had, "Yonda lies da castle of my FAHDDAH!"

 

The same goes, Fred, with this forums' members favorite version of "Christmas Carol", starring Alistair Sim. Made in England for English audiences, the accents and vernacular and syntax takes some a few viewings to fully appreciate it. I found I needed several viewings of "The Full Monty" to appreciate just how hilarious it is.

 

So I guess this means I see what you mean, Fred.

 

Sepiatone

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I've never been able to tell a Canadian accent, except for two or three words. Like fill-em for film, and a couple of others I never can remember until I hear them.

 

I've traveled all over the US in the documentary film business and I'm convinced there are more strong regional US differences in accents than there are Canadian/US differences.

 

For example, Brooklyn, Cajun.... Mississippi, Indiana.... West Virginia (very hillbilly in the coal country), Chicago. Everyone I've spoken to in Chicago sounds to me like they are in the Mafia.

 

In Brooklyn, there are several accents even in the same neighborhoods: Jewish, Irish, Italian, and black. I can tell you which is which with my eyes closed.

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I've never heard of audiences in England not being able to understand American film accents. Do you know of any? They are not familiar with all our slang expressions, but the way we pronounce normal words, they can always understand.

 

But I heard a British news reporter on CNN or some channel talking about a Woh that might break out in the Middle East.

 

He said it several times. I finally figured out he meant a War.

 

Why would he call it a Woh?

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For the same reason the Northeastern part of the U.S.A. is called "New England".

 

Both in the U.K. and in New England the letter "R' is pronounced very softly and with an"ah" sound....such as in the English manner of pronouncing the word, "water" as 'whoa-tah".

 

What I could never figure out is why in both of those locations they also very often make the "R" sound when pronouncing words that ends in "W", such as the word "saw", and pronouncing it as "sauer"

 

(...and don't even get me started on how JFK would often pronounce a certain country's name during a time known as "The Missiles of October"...YOU know: "Cuber"!!!)

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And don't forget those who reside in North Dakota here, Mr.R.

 

(...and evidenced by how many of the locals of the city of Fargo STILL after all these years indignantly insist that Frances McDormand and the rest of 'em in that flick "got it ALL wrong"!!!) ;)

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>Fred, when I have traveled into Michigan, including the upper peninsula and over Wisconsin, Minnesota way , I thought a lot of the people sounded "Canadian".

 

I would imagine that if you traveled often up near the border you would be able to spot them better than I can.

 

My situation is that I've traveled to about 45 US states, and I've heard all kinds of regional accents. Of course there are even city accents, and different accents within different parts of cities, such as the Irish Channel accent of New Orleans. It used to be a large Irish neighborhood, but gradually all kinds of people, including Italians, moved into it, and so kids grew up going to school in that neighborhood and they picked up the same accent. Especially the Irish and Italians, because they went to the same Catholic churches together, as well as going to the same schools together.

 

One of the strangest hillbilly accents I ever heard was up in Western West Virginia, near Logan, in the coal mining country. They sounded a little like the old-timers in the movie Sgt. York.

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>As Vivien's husband would say; why don't you try acting!

>

>In other words actors lose their native accent or are able to fake accents because they work at it since often it is a job requirement.

 

My main job requirement was to sound non-specific Mid-Western. There are some cities in some Mid-Western US states where the people seem to have no accents at all, just American accents. They pronounce words in normal standard ways.

 

War is pronounced war, not Woh. Cuba is pronounced Cuba, not Cuber (such as among some people of Boston). America is pronounced America, not 'merica. Arab is pronounced Arab, not A-rab.

 

New Orleans, by the way, has several "correct" ways to pronounce it now. I don't know what the old original French way was, but now it can be "New Orleens", "Nwalns" (for certain locals), New Orleans, and a few others.

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Oh, I dunno Fred(wait, that's right, Fred has me on ignore).

 

Oh, I dunno FOLKS, but to ME that little punk with the gun who somehow knocks out the guy(doin' a pretty decent John Wayne impression I might add) without comin' even close to him with that thrown punch, suuuure sounds like HE'S doin' as good a Leo Gorcey impression as I'VE ever heard, anyway!

 

(...be they Brits or NOT!!!)

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WHAT James?! No conformation here of my extremely astute observation that that one guy who gets killed sounds like John Wayne AND that the little punk with the gun sounds EXACTLY like Leo Gorcey??????

 

(...now what's a guy gotta do around here to get a "right-on" every once in a while, HUH?!)

 

LOL

 

;)

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Where are ya gettin' that "John Wayne/New York" idea here, James? I never said there was any connection like that.

 

Now, hit Fred's link again and then go to the 00:40 second mark, and listen to that Brit's PHRASING as he says his lines.

 

THAT dude sounds just like a young and slightly inebriated Duke Wayne there!

 

(...oh and btw...even though he says "hurt" and not "hoit", the little guy with the gun definitely sounds much more like Gorcey than Robinson...remember, you're talkin' to a guy with a First Class Grade-A ear for voices here, my friend!) ;)

 

Edited by: Dargo2 on Sep 1, 2013 4:39 PM

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Interesting article about how the British accent has evolved over the years and that American accents from industrialized cities with the "rhotic r" are probably closer to the old British accent than what we accept as the proper British accent today (Received Pronunciation.) So the answer to the title of the article is that Americans (at least some of us) never lost their British accent. It was the British that lost theirs.

 

http://mentalfloss.com/article/29761/when-did-americans-lose-their-british-accents

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What I could never figure out is why in both of those locations they also very often make the "R" sound when pronouncing words that ends in "W", such as the word "saw", and pronouncing it as "sauer"

 

(...and don't even get me started on how JFK would often pronounce a certain country's name during a time known as "The Missiles of October"...YOU know: "Cuber"!!!)

 

Dargo, what you are describing here is a linguistic phenomenon known as an intrusive r that is heard in English speakers who speak with a non-rhotic accent. An accent of English is either rhotic or non-rhotic. Speakers of a rhotic accent pronounce the rhotic consonant ("r") in all positions where "r" occurs in a word while speakers of a non-rhotic accent do not pronounce the rhotic consonant UNLESS the "r" is followed by a vowel sound. So a non-rhotic speaker would say "butter" as "buttuh" as a stand alone word but the "r" would be pronounced when saying "The butter is delicious" because the "er" in butter is immediately followed by a vowel sound (the "i" in "is). This is what is known as a linking r.

The instrusive r in some non-rhotic accents is the insertion of the "r" sound after a word ending in a non-high vowel when the word is immediately followed by a word beginning with a vowel sound: such as the phrase "law® and order" that is heard in many non-rhotic accents. So, "Cuba" would not be pronounced "Cuber" unless the word is immediately followed by word begining with a vowel sound as in JFK's phrase "nuclear missile launched from Cuba® against any nation" where the word "Cuba" is followed by a word ("against") beginning with a vowel sound.

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The 'New Yorker' thing was because Fred said they all sounded like New Yorkers more than British (which I agree with), but I did listen to the part you mention and your 100% correct!

 

I was too focused on the punk (the guy on the right). The guy on the left does do a classic John Wayne stutter,,, pause, stutter, type of speech (but all in a few seconds).

 

What can I say; my hearing is trained to hear music not voices! Next time I'll just take your word for it.

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FredCDobbs wrote:

 

"...I've never been able to tell a Canadian accent, except for two or three words. Like fill-em for film..."

 

I assure you, Fred, "fill-em" is NOT a typical way for a Canadian to pronounce the word "film". The vast majority of us say it as one syllable, same as everyone else.

 

Accents are more a regional phenomenon than a national one.

 

Last time I heard someone say "fill-um" (two syllables) instead of "film" (one syllable) was many years ago, and it was an old person from a non-urban area.

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