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So where are those Southern accents, y'all?


Vertigo2
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I recently watched two movies set in the South - one pretty good -The Reivers, and one pretty bad - The Chase. What struck me about both was that, though set in the South and with characters from the setting, Souhern accents seemed missing. Steve McQueen, for example, has no discernabke accent in Reivers, though clearly he was a "local boy", any more than Robert Redford as Bubba does in The Chase. This also reminded me of what bothers me about Gregory Peck's non-accent in To Kill a Mockingbird. I mean even if Atticus left the South to get a law degree, would his accent really be as non-Southern as it is back in his small Southern town? I would think his fellow Southerners would think he was putting on airs in that courtroom.

 

Maybe some Sourherners here would disagree - and feel my thinking is stereotypical, but I hear that charming accent from Maggie and Brick et al in Cat on a Hot etc. and in all those other Tennessee Williams dramas set in the South.

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Southern accents aren't always appropriate just because a movie is set below the Mason-Dixon line. The best example: Kevin Costner's unfortunate accent as New Orleans-area District Attorney Jim Garrison in Oliver Stone's "JFK" (1991). The accent was unnecessary. Garrison was born in Iowa and didn't have much of an accent.

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Southern accents aren't always appropriate just because a movie is set below the Mason-Dixon line. The best example: Kevin Costner's unfortunate accent as New Orleans-area District Attorney Jim Garrison in Oliver Stone's "JFK" (1991). The accent was unnecessary. Garrison was born in Iowa and didn't have much of an accent.

 

To me the overall point of the OP was that based on the setting the use of a recognizable accent can set the tone\ vibe of a film. 

 

This is similar to the discussion about historical accuracy; e.g. showing the Eiffel Tower in the background even if the specific historical scene took place in a part of Paris where one can't see the tower.  

 

In the same way each time we here Costner speaking as Garrision the vibe given off is that this is a deep south DA,  which is the case even though he didn't have such an accent.      Note that I'm not trying to defend the use of these film making techniques but only trying to explain why they might be used. 

 

Hey,  the deep south isn't all swamp land but in most films set in that area we are going to get more than our share of swamp land scenes!

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This also reminded me of what bothers me about Gregory Peck's non-accent in To Kill a Mockingbird. I mean even if Atticus left the South to get a law degree, would his accent really be as non-Southern as it is back in his small Southern town? I would think his fellow Southerners would think he was putting on airs in that courtroom.

 

 

 

Gregory Peck did make an attempt to sound a bit Southern.

 

The two actors playing his children, however, speak in very authentic Southern accents so Peck sounds even more inauthentic in comparison.

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Gregory Peck did make an attempt to sound a bit Southern.

 

The two actors playing his children, however, speak in very authentic Southern accents so Peck sounds even more inauthentic in comparison.

I don't know Finch's history. Maybe he went to a good school. I had a friend from Louisiana who was on the debating team at his (Southern) college. The coach instructed the team to lose their Southern accents, because "Nobody believes anything anyone says with a Southern accent."

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Southern accents aren’t always necessary just as Ohio, California, or Maine accents aren’t always necessary.

 

If a film is designed so that we the audience are supposed to feel like we are part of the local scene and a member of the local community, then we wouldn’t notice our own local accents, so there is no need to exaggerate any regional accents.

 

But in a film like THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, we hear both Northern and Southern regional accents, since the two different groups of fighting men did have vastly different regional accents. On the other hand, FARGO has some wonderful regional accents.

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I don't know Finch's history. Maybe he went to a good school. I had a friend from Louisiana who was on the debating team at his (Southern) college. The coach instructed the team to lose their Southern accents, because "Nobody believes anything anyone says with a Southern accent."

 

That strategy would likely work against an attorney arguing cases before a Southern jury during the timeframe of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. 

 

According to the novel, Atticus did study law in the South, specifically Montgomery, Alabama.

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Southern accents aren’t always necessary just as Ohio, California, or Maine accents aren’t always necessary.

 

 

Whoa!  I wonder what the dude here means when he's talkin' about a "California accent"???

 

(...sounds like kind of a far-out concept if ya ask me, dude!) ;)

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It was supposed to be more Appalachian "hillbilly" than Southern, but has there ever been a more pathetic attempt at an "accent" than Katharine Hepburn in Spitfire?  It was like listening to Ronald Reagan or Gregory Peck trying to curse like one of the characters in Veep.

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No accent in Peck's performance?

 

Y'know, "southern accent" is NOT an all-encompassing term.  There's differences in "southern" accents, depending on region.  In 30 years of meeting and knowing, and conversing with many southern "transplants" while working in a General Motors plant, I've learned some of the differences.

 

For instance, there was a black guy who drove a hi-lo named Harry, whom, if you closed your eyes, would have you thinking you were listening to ELVIS PRESLEY!  So, as Harry was from Mississippi, and as Elvis was BORN in Miss., and raised by probably Mississippi natives, HE probably had a Mississippi "accent" naturally folded into his speech.  Guys from Alabama sound different than the Mississippi guys,  as do the Carolina guys( North OR South ), Virginia and Tennesseans have more of a "twang", Louisianan's also have a sort of "twang", but less "nasal" than Virginia.  West Virginia is no different than Virginia.

 

I'd say Gregory Peck affects a "Georgian gentleman" accent quite well in "Mockingbird"  a TRUE Georgian says "Jaw-Jah".  Out of all of them, I kinda like GEORGIA's accent the best, but they're ALL pleasant to listen to.

 

All of this is personal opinion based on my particular experience.

 

And Harry DIDN'T put on the Elvis voice, it was just his natural speaking voice.  HE didn't realize it UNTIL I brought it up!

 

 

Sepiatone

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 Guys from Alabama sound different than the Mississippi guys,  as do the Carolina guys( North OR South )

 

 

The boundaries of linguistic (or dialect) geography do not follow state lines so it is inaccurate to generalize that people from Alabama "sound different" from those from Mississippi. Some people from both states speak with identical speech patterns.

 

Of course an individual has his or her own unique speech characteristics (or idiolect). 

 

5375686574_2a9f966d76.jpg

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The boundaries of linguistic (or dialect) geography do not follow state lines so it is inaccurate to generalize that people from Alabama "sound different" from those from Mississippi. Some people from both states speak with identical speech patterns.

 

Of course an individual has his or her own unique speech characteristics (or idiolect). 

 

 

And there are definitely class differences. I had a friend from Memphis who spoke quite a "refined" Southern accent (what the British would call posh). But visiting Memphis, I found a wide range of accents in that city, some of them barely intelligible to me. I was also told of the importance of Lookout Mountain, hillbillies, and the fact that there are differences between parts of Tennessee that are considered "Western" and those that are "Southern." Memphis is definitely southern, even though it's almost as far west as you can go in the state.

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The boundaries of linguistic (or dialect) geography do not follow state lines so it is inaccurate to generalize that people from Alabama "sound different" from those from Mississippi. Some people from both states speak with identical speech patterns.

 

Of course an individual has his or her own unique speech characteristics (or idiolect). 

 

 

 

Well look at you Henry Higgins.   :D

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No accent in Peck's performance?

 

Y'know, "southern accent" is NOT an all-encompassing term.  There's differences in "southern" accents, depending on region.  In 30 years of meeting and knowing, and conversing with many southern "transplants" while working in a General Motors plant, I've learned some of the differences.

 

For instance, there was a black guy who drove a hi-lo named Harry, whom, if you closed your eyes, would have you thinking you were listening to ELVIS PRESLEY!  So, as Harry was from Mississippi, and as Elvis was BORN in Miss., and raised by probably Mississippi natives, HE probably had a Mississippi "accent" naturally folded into his speech.  Guys from Alabama sound different than the Mississippi guys,  as do the Carolina guys( North OR South ), Virginia and Tennesseans have more of a "twang", Louisianan's also have a sort of "twang", but less "nasal" than Virginia.  West Virginia is no different than Virginia.

Sepiatone

 

I guess you're right; it's there, but seems so slight, compared to his own children and most of the other people in Maycomb that it was noticeable to me. Ditto Miss Maudie. I wondered if the filmmakers were making a conscious choice - more sympathetic characters had muted accents - not that I expected Atticus to sound like Bob Ewell (the most vile of ****). But that premise seems more applicable anywy to the other movies I mentioned as neither McQueen's character in The Reivers nor Redford's (Bubba!) in The Chase were educated or even middle class, but were sympathetic and without discernable accents and were clearly native Southerners.

 

 

 

 

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Interesting - apparently one may not use a common term for a racist which is a (red) color +the body part the head sits on. I used the term to describe the villain in To kill a Mockingbird, but it was posted as *****. I guess we don't to offend the bigots here.

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Holden's graphic is very informative.  As for accent or dialect, far too many influences.  I grew up in a small town near Charleston SC and went to college in Charleston.  However, my parents were from northeast Louisiana, which is socioeconomically far more similar to Arkansas than south Louisiana.  In college, I was exposed to professors and lots of students from outside the South.  50% of the students were from out of state and many from the North or Midwest.

How much did all that influence my accent or dialect?  Lived in northwest corner of SC for last 40+ years.  Did that influence my dialect/accent?

I think the basis of this debate is that some people expect people from various regions/locales to speak with a certain accent.  Do we expect a Bronx or Jersey accent for every character for shows in those areas?  Of course not.

Of course, Lewis Grizzard said God talks like Gov. Herman Talmadege (Georgia, 1950's) when he discussed accents. 

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And there are definitely class differences. I had a friend from Memphis who spoke quite a "refined" Southern accent (what the British would call posh). But visiting Memphis, I found a wide range of accents in that city, some of them barely intelligible to me. I was also told of the importance of Lookout Mountain, hillbillies, and the fact that there are differences between parts of Tennessee that are considered "Western" and those that are "Southern." Memphis is definitely southern, even though it's almost as far west as you can go in the state.

 

 

Given the accelerating gentrification of Manhattan along with the constant influx of outlanders, I have to wonder what year will witness the death of the last surviving "New Yawk" accent in that borough.   I'd say it'll be sometime around 2070 at the latest.

 

I must be the only person in the world who loves the sound of the "New Yawk / Brooklyn", "southern", and "Texas" accents equally, and yet finds every other regional accent grating, especially those from Bahston and the Central Midlands, where the simple connective word "and" is pronounced "aaaaaannnnnd", as in a drawn out version of "ant" with the "d" replacing the "t".  It's why it was like chalk on a blackboard to hear the late Jack Buck call a baseball game.

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I was born in Atlanta, Ga. I have lived all over the South. From Columbia, SC to New Orleans, La. with some others in between. If you were to meet me and hear me speak, you would be hard-pressed to say I have a Deep South Southern accent and yet I Am Southern By The Grace Of God.

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Given the accelerating gentrification of Manhattan along with the constant influx of outlanders, I have to wonder what year will witness the death of the last surviving "New Yawk" accent in that borough.   I'd say it'll be sometime around 2070 at the latest.

 

I must be the only person in the world who loves the sound of the "New Yawk / Brooklyn", "southern", and "Texas" accents equally, and yet finds every other regional accent grating, especially those from Bahston and the Central Midlands, where the simple connective word "and" is pronounced "aaaaaannnnnd", as in a drawn out version of "ant" with the "d" replacing the "t".  It's why it was like chalk on a blackboard to hear the late Jack Buck call a baseball game.

Andy, you must be pleased that Bernie Sanders has decided to run for President. He may be a Senator from Vermont, but he is from Brooklyn and sounds like it! I too love those accents. And they are endangered, as are the regional accents in London. Henry Higgins wouldn't have such an easy time pinpointing which neighborhood people come from, these days!

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Given the accelerating gentrification of Manhattan along with the constant influx of outlanders, I have to wonder what year will witness the death of the last surviving "New Yawk" accent in that borough.   I'd say it'll be sometime around 2070 at the latest.

 

And word is there be so many o' them there Yankees movin' into Raleigh North Carolina, by 2030 the people still sayin' "y'all" 'round them there parts will be harder to find than hen's teeth!

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Given the accelerating gentrification of Manhattan along with the constant influx of outlanders, I have to wonder what year will witness the death of the last surviving "New Yawk" accent in that borough.   I'd say it'll be sometime around 2070 at the latest.

 

I must be the only person in the world who loves the sound of the "New Yawk / Brooklyn", "southern", and "Texas" accents equally, and yet finds every other regional accent grating, especially those from Bahston and the Central Midlands, where the simple connective word "and" is pronounced "aaaaaannnnnd", as in a drawn out version of "ant" with the "d" replacing the "t".  It's why it was like chalk on a blackboard to hear the late Jack Buck call a baseball game.

"I don't believe what I just saw!".............cringe,......ouch!........eeeeek!

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