Thursday, August 29, 2013

Three Things Thursday: Dialects

1. So, what's up with accents in mainstream American media?  Pretty much everyone in TV and the movies is forced to speak with the same regional dialect.

So here are American accents that I never seen on TV: the local dialect in Oregon, the accent my Illinois relatives have, the accent my Tennesee relatives have, and the Boston accent my old boss had.  There are probably several Southern accents which you can add to that list.  Sometimes you hear a Canadian accent, but most Canadian actors are forced to speak like Americans while filming.

I suppose this tendency to only have one "official" dialect isn't limited to America, though.  Ancient Greek had four different dialects, but Attic (i.e. Athenian) was the official, most common one.  Every now and then, you find Athenian comedies which poke fun at the funny-talking Spartans.  As for the Doric Greek dialect, I've never seen it get used.

2. If you've seen my Nancy Drew: Secret of Shadow Ranch walkthrough, you probably heard my southwestern accent. That's actually an Appalachian accent, which I took directly from Li'l Abner. It just sounds mildly Southwestern when I do it.

I might have mixed in a bit of Texan, for good measure.  I don't remember, because I made those videos years ago.

3.  The only accents I sometimes hear are New York accents (and occasionally other accents from that area).  But I only hear them on shows produced in New York.  I suspect that actors from New York, who have moved to Hollywood, get forced to drop their accents.

General Hospital has some native New Yorkers who don't bother hiding their accents. When I first started watching, it took me a while to understand them, especially the guy who mumbles all the dang time.  I just wonder if he mumbles like that in real life, or if that's just his character.


GameOverTown said...

That is what YouTube is for.

C said...

Same with RP in British English. Certain American accents (ie, most of them) just aren't respected in entertainment because of associated stereotypes. Sometimes accents exaggerate the stereotypes, and sometimes stereotypes exaggerate the accents.

In America, the 'Midwest' accent is considered 'accentless' and thus is most desired for television and such. The only other accents which are valued in America (and are not exploited, like Southern accents) are European or Australian

Anonymous said...

Maybe they force the actors to use the same accent in order to prevent confusion. If you watched a movie and every other character have a different accent it might get a little distracting and some people might have trouble understanding them.

But it is also important to note that sometimes some characters in movies do have different accents when it is important to the plot. That is just my opinion though

Cupcake said...

Like C said, some American accents have sterotypes and aren't respected in the entertainment business. As for Canadian accents, most shows are American and are shot in the U.S so there isn't really a point of hiring Canadian actors. Also, many Canadians speak in 'the normal' accent.

Anonymous said...

Having a "standard dialect" also makes it easier for those learning English too. In my German classes, we use the standard German (Hochdeutsch), but when we hear speakers of the Bavarian dialect, for instance, it's really difficult to understand even though it's all German. And that's just referring to pronunciation - there's also different slang and combinations of words to be considered too (such as "y'all").

Anonymous said...

How i met your mother has a woman with a canadian accent ^_^

Breanna;) said...

I have a country accent!!! I hate it though, I've been trying to get rid of it for a long time, but I can't!

Anonymous said...

Michael I want to know your opinion on One Direction? I know it's random and probably dumb, but I just wanted to know.. ok bye

Suzanne Klare said...

You know anon, I think you've woken up all the directioners who follow this blog.
What. Have. You. DONE?!?!