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Old 03-30-2012, 04:28 AM   #1
Lalwendë
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Ring Why are fantasy world accents British?

Interesting article on the BBC site today:

Why are fantasy world accents British?

They bring up the example of Kevin Costner in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves to show how jarring an American accent can sound when supposedly in an 'English' setting. Though really, should it matter in a fantasy film or series? What do you think?
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Old 03-30-2012, 07:52 AM   #2
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Interesting article on the BBC site today:

Why are fantasy world accents British?

They bring up the example of Kevin Costner in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves to show how jarring an American accent can sound when supposedly in an 'English' setting. Though really, should it matter in a fantasy film or series? What do you think?
I think for film and stage adaptations of stories and books in general, sounding the part is every bit as important as acting it.

I know that in the movie Amadeus the American accents of the Emperor, and especially Tom Hulce's Mozart, mar for me what is otherwise an excellent film.
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Old 03-30-2012, 09:51 AM   #3
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I think for film and stage adaptations of stories and books in general, sounding the part is every bit as important as acting it.

I know that in the movie Amadeus the American accents of the Emperor, and especially Tom Hulce's Mozart, mar for me what is otherwise an excellent film.
Well, considering the entire assembly most likely should have been speaking either French (as was the courtly lingua franca of the time, even in the Holy Roman Empire) or Italian, I don't think the accents in Amadeus are jarring at all.

Robin Hood is a bit different, in that it is an English legend; therefore Costner's Midwestern American accent was off (as was his wooden acting). Of course, it could've been worse. You could have had Joe Pesci's New Jersey accent.
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Old 03-30-2012, 11:18 AM   #4
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I think it's something to do with how the rest of the English speaking world see's England as an old realm, somewhere almost ancient compared to where they find themselves in the modern world. The strange thing is, why don't those who used to be The Colonies speak with accents like ours, after all most of them came from here (England). I think the truth is, their accents are probably closer to how we used to speak back then than ours are today....therein lies the irony.

The other possibility is to look at all the accents from the British Isles and put them in a blender and you'll get New World accents. I don't think it should really matter, I enjoyed the American Radio Hobbit without any problem at all, if anything I dislike the visual imagery of the Hildebrandt Musketeer Fellowship more. One only has to look at the brilliant voice characterisation of Nicol Williamson's The Hobbit to know that Dwarves are from the North of England and not Scotland, Gollum is Welsh and the hobbits come from the West Country, so a pat on the back for Sean Astin's marvellous attempt.
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Old 03-30-2012, 04:08 PM   #5
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I have to admit, I think it was the right thing to do when Peter Jackson chose to have his actors use 'broadly' British accents in the LotR films, given that Tolkien himself was British and wrote so much about the development of the English language within this country. It would have been very peculiar to use other accents. I say 'broadly' as not all of them were delivered perfectly and some did sound a tad strangled. And I still find it strange that Pippin, Sam and Frodo all had different accents.

The article mentions A Game Of Thrones (and incorrectly states that the TV series was made for Americans - I suspect not that many have HBO as it's expensive and it was watched just as widely elsewhere) which is slightly different. There was no real reason for that series to feature British accents for the people of Westeros and they could have chosen anything, yet they managed to go even further than Peter Jackson did and have regional accents (one or two examples like Samwell and Sansa aside...).

I wonder if it is like narfforc says, and British accents still have some cachet of being 'old' and more fitting to a faux historic setting?

As for American accents being closer to older British accents, I think there's a Bill Bryson book which has a section about this and I'll have to dig it out. He once wrote about some areas around Chesapeake (islands off the coast...I think) where the locals had accents very similar to Shakesperean English, and about areas in Michigan which had lots of Cornish immigrants and retained some of the culture.
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Old 03-30-2012, 05:49 PM   #6
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historic setting?

...and about areas in Michigan which had lots of Cornish immigrants and retained some of the culture.
In Michigan, The Cornish stock mixed with immigrants from Norway in the state's Upper Peninsula (huge copper mining area), and became what is commonly known here as "Yoopers" (a bastardization of "Upper"). The nearest thing to "dah Yooper" accent is in dat dere movie Fargo, except even more pronounced, yah?
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Old 03-31-2012, 02:02 PM   #7
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Thumbs up

Now you've just reminded me of a film I've not seen in a long, long time, and I'm going to have to dig the DVD out from somewhere and watch Fargo again! Cheers!
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Old 03-31-2012, 03:42 PM   #8
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becahz Britttish ahxents ah cuoohl.
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Old 03-31-2012, 06:22 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
Robin Hood is a bit different, in that it is an English legend; therefore Costner's Midwestern American accent was off (as was his wooden acting). Of course, it could've been worse. You could have had Joe Pesci's New Jersey accent.
It didn't help that, as I recall, his first line was something like "I need English courage now", which really did sound quite funny.

Of course, to echo narrforc's point, the "real" Robin Hood ( if there was such person) wouldn't have had anything like a modern British accent– or even have been speaking modern English. And yet, that kind of thing can indeed be jarring. Perhaps it's that *some* American accents already carry strong associations of their own for most viewers. I mean, if someone looks medieval but sounds like a cowboy, that pretty much does it for suspension of disbelief...
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Old 04-01-2012, 05:39 PM   #10
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It didn't help that, as I recall, his first line was something like "I need English courage now", which really did sound quite funny.

Of course, to echo narrforc's point, the "real" Robin Hood ( if there was such person) wouldn't have had anything like a modern British accent– or even have been speaking modern English. And yet, that kind of thing can indeed be jarring. Perhaps it's that *some* American accents already carry strong associations of their own for most viewers. I mean, if someone looks medieval but sounds like a cowboy, that pretty much does it for suspension of disbelief...
Similar to what I was about to say. British accents (especially RP) tend to be softer and less jarring to the ears. They usually just sound better.

Also, American actors tend to not smooth over their accents unless they are specifically told to. American English really has no special "broadcast" accent (the US equivalent of BBC English) that is used across the board for actors. There used to be one, but it has rather fallen into disuse.

Someone who looks medieval or like something that just stepped out of a fairytale but then sound like they are from Brooklyn/Mississippi/LA is just disconcerting.
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Old 04-02-2012, 03:55 PM   #11
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Similar to what I was about to say. British accents (especially RP) tend to be softer and less jarring to the ears. They usually just sound better.

Also, American actors tend to not smooth over their accents unless they are specifically told to. American English really has no special "broadcast" accent (the US equivalent of BBC English) that is used across the board for actors. There used to be one, but it has rather fallen into disuse.
British actors rarely, if ever, drop their natural accents these days unless the role demands it. Sean Bean is not an exception, our TV and film productions feature people with a full range of British accents (of which there are many). This is possibly as a lot of British people find RP incredibly jarring and difficult (I can barely understand what Tolkien says), possibly as there's simply no need for an actor to lose his/her accent.

It's true you'll not always hear anyone letting fly with a full-on Barnsley, Liverpool or Dundee accent on screen, complete with the local dialect, especially in things with an international audience, but even if gentled in some way accents are still there.

Evene when actors do try to drop the edge off their accent, it never entirely goes. One thing I enjoy about the films of LotR is how I can still tell Bean is from Sheffield and McKellen is from Wigan. I suppose that's just because I am used to hearing British voices though - if you had to get me to tell the difference between say American and Canadian or Aussie and New Zealand, I have to admit I'd be a bit lost.
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:42 PM   #12
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if you had to get me to tell the difference between say American and Canadian
Good luck with that. Considering that both countries have tonns of immigrants from all over the place, I doubt you can have a clear-cut American or Canadian accent. And both are pretty big, so different areas have different accents. Even Bethberry and I have different accents, though you wouldn't say that we talk with an accent!
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Old 04-02-2012, 04:54 PM   #13
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Good luck with that. Considering that both countries have tonns of immigrants from all over the place, I doubt you can have a clear-cut American or Canadian accent. And both are pretty big, so different areas have different accents. Even Bethberry and I have different accents, though you wouldn't say that we talk with an accent!
I feel, at least, a bit less ashamed about my dad asking a woman we said hello to wandering on her own in a Lancashire churchyard last summer: "What are you doing such a long way from America?" She was a bit indignant and said "I am a Canadian!"

I think many British people can't tell the difference between a Lancashire and a Yorkshire accent though, looking at inconsistencies on the regional soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale. Whereas I can often tell which village someone from Lancashire is from.

That's perhaps why I found it a bit jarring that the Hobbits' accents weren't consistent in LotR - a mishmash of 'posh', Scots and generic 'yokel'.
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:15 PM   #14
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I'm completely accent-deaf. I could tell that it's not how I speak, but for my life I wouldn't be able to tell you what accent is it. I've been known to mix Irish and Aussie and Brit and perhaps something else, possibly the "types" of American/Canadian. I recall one time when my family met a couple - he was from New Zealand and she was from Ireland; but before they told us that I thought they were both Brits. Well, you know, I haven't had a Higgins train me!

You have a real talent, Lal, and all others who have the fine ear to hear inconsistencies in LOTR.

As to me, well, I haven't heard them, I probably wouldn't even have noticed if Frodo spoke like your average Torontonian (unless I knew otherwise, which I do), and I think that Brittish accents are more round and are softer on the ear.
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Old 04-02-2012, 05:38 PM   #15
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I'm not entirely accent-deaf. While I may notice the odd difference, I can't really tell you where someone is from (region-wise that is, although I can usually get the country right).

I've lived so many different place I don't really have an accent, although I say certain words in ways that I have picked up here and there.

Canadians do have an accent, even compared to Americans, but it's very subtle, you have to know what you are listening for.
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:21 PM   #16
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Canadians do have an accent, even compared to Americans, but it's very subtle, you have to know what you are listening for.
Eh?

In what is probably my favorite "fantasy" film, this one, the main actors have British accents because that happens to be where most appear to have come from.

Is there really a conscious effort to "Anglicize" the fantasy genre, or is that just a perception? Do filmmakers actively seek out British actors for certain types of movies? Somehow, it doesn't seem like a worthwhile pursuit for such a nebulous goal as adding "loftiness" to a production. Maybe it's more luck of the draw.
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Old 04-02-2012, 07:12 PM   #17
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As a Canadian, I've become slightly more attuned to my own accent since moving to New England, though as a general rule I think western Canadians have accents a bit less distinctive within the family of "broad American" than central Canadians. Nienna watches a lot of home improvement shows (a guilty pleasure I liken unto eating junk food) and there is a GLUT of them made in Ontario--and the Ontario accent stands out: not just against the American accents, but also my own as a western Canadian--which might explain, in part, why you and Bęthberry have different accents, Galadriel66, since I believe she's also a western Canadian in origin.

On the subject of Fantasy and Tolkien, however, I think this is one point where you can see how North America is the major market for the LotR movies, since most of us aren't as attuned to the nuances of accent outside our own ken. Not that I believe everyone in England is a Lalwendë, but there is a much greater blurring of "Englishy" exotic accents in our ears, to the point that we pretty much NEED Gimli to speak Scots just to differentiate him... though I think I'd have preferred him undifferentiated, myself, instead of causing all Dwarves henceforth to be Scottish.
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Old 04-02-2012, 07:44 PM   #18
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...and the Ontario accent stands out: not just against the American accents, but also my own as a western Canadian--which might explain, in part, why you and Bęthberry have different accents, Galadriel66, since I believe she's also a western Canadian in origin.
Yes, that's so. And that also proves the earlier point that you can't have an all-Canadian or all-American accent, since they're too big. But I thought Ontario accents are the same as New England accents. Well, guess not.

Gimli is Scottish? Nice to know. When/if I watch TH (or watch LOTR again) I'll pay attention to how the dwarves talk.
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:20 AM   #19
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I probably don't have the same accent that Formy has, because I was born on the West Coast and when I moved to New Brunswick my grade five teacher was horrified at my language and desperately tried to 'improve' me!

And Gal55 comes from a different language background, so that filters into her language (not that she has an accent).

But of course there are regional variations in Canada. Just listen to an Ottawa Valley burry/berry contrast. Or the Newfie squid-jigging accent. Or Cape Breton's, which is full of archaic scots twists. And Quebec has its joual.

Once we were told by Americans that Canadians have less an accent than a lilt. She actually compared it to an Irish accent, which is interesting because when my Western Canadian cousin went to Yorkshire to learn midwifery, she was constantly being asked if she was Irish, even though her surname is decidedly not Irish (but Slavic).

What's interesting about the accents in Canada (and I wonder if this is also true in the US) is that they tend to be regional rather than class-based, as are Brit accents (although joual was initially a working class accent).

The interesting thing about the accents in the movies is, of course, the fact that Kiwi didn't slip in.
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Old 04-03-2012, 06:38 AM   #20
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On the subject of Fantasy and Tolkien, however, I think this is one point where you can see how North America is the major market for the LotR movies, since most of us aren't as attuned to the nuances of accent outside our own ken. Not that I believe everyone in England is a Lalwendë, but there is a much greater blurring of "Englishy" exotic accents in our ears, to the point that we pretty much NEED Gimli to speak Scots just to differentiate him... though I think I'd have preferred him undifferentiated, myself, instead of causing all Dwarves henceforth to be Scottish.
I'm pretty sure all dwarves were inexplicably Scottish long before that. I don't think you can blame the LotR movies for that particular stereotype. (Laziness in going along with it is another matter, of course.)
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:16 AM   #21
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To quote the MC at the end of Galaxy Quest:

"Alexander Dain, Dr. lazarus. Give him a big hand.
He's British!"
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:49 AM   #22
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The BBC RADIO PLAY Gimli was English. The Ralph Baksi Animated Lord of the Rings Gimli was English. The BBC RADIO PLAY of The Hobbit dwarves were English and Nicol Williamson's Dwarves were English. If you ask me the Gimli accent in Jackson's film was as stupid and fake as the characterisation. The language of Tolkien's Dwarves (Khuzdul) was based on Semitic Languages, which sound nothing like Goidelic (Scottish Gaelic). Most Scottish people speak English accentuated by their mother tongue, so if Gimli had spoken Common Speech/English it should have in fact sounded maybe a little Jewish.
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:12 PM   #23
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The language of Tolkien's Dwarves (Khuzdul) was based on Semitic Languages, which sound nothing like Goidelic (Scottish Gaelic). Most Scottish people speak English accentuated by their mother tongue, so if Gimli had spoken Common Speech/English it should have in fact sounded maybe a little Jewish.
Adűnaic, the language from which the Common Speech derived, was also derived from triliteral roots like the historical Semitic languages. So perhaps Aragorn should have also sounded a little Jewish. Or perhaps he should have sounded a little Arabic, or a little Maltese. So presumably should Frodo and almost everyone. Probably not.

Nor is there one Jewish accent only. What is commonly thought of as “the Jewish accent” by Britons and North Americans is the English accent of German Jews, Ashkenazic Jews. But even when these Jews speak Hebrew (rather than Yiddish), the phonemic structure of their language is much influenced by German. But in Europe, the Sephardic Jews, the Jews of Spain and Portugal, are very common, and their own language is not Yiddish but Ladino, derived mainly from Old Castilian (Spanish) and Old Portuguese, with many borrowings from Turkish, and to a lesser extent from Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and French. The modern Hebrew most in accord with Classical Hebrew is that of the Yemenite Jews which is most like Arabic. The English accents of all three groups of Jews and the English accents of various other sorts of Jews are very different.

Tolkien does not give enough information on any of his languages to allow a reader to more than vaguely guess what accent would be used by a speaker of the language in modern English.

Goidelic languages (and Welsh and Breton) do share with Hebrew, against English, the feature of consonant modification, so it is not true that Hebrew sounds “nothing like Goidelic (Scottish Gaelic)”. And as to accents, English with an Irish accent is as Goidelic as Scots, but the English accents of speakers who natively speak an extreme form of Irish English and Scots English are not much alike.

Accents are too subtle to allow for much guessing.

Tolkien pretends to translate the Common Speech, as spoken by the upper classes of the Shire, into Standard English. He represents the speech of the lower classes of the Shire by including features mostly common to the so-called “lower classes” of Oxford and of Birmingham where he grew up and has the Elves and Gondorian nobility speak a more archaic form of English, but otherwise does not represent accents.

That the Dwarvish names, as purportedly translated, are mostly Old Norse, might suggest that Gimli’s accent should be Norwegian or Icelandic. But, although I don’t much like the films, Scottish seems to me to be good enough in at least suggesting a difference from the more standard English of the other characters.

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Old 04-03-2012, 03:31 PM   #24
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In the film Gimli was pretty clearly a red-head. Irish or Scots wasn't much of a stretch! It doesn't really differentiate the race particularly though because you've also got a Scottish Pippin. The decision to give Gimli such an accent might be related to the fact that John Rhys Davies also played Treebeard and they needed the voices to sound different enough to clearly be two different characters.

There is a very broad range of actors playing the Dwarves in The Hobbit though, so it will be interesting to see what they do accent-wise given they've got a northerner, two Irish chaps, two Scots, a New Zealander ... From the trailer it appears they're just going with however the actor speaks rather than trying to box them all into generic Scottish.
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Old 04-03-2012, 06:08 PM   #25
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Uhm....I thought John Rhys-Davies was Welsh? (Especially considering his surname.)
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Old 04-03-2012, 06:21 PM   #26
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Uhm....I thought John Rhys-Davies was Welsh? (Especially considering his surname.)
Yes, but when he played Gimli in the films he adopted a Scottish accent. Like many (most?) professional actors he has some ability to play parts in accents other than his native accent.
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Old 04-04-2012, 05:56 AM   #27
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The actor may be Welsh but he is most definitely using a Scottish accent as Gimli. I suppose his Treebeard is pretty Welsh-sounding though.
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:14 PM   #28
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The strange thing is, why don't those who used to be The Colonies speak with accents like ours, after all most of them came from here (England).
Assuming you're referring to the USA, the two largest ancestral groups are German and Irish. English comes third.

With so many Americans of non-English descent, I don't think it's surprising that American voices are distinct from English ones.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:26 PM   #29
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No I didn't mean USA.
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Old 04-07-2012, 05:33 PM   #30
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No I didn't mean USA.
Canada and Australia, then?

This seems to be getting off-topic...

Anyway, I still question whether the accents of movie-actors, where the setting is a mythological one, are consciously English. One can find many such films where that isn't the case.
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:17 PM   #31
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In part, the answer for Canada is also the various linguistic natures of the cultural groups--Scots, Irish, Ukrainian, German, Italian, Chinese, First Nations (with their own various languages), Dutch, Polish . Yorkshiremen came to Fort York (Toronto) but the Finns went north to Sudbury.

There is also the issue that even the English immigrants themselves did not come with one overwhelmingly similar accent. Given that accents can change, particularly in London, within mere streets of each other, that means there was no primary accent. Add to that there was no aristocracy which imposed its accent as the proper or authoritative one.

In contrast, Australia has developed its own distinctive accent, although I don't know how consistent it is over the entire continent. Perhaps Australia had less of a multi-cultural influx than Canada and the US? It seems to me to have maintained more distinctly English cultural expressions than Canada has. Australia was the destination for the major deportation of convicts from the UK in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, whereas that stopped for North America after the American Insurrection.

The issue is related to Tolkien's own interest in language change. Look at how he explained the changes in the elven languages, based primarily I think on his argument about the influence of geographical separation in what likely were pre-literate conditions. (Note I'm not saying the Elves weren't literate!) I should go check my copy of BoLT and other HoMes . . . . (And so much of what Tolkien wrote about language has not yet been published.)

As for movie accents in fantasy flicks, perhaps if there is a predominance of English accents that simply reflects the sense that fantasy belongs to early ages, the Medieval world, rather than the modern world. Blade Runner offered an interesting view of language change in an SF context.
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Old 04-08-2012, 07:27 AM   #32
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As for movie accents in fantasy flicks, perhaps if there is a predominance of English accents that simply reflects the sense that fantasy belongs to early ages, the Medieval world, rather than the modern world. Blade Runner offered an interesting view of language change in an SF context.
Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange offers a brilliant use of argot or slang in a dystopian context, as did Orwell in 1984 with Newspeak, the official, acronymal pronouncements of Ingsoc. Victor Hugo in Les Miserables uses argot to great effect in the character Gavroche, who actually epitomizes and introduces the slang that other characters of the lower social orders use.
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Old 04-08-2012, 11:12 AM   #33
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Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange offers a brilliant use of argot or slang in a dystopian context, as did Orwell in 1984 with Newspeak, the official, acronymal pronouncements of Ingsoc. Victor Hugo in Les Miserables uses argot to great effect in the character Gavroche, who actually epitomizes and introduces the slang that other characters of the lower social orders use.
The first two I would agree with; Hugo I can't comment on as I haven't read it in French.

But you raise an interesting point: are you suggesting that dystopian books can be classified as fantasy? I've always rather thought of them more in the SF--science fiction--genre (although I recognise there is also something called "speculative fiction").

And another interesting point: how closely does Tolkien come to dystopian vision? He certainly offers hope, but his orcs could fit in Burgess's book, even with their patois. (Sorry, both of these ruminations are off topic.)

What accents did Shagrat et al have in the movies?
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Old 04-08-2012, 11:50 AM   #34
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The first two I would agree with; Hugo I can't comment on as I haven't read it in French.

But you raise an interesting point: are you suggesting that dystopian books can be classified as fantasy? I've always rather thought of them more in the SF--science fiction--genre (although I recognise there is also something called "speculative fiction").

And another interesting point: how closely does Tolkien come to dystopian vision? He certainly offers hope, but his orcs could fit in Burgess's book, even with their patois. (Sorry, both of these ruminations are off topic.)

What accents did Shagrat et al have in the movies?
I believe sci-fi and fantasy share many of the same attributes, and one only has to watch a movie like Terry Gilliam's Brazil or read Herbert's byzantine recasting of the future in Dune where the lines of sci-fi, dystopia and fantasy are blurred or utterly erased. The same would hold true for an allegory like Orwell's Animal Farm, which could be looked upon as a modern dystopian version of the medieval Reynard the Fox. And sci-fi is merely future fantasy, isn't it? I mean, really, George Lucas borrowed Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces as a blueprint for Star Wars, and created a futuristic monomyth. Just replace the lightsabers with broadswords, Darth Vader with an evil wizard, and Jabba the Hut with an ogre, and voile': Luke Skywalker goes on "The Hero's Journey" with Obi-Wan Kenobi as the stereotypical wise mentor.

Tolkien's dystopia lies in the industrial destruction of the Shire by Sharkey that runs along the lines of Blake's Satanic Mills in England's green and pleasant land, or in the bleak desolation of Mordor with the brooding hordes of broken orcs ruminating among the rack and ruin. Or perhaps in the Saruman's Orthanc, which has become, for all intents and purposes, a Stalinist armament factory with its collective of subservient orcs (not that Tolkien used such allegory, mind).

Shagrat really had no discernible accent, did he? It was more guttural grunts, with perhaps a bit of stock pirate undertones.
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:59 PM   #35
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I believe sci-fi and fantasy share many of the same attributes, and one only has to watch a movie like Terry Gilliam's Brazil or read Herbert's byzantine recasting of the future in Dune where the lines of sci-fi, dystopia and fantasy are blurred or utterly erased. The same would hold true for an allegory like Orwell's Animal Farm, which could be looked upon as a modern dystopian version of the medieval Reynard the Fox. And sci-fi is merely future fantasy, isn't it? I mean, really, George Lucas borrowed Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces as a blueprint for Star Wars, and created a futuristic monomyth. Just replace the lightsabers with broadswords, Darth Vader with an evil wizard, and Jabba the Hut with an ogre, and voile': Luke Skywalker goes on "The Hero's Journey" with Obi-Wan Kenobi as the stereotypical wise mentor.
I think there's a continuum between the two extremes of science and mythology (for want of better descriptors) which encompasses all Speculative Fiction, some leaning more towards one end than the other, so it doesn't surprise me that Tolkien was interested also in those writers/works usually referred to as science fiction, such as Issac Asimov.

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Tolkien's dystopia lies in the industrial destruction of the Shire by Sharkey that runs along the lines of Blake's Satanic Mills in England's green and pleasant land, or in the bleak desolation of Mordor with the brooding hordes of broken orcs ruminating among the rack and ruin. Or perhaps in the Saruman's Orthanc, which has become, for all intents and purposes, a Stalinist armament factory with its collective of subservient orcs (not that Tolkien used such allegory, mind).
Certainly the dystopian elements are present in Tolkien. But what you have really got me wondering about is whether he is acknowledged by dystopian writers as an influence, as those who write more directly in the fantasy vein acknowledge him. I can think of many, many discussion here and elsewhere which examine Tolkien's influence in fantasy, but off hand I can't think of any that examine the debt of the dystopians to him.

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Shagrat really had no discernible accent, did he? It was more guttural grunts, with perhaps a bit of stock pirate undertones.
I think Tolkien was responsible for a few "Nars". But don't they, in the book, have almost a bit of the wiff of working class blokes with their ready condemnation of the powers that be and their calling Shelob her "Ladyship" ? I wouldn't push this speculation, as it's their atttitude that is highlighted, a dearth of elegance, civility, compassion and a heavy dose of self-centeredness and cruelty and I certainly don't mean to imply that Tolkien harboured class snobbery.

It might be fun to compare their speech with Tolkien's criticism of modern English to see if there is any linguistic similarity.
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Old 04-12-2012, 06:05 AM   #36
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Old 04-19-2012, 08:15 PM   #37
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I mean, if someone looks medieval but sounds like a cowboy, that pretty much does it for suspension of disbelief...
As in how the Saxons sounded like they came from west Texas in this awful movie? I wonder why they made Skarsgĺrd speak in that manner...

Language is symbolic. It helps set a tone along with time and place in the minds of the audience. The Eagle is one example of movie makers choosing to make the Romans speak with an American accent, an unusual choice with a symbolic and political motivation to compare the US to the Roman Empire.
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:49 PM   #38
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About Gimli and the Scottish accent...it's not pitch perfect by a long way, he slips into Welsh at times.

One example is in this deleted scene. When he says "last one standing wins" there's more than a touch of Welsh. Shut your eyes and it could be a gruff Anthony Hopkins.

Now, why do people associate British accents with anything that has a 'medieval' feel? Could that have something to do with the enduring influence of Shakespeare? Readers view Shakespeare as representing Ye Olde England and he is their primary touching point for non-contemporary English usage. Hmmm?
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Old 05-04-2012, 09:44 PM   #39
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Now, why do people associate British accents with anything that has a 'medieval' feel? Could that have something to do with the enduring influence of Shakespeare? Readers view Shakespeare as representing Ye Olde England and he is their primary touching point for non-contemporary English usage. Hmmm?
Tempting as that theory is, I think it would be easy to overstate the influence of the Bard in that way.

I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that in the English speaking world the cultural antecedents during the middle ages were largely in England.
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Old 05-05-2012, 11:53 AM   #40
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Now, why do people associate British accents with anything that has a 'medieval' feel? Could that have something to do with the enduring influence of Shakespeare? Readers view Shakespeare as representing Ye Olde England and he is their primary touching point for non-contemporary English usage. Hmmm?
Tempting as that theory is, I think it would be easy to overstate the influence of the Bard in that way.

I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that in the English speaking world the cultural antecedents during the middle ages were largely in England.
Possibly, although there are large pockets of the English speaking world that also include other medieval cultures, such as the strong influence of French in Canada.
But there are in fact a great many summer theatres over here that are devoted to Shakespeare, not exclusively maybe, but with a primary focus. We even have a Shakespeare in the Park summer group. Certainly he is taught in schools whereas Chaucer and, for instance, John Milton are not.

There is another hugely influential form of Renaissance English that might still be well known here and which connotes "old English" or "old tymes" and that is the King Jame Bible. There are many English speaking Protestants here (well, at least in Canada) who still consider the KJB to be the superior translation to the myriad modern ones.

And for anyone into New Age stuff, one of the influential books is A Course in Miracles, in which a psychology professor alleges to channel a new message from Jesus. And it's entirely in a mishmash of KJB English. That might not be a hugely popular cultural influence but I think it suggests how strong is the nostalgic sentiment for old forms of the language as representative of something "not modern", not secular, not of the rational materialist perspective.

Just a suggestion (as I'm not a New Ager).
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