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Author Topic: Accents  (Read 674 times)

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Offline ElinaTopic starter

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Accents
« on: October 18, 2012, 07:01:01 PM »
Okay, I never look in this board, but something I heard discussed on the radio this morning was kind of interesting.  How come you can speak with a fake British or Australian accent, and nobody thinks twice about it, but if you fake a Chinese or Indian (or really most any Asian) accent, it's offensive?  Any insight?


Offline Koren

Re: Accents
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2012, 07:40:14 PM »
Im an Aussie, born and raised here, and you have no idea the amount of time that my fellow Aussies as me if I come from NZ because my accent is so fluid. When i spell I speak with a strong American accent, or when I am explaining something, and when I have high emotion I slip into a british accent for no reason at all.

I think part of it is is that I dont get bagged for it because its western accents coming from a western person. These days political correctness has gone so far that to have any cross over between east and west is seen as offensive. A white guy cant cosplay as a black character for example without being 'incorrect' and 'offensive'.

With accents as well I think part of the thing is that often fake accents are used in an offensive way, especially chinese, and I've had to pull a lot of people up for using accents as a way to make people sound stupid or retarded. The same as all fake british accents seem to quite posh and uptight, most chinese accents that are made tend to lean toward derogitory, so people don't see the difference between the times when it is offensive and when it is a joke.

Thats my take on it anyway

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Accents
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 07:58:36 PM »
There are so many negative connotations in old movies, stage and television plays where non-Western accents and physiognomy are caricatured I think it carries over into today's actions.  It takes a lot of work to portray Asian and Indian accents correctly along with any number of other accents but nearly anyone who is Western can carry off some sort of dialectic Western accent.  I've seen some Asians portray white people and do it well but also some who were so bad I felt sorry for them.  I don't think I'd ever take it as an insult unless it were someone ridiculing another person or culture.

Offline Water Lilly

Re: Accents
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2012, 08:16:43 PM »
I'm yet to hear a good fake Aussie accent....

Offline Mitsu

Re: Accents
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2012, 08:23:11 PM »
 I believe there is generally a more negative connotation associated with putting on an Asian accent. Typically, immigrant, Asian minorities have an issue with speaking English correctly. It isn't that they don't understand the language, but rather certain sounds get mixed up. Intolerant types tend to belittle the intelligence of these people, because of this. This is rather common place, and isn't something that is exclusive to Asians. Anyone with a thick accent that has trouble with pronouncing English words is typically met with prejudice, impatience, and intolerance on a weekly, if not daily, basis. So, when one decides to mimic an Asian accent, it is often seen in a poor light, because an Asian person is often mocked in the very same way. A person will put on an exaggerated Asian accent, and mock the poor fellow (often behind their backs).

 Now, a British or Australian accent is normally spoken in English. There's no feelings of sympathy. It simply isn't thought of, because both the British and Australians speak English naturally-- they're apart of the club. They know English, so there aren't any frustrations over a language barrier.

 However, this is not to make light of the issue at all. People will make fun of any accent for any given reason. Sometimes it's light-hearted, and other times it isn't. We just have a tendency, as a whole, to mock or ridicule the things that aren't normal relative to our own culture.

 What Beguile's Mistress as written above also factors heavily into this as well, I believe.
 

Offline Missy

Re: Accents
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2012, 08:25:55 PM »
I'm yet to hear a good fake Aussie accent....

I grew up in the states, I've never left the country, never lived anywhere else. One time someone seriously asked me if I was Australian.

Offline Water Lilly

Re: Accents
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2012, 04:07:54 AM »
Betcha it wasn't an Aussie who asked! ;)

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Accents
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2012, 04:19:08 AM »
Some of the people who seem the most fussy about accents are film fans. You get to hear sometimes about pictures where people like Nicole Kidman, Bruce Willis or Natalie Portman are doing a part that requires a specific accent and they get decried by fans who think it all went wrong.Portman got a good deal of flak for the way she spoke in V for Vendetta, where her girl has an English accent; I couldn't hear anything very foul about it. Maybe it was a little bit sharper on the consonants than BE mostly is, but people in any area do talk differently, there's a range - and yes, I do know what 'ordinary' Aussie, NZ, California or cockney accents sound like.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Accents
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2012, 04:41:41 AM »
I think the difference between say an American accent and a British or Australian accent is just a matter of *how* things are said, while typically, when people use a fake Asian or Indian accent there is usually some negative connotation associated - such as poking fun at misunderstandings and misuses of certain words or phrases.

With Asian accents, people usually poke fun at mistakes which are "unconventional", yet "logically" correct ( thus innocently humorous).  For example, saying "I want you terrible." instead of "I want you badly." or "You look like a crap" instead of "You look like shit." I had a boss who used to pluralise "rice" or make "peas" singular. ie. - "A bowl of rices", or "a bowl of pea."

With Indian accents there is usually some level of bitterness or frustration involved. Many times you'll hear people griping about telephone support people who they need help from but can't understand, and invasive telemarketers with strong Indian accents who constantly call to sell you crap or try and survey you while you're busy doing other important things... like looking at porn ;p
« Last Edit: October 19, 2012, 06:51:36 PM by TaintedAndDelish »

Offline Tamhansen

Re: Accents
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2012, 04:49:18 AM »
Actually I believe it is not entirely true. Take stand up comedy as an example. If say Chris rock does a Chinese accent the Chinese laugh their asses off, if ray Romano does the same they're pissed. Now that could of course just be because ray's as funny as a gangrene infection, but more than likely it's something to do with the weird view on racism.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Accents
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2012, 04:52:41 AM »

With Indian accents there is usually some level of bitterness or frustration involved. Many times you'll hear people griping about telephone support people who they need help from but can't understand, and invasive telemarketers with strong Indian accents who constantly call to sell you crap or try and survey you while you're busy doing other important things... like looking at porn ;p

There's also a bit of hypercorrectness in the way some Indians speak English, it can sound like they really want to get everything in the right place and with speed - and that makes phrases like "I want you terrible" come out more glaring of course. While no one would react that way to "I want you heaps" spoken by a northern English native.

Really knowing English well is still a bit of a class marker in India, and some educated Indians used to feel that English was the language of the old overlord. I've heard people who were on the road in India around 1960 pointing out how strange it seemed to hear young Indians who had attended boarding schools in England or India and who spoke grammatically flawless English with a touch of RP lambasting the British empire and its lingering bonds on India in this same vintage English.  ;)

Online Lilias

Re: Accents
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2012, 04:52:54 AM »
Throw fake African and Caribbean accents into the mix as well (they are more likely to appear over here, though, than over there). Considering that the faker is likely to be an 'imperial', it's easy to be seen as patronising the 'colonials' by talking down to them.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Accents
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2012, 05:00:00 AM »
I know this is a tad off topic, but one of my co-workers who is from India pointed out that over there they speak a bunch of different languages - that their native languages divide the country communication-wise, while English tends to serve as more of a common language. You could go into the next town ( or whatever they call it ) and not have a clue what anyone is saying unless you know English.


Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Accents
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2012, 05:10:24 AM »
I know this is a tad off topic, but one of my co-workers who is from India pointed out that over there they speak a bunch of different languages - that their native languages divide the country communication-wise, while English tends to serve as more of a common language. You could go into the next town ( or whatever they call it ) and not have a clue what anyone is saying unless you know English.

True, and that goes for literature too. India has something like twenty or thirty big languages (excepting English and adding sanskrit which long since stopped being an everyday spoken language but still is used for writing about religion and philosophy) with major output in them of fiction, essays and newspapers, but English serves as a crossroads for getting through to an "all-Indian" audience and for transferring influences and discussion onto the national arena. Some writers translate their own work into English, book fairs and literary magazines are often run in English.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Accents
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2012, 12:06:38 PM »
Some of the people who seem the most fussy about accents are film fans. You get to hear sometimes about pictures where people like Nicole Kidman, Bruce Willis or Natalie Portman are doing a part that requires a specific accent and they get decried by fans who think it all went wrong.Portman got a good deal of flak for the way she spoke in V for Vendetta, where her girl has an English accent; I couldn't hear anything very foul about it. Maybe it was a little bit sharper on the consonants than BE mostly is, but people in any area do talk differently, there's a range - and yes, I do know what 'ordinary' Aussie, NZ, California or cockney accents sound like.

I've heard this sort of criticism before and it often makes me laugh because most actors spend months working with professional learning the correction inflections and pronunciations when they need to do an accent.  Makes no difference what the nationality of the actor is or the character.  I've checked up on the background for some and in nearly every case there has been coaching.  Interviews with the actor and another person from the country represented have been done and to the untrained ear there is litt difference in way the two spoke.

Offline Stattick

Re: Accents
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2012, 01:57:50 PM »
Why does the new Sherlock Holmes have an American accent?

Offline Oniya

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Re: Accents
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2012, 03:51:40 PM »
Which new Sherlock Holmes?  The one I've heard most recently sounds fine to me.

Offline Stattick

Re: Accents
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2012, 06:05:15 PM »
Robert Downey Jr.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Accents
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2012, 06:11:06 PM »
Yeah, don't know about him.  I think they were re-writing the character as an American in that movie.  I much prefer Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Accents
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2012, 09:49:55 PM »
One of the funniest examples of the wrong accent has to be Kevin Costner's very American-sounding Robin Hood - who declares in one of the first scenes: "This is English courage!"  :D

Offline Silk

Re: Accents
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2012, 09:31:28 AM »
Theres no imitated australian accent's just imitations of rolf harris or steve irwin.

Kind of the big difference I geuss, is the accent from the populace or a person.

Offline Water Lilly

Re: Accents
« Reply #21 on: October 22, 2012, 02:52:18 AM »
O......kay...??

Offline consortium11

Re: Accents
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2012, 11:18:57 AM »
It's essentially a matter of privilege. While there are obviously going to be examples of it on the whole British and Australian sounding people are very rarely persecuted or mocked for their accent... and when they are it is often overtly done in a good-natured manner. In contrast there has been a long history of the malicious mocking of other accents (combined with other acts of prejudice).

So in essence yes, it's a double standard... but it's also an understandable one.