LINGUIST List 5.422

Wed 13 Apr 1994

Disc: Accents

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Directory

  1. *IPrA, Re: 5.417 Accents: Southern and British
  2. , Southern speech
  3. Fran Karttunen, Re: 5.417 Accents: Southern and British
  4. mark, Re: Accents
  5. Margaret M. Fleck, dialect imitation
  6. Paul T Kershaw, Southern accent bias
  7. , Re: 5.417 Accents: Southern and British

Message 1: Re: 5.417 Accents: Southern and British

Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 13:01:00 Re: 5.417 Accents: Southern and British
From: *IPrA <iprareks.uia.ac.be>
Subject: Re: 5.417 Accents: Southern and British

About British versus American accents. We could extend the range of our
funny enquiry somewhat further. Being a continental European who speaks
English only as his fourth language, but whose local TV stations present
up to seventy percent English-spoken programs, it has always struck me
that the bad guy in movies very often speaks either a British version of
English (when the good guy is American), or a nonnative-continental
European version, when the good guy is James Bond. Think of how the
casting of Dutch-born actors Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Crabbe may reflect
this intuitive character-stereotyping. Extending it even further: what
about the speech accents of people from outer space in movies? It would
be hard to imagine a Martian talking in a New York or Alabama phonology,
wouldn't it. Yes, yes, it's really socially commited fun thinking about
things like this.
Jan Blommaert
IPrA Research Center (Antwerp, Belgium)
iprareks.uia.ac.be
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Message 2: Southern speech

Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 09:00:43 Southern speech
From: <CONNOLLYmemstvx1.memst.edu>
Subject: Southern speech

You're right to note that the national media often misrepresent and/or
misinterpret southern speech.

But two of the examples cited by Michael Picone are out of place --
he's misinterpreting things himself.

First of all, southerners are every bit as willing to talk about the
"Bubba vote" or the "redneck vote" as anyone else is. Why not? It's
real, after all, as any southern politician knows. Besides, as great
numbers of people here in Memphis cheerfully admit, Memphis is grateful
for Mississippi and Arkansas because these states give us something to
look down at.

Second, unless I am misinformed, Cokie Roberts is the daughter of the
former congresspersons Hale Boggs and (Cindy?) Boggs of Louisiana. If
she says someone's Mississippi drawl is unintelligible, I guess she
ought to know -- and she's certainly entitled to say so. After living in
Memphis since 1975, I still have a lot of trouble understanding some older
white southerners, who may or may not be native Memphians. I think I may
do better with older blacks here, perhaps because they're more willing to
slow down for an outsider.

Leo A. Connolly Foreign Languages & Literatures Memphis State University
Internet: connollymsuvx1.memst.edu Bitnet: connollymemstvx1
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Message 3: Re: 5.417 Accents: Southern and British

Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 09:07:12 Re: 5.417 Accents: Southern and British
From: Fran Karttunen <LIAR457orange.cc.utexas.edu>
Subject: Re: 5.417 Accents: Southern and British


Cokie Roberts is from New Orleans and can, I think, poke fun at the
speech of a neighbor Mississippian with more mordant wit than could
a New Yorker or Angelino. And nobody spends more time talking
about the politics and taste of bubbas and their consort bubbettes
than Texans and their neighbors. Surely NPR can be taken to task
on bigger issues??? They have to my mind a terriffic record of
putting southern writers and commentators on the air.

Fran Karttunen
Austin, Texas
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Message 4: Re: Accents

Date: Tue, 12 Apr 94 10:34:39 ESRe: Accents
From: mark <markdragonsys.com>
Subject: Re: Accents

Mike Picone writes:

 While it is true that when Meryl Streep tries to imitate a
 Polish accent, for example, there are relatively few people,
 other than linguists, who are listening while undertaking
 meta-accentual monitoring, this is not true when it comes to
 the portrayal of Southern speech habits. Untold numbers of
 Southerners are, despite themselves, very much aware of the
 artificiallity that, for them, is injected into a film when
 non-Southerners attempt to mimic their speech.

Somewhat apart from the issue of derogation that he was leading
into, I have the sense that naive native speakers of a dialect are
generally much more able to detect an imitation than most (even
trained) non-native ears are. Furthermore, the closer the
imitation, the funnier it sounds, for reasons that the natives
cannot explain even when they recover their breath from laughing.
Is it reasonable to expect an actor to be able to put on an accent
in a way that will satisfy natives?

 Mark A. Mandel
 Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
 320 Nevada St. : Newton, Mass. 02160, USA : markdragonsys.com
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Message 5: dialect imitation

Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 17:04:07 dialect imitation
From: Margaret M. Fleck <mfleckbolivar.cs.uiowa.edu>
Subject: dialect imitation


A cautionary note about "parodies" of various accents: remember that
most people (particularly non-linguists) are quite bad at
distinguishing accents very different from their own. It seems very
likely that the imitators can't hear the difference between what they
are producing and the real thing.

Margaret Fleck
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Message 6: Southern accent bias

Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 16:15:27 Southern accent bias
From: Paul T Kershaw <kershawpstudent.msu.edu>
Subject: Southern accent bias

I remember seeing a few years back a series of commercials featuring children
sorting through their Kellogg's (?) cereal variety packs. It struck me at the
time that the youth featured in one commercial, speaking with a distinctively
Southern drawl, had a method of sorting which characterized him as
significantly unintelligent or at the very least ignorant (in the traditional
sense of the word: lacking knowledge). Another spot featured an
African-American youth of about the same age, with a significantly more
intelligent (albeit still "humorous") sorting method. It further struck me
that, a few decades ago, in a similar spot, the African-American youth most
probably would have been given the Southern-speaking youth's lines. In short,
by responding to allegations of racism (or trying to avoid same), the company
has simply shifted which group it is biasing against. (Political Correctness,
in its extremist form, only protects certain prestige minorities, and Southern
whites, as with many other groups, do not fall into this prestigious
prestige-lacking group.) {Disclaimer: I think PC in its original form is a
wonderful and necessary thing; I am referring to the oppressive form it is
taking in certain venues.} Asides aside, this company at least doesn't seem to
be getting the point of avoiding prejudicially oriented advertising.
-- Paul Kershaw, from the same place as Dennis Preston,
Kershawpstudent.msu.edu
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Message 7: Re: 5.417 Accents: Southern and British

Date: Tue, 12 Apr 1994 21:46:21 Re: 5.417 Accents: Southern and British
From: <WFKINGCCIT.ARIZONA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 5.417 Accents: Southern and British

Isn't Cokie Roberts from the South? She probably knows an uncomprehensible
accent by now, having worked in Washington for years. Would you be so upset
if a New Yorker were to say that a speaker of Brookynese could not be
understood? By the way, there are quite a few recent arrivals from Poland
living in the Northeast.
Bill King Univ. of Arizona
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