Wednesday, April 16, 2008

don't fence me in

I was listening to the access accents CD for General American which I picked up in Oxford several months ago. The dialect coach's account of how a Brit gets to grips with this accent (sorry for lazy uncapitalized unpunctuated transcription, was going to clean it up but if it waits for housekeeping it will spend a long time in the drafts folder):

so when you’re in the states and you’re on the east coast you’re looking out across the atlantic to the old homeland and the british isles

the minute you turn your back on the east and you face towards the pacific you’re obviously not going to be thinking about little old england or little old british isles or europe you’re sort of starting to head out and look west and across the pacific to what is offered there so my feeling is when the pioneers really started to move form east to west and started to settle the wst which was sort of from the early 1800s onwards the further west they travelled the wider the horizons and the more spread out and open the landscape became so the vowels widened and flattened and the words rolled into each so the more in a way the more atypically American the voices became and then you can start hear where those influences in Texas and California start come from

if you look at america it’s huge it’s a hell of a size isn’t it
and if you look at americans they allow themselves to spread, release, relax, there’s a lot of air under the armpits, you know the english people always work from the elbows have you ever noticed that, it’s because there’s so many of us in such a small country so we do everything like we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves
but the american will put that air under the armpits use the whole arms gesticulate and generally take up space

and so in a way before you start doing the accent i think you have to think like that

(gives new meaning to 'divided by a common language' )


Jenny Davidson said...


Anonymous said...

People at Harvard have a particular problem it seema with people who fake or take on British accents. It is like one of their favorite pieces of gossip about people they dislike ("did you hear that girl from Hong Kong had a perfectly American acccent the first month of Freshman year and then she switched to be all british") It's like the piece of hateful gossip second only to "she got here off the waiting list, you know."
I wonder why the hate.