In news of the dialect work of movie stars, the romantic comedy One Day opens soon. As I did with Mel Gibson’s accent in The Beaver, I’d like to briefly examine Anne Hathaway‘s “Yorkshire accent” in this adaptation of the popular novel. Here’s the trailer:
[Ed. Note: Writing this originally, I was unaware there were several clips from the film online. Having watched two of these, I have to say: I’m pretty impressed. Compare this clip to this clip from later in the film. She clearly makes the latter sound less “Northern” than the former, which is a pretty darn nuanced thing for an actor to do.]
You’ll notice I put “Yorkshire accent” in quotation marks. To me, this phrase makes as much sense as referring to a “Northeastern accent” in the United States. We’re talking about a large tract of the country with numerous dialects which, although similar, have some serious differences as well (e.g. some are rhotic, some are non-rhotic).
With that in mind, I can’t reliably assess Hathaway’s accent. I’m not quite sure where she’s supposed to be from. Her character is described in various synopses as a “working-class” girl working hard to get an education and “better herself.” That would suggest someone inclined to soften the marked regionalisms in their accent, complicating my impression of the dialect work here.
In terms of generally “Northern” English features, she seems consistent with the raising of words like “touched” and “but.” Pretty much all other features of Northern English vary, however, so I won’t comment on other aspects of her accent.
Of course, the film’s release will no doubt prompt a number of ill-informed rants, editorials and hatchet jobs. To which I’d say: give Hathaway a break. I can’t pinpoint which type of Yorkshire accent she’s supposed to be using here, but I didn’t find it overly distracting or “American”-sounding. I’ll reserve my judgements until I see the actual movie (which looks kind of cute, no?)
What do we think?