Author Archives: Ben

About Ben

Ben T. Smith launched his dialect fascination while working in theatre. He has worked as an actor, playwright, director, critic and dialect coach. Other passions include linguistics, urban development, philosophy and film.


Apologies for the light activity around here for the past year. I’ve been extremely busy for some time, and as such, my posting rate has slowed greatly. In lieu of going long stretches without explanation, I’ve decided to take an official break from blogging for the … Continue reading

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Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Break

“Fillum” in England

Two commenters recently pointed out that fillum (i.e. fɪləm), a quintessentially Irish pronunciation of film, can also be heard in England. Many assume fillum‘s origins to be Irish–along with similar pronunciations of words like helm (“hellum”)–because in certain contexts the Irish language inserts … Continue reading


Posted in Irish English | Tagged | 6 Comments

Irish Linguistic Diversity

A few weeks back, Stan Carey responded to a “most attractive accent” survey which crowned Southern Ireland the most irresistible English. Anyone with a modest familiarity with Irish accents will recognize what’s odd about the survey’s map of sociolinguistic magnetism, which unequivocally treats Donegal as … Continue reading


Posted in Irish English, Uncategorized | Tagged | 10 Comments

Subtitled For American Consumption

I’ve recently discussed the work of filmmaker Ken Loach with longtime commenter Ed. Loach is one of the few filmmakers I recall who commits to featuring local accents in all his films. He often casts non-actors in his movies, resulting in … Continue reading


Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

Accent Prejudice Isn’t “Prejudice Lite”

I’m hesitant to respond to Gawker‘s “Ugliest Accent” tournament. For those who haven’t read it, the piece is a “March-Madness-style” competition to determine America’s “ugliest” regional English. (Pittsburg was crowned the winner last week.) I’m clearly no fan, but Josef Fruehwald offers great critiques … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged | 32 Comments

Scotland, Borders, Secession and Language

Scotland’s vote against independence prompted me to consider how I, as an American, distinguish the UK’s component parts. When I envision Scotland (or Wales, or England), I think of a unique language. Not Scots or Gaelic, necessarily, but “language” in a broader sense. It’s a … Continue reading


Posted in British English | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

John Oliver and Contemporary Brumminess

Like many HBO subscribers, I’ve become a fan of John Oliver, a British comedian who brings journalistic rigor to the “news parody” genre. He particularly excels at trans-Atlantic humor, injecting British wit into American jokes (“you’ve constructed a straw-man so … Continue reading


Posted in British English | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Iggy Azalea and Ethnolect Appropriation

A few years back, I was talking to an Irish musician about the American blues. I found it strange that British and Irish musicians, particularly those honing their chops in the 1960s, seemed more taken with the form than Americans. “Well,” the … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

“Fargo” Redux: Dialect Work in TV’s Renaissance

When Fargo was released in 1996, “Minnesota speech” was largely unknown to the majority of the American populace. With a handful of exceptions, the dialect had little representation in popular culture. The film’s appeal lies not only in the quality of … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Australian Broad-A

Speaking of Shane Jenek/Courtney Act (the Australian drag queen that served as the topic of my last post), I noticed that he uses a “short-a” in words like dance, France, and demand. That is, Jenek pronounces “dance” with the same vowel as … Continue reading


Posted in Australian English | Tagged , | 25 Comments