Tag Archives: dialects in film

“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

Share

Posted in American English | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Henry Higgins, Language Snob

The classic musical My Fair Lady is on TV right now, and I am puzzling over Henry Higgins (I have shared my thoughts about the character before). If he obsesses over dialects so much, why does he hate non-standard English? Lerner and Loewe … Continue reading

Share

Posted in British English | Tagged , | 3 Comments

“Oy,” “Bollocks” and Other Trick Words

In an episode of HBO’s The Newsroom, Emily Mortimer’s character addresses coworkers with a frustrated “oy!” Mortimer does not play a Brooklyn grandmother; “oy” [or “oi“] is a British term roughly similar to American English “hey!”* I would assume the show’s American writer, … Continue reading

Share

Posted in British English | Tagged | 12 Comments

Stray Thoughts on Theatrical Accent Traditions

Slate ran a recent piece on the history of women playing Peter Pan onstage. This got me thinking about other theatrical or filmic traditions with regards to fictional characters. In particular, should we question why certain characters are played in … Continue reading

Share

Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged | 19 Comments

The Van Dyke Controversy

Disney’s 1964 Mary Poppins adaptation has been in the news lately, in light of both film’s 50th anniversary and Saving Mr. Banks, a new film about the contentious relationship between Walt Disney and Anglo-Australian “Poppins” creator P. L. Travers. Of … Continue reading

Share

Posted in British English | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

The Death of Drama School Accent Enforcement

Although I enjoy the series Downton Abbey, I know little about the personal lives of its cast members. So the other day, after watching a program on PBS, I was startled by a promo interview with the actress who plays … Continue reading

Share

Posted in British English | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Jane Austen’s English

A reader recently wrote me with a question about the language in Jane Austen’s novels: I see you’ve talked a little about accent in Shakespeare’s time, but do we know how English people sounded during the Regency era? I think … Continue reading

Share

Posted in British English | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Lincoln’s “Anachronisms”

[UPDATE: Benjamin Schmidt has an excellent in-depth response in the comments which is well worth reading. He also has an FAQ on his website that answers a number of questions about his process.] I am obviously fascinated by historical dialects … Continue reading

Share

Posted in American English | Tagged , | 7 Comments

“You is Smart:” Dialect Gripes About “The Help”

The other day, a Twitter pal mentioned a certain discomfort while reading Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. Apropos of this blog, it seems there are a number of complaints about the author’s (arguably) shaky command of African American Vernacular English, a … Continue reading

Share

Posted in American English | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

The Cockney v/w Mystery

When I think of ‘Cockney,’ my mind goes to gritty 1960’s tough guy films: Poor Cow, Get Carter, that kind of thing. That is, I imagine something like the hilarious ‘duelling Michael Caines’ from the Michael Winterbottom comedy The Trip: We … Continue reading

Share

Posted in British English | Tagged , , | 15 Comments