9 thoughts on “The Transatlantic Accent”

  1. Nope. Archibald Leach came from the British lower class. He went directly from grammar school to vaudeville. His accent was his own invention, along with the name “Cary Grant.”

      1. I think it’s more of a silent-film ethic. Many of the directors from that period started in silents, and the influence often showed up in later films. Most famously in the first few minutes of “Rio Bravo” or “Wagonmaster.”

        The techniques are still used frequently in animation. If you haven’t seen “Feast,” I recommend it highly:


  2. A surprising meme that emerged three or so years ago is that American and British accents diverged around 1775, but it was the British accent that changed and became what it is today. Prior to 1775, our common accents were closer to what they are today (more like a southern accent, in fact, according to some linguists).

    The real mystery, then, is how did all of the Romans speak with today’s British accent, as every movie or TV show about them shows that they did? (A corollary mystery is how that became Italian…)

    1. Imperialist nations automatically start speaking the Queen’s English.

      It’s a little-known corollary of string theory.

      By another corollary, when they lose their Empire their language evolves into Italian. Which leaves the question: Why aren’t the English speaking in Italian yet?

    2. That’s not that new an idea. In study of Shakespeare in performance, for example, it’s long been said that his language should sound much more Irish/Southern (particularly Appalachian) than modern Received Pronunciation.

      1. Because they have a tradition of plays and acting in plays going back to Shakespeare, and aging British actors willing to say stuff like “these are not the ‘droids you’re looking for” or “your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjour up the stolen data tapes” without sounding completely stupid are willing to work for cheap . . .

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