the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero

A little something for Jack


Maybe to some of you this might sound weird coming from an American, but in the course of conversations with Jack Yan I mentioned that some actors coming from outside the U.S. sound really strange when they use a General American accent.  "General American", by definition, does not have regional inflections in tone, so I laugh when international audiences say it sounds plain.  That's because it is!

It's supposed to have origins in a certain section of the Midwest that includes parts of Iowa and South Dakota.  It migrated westward to the West Coast, including California and the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and parts of Montana) but plenty of Midwesterns say I talk funny.  Whatever.  They're influenced by the Inland North dialect, which occasionally pops up on American television.

Anyways, a few celebrities in particular I've mentioned that sound strained using General American, and some I've thought of recently:

Lucy Lawless.  Of course, the first instance of her using was for Xena: Warrior Princess.  She uses a strange sultry tone that sounds like it belongs in the bedroom.  Funny, there was an Adam Sandler movie I saw recently– Bedtime Stories, I think it was, where it fit a little better.  But it sounds so… unnatural.  I look forward to seeing those parts where she's allowed to use her native Kiwi accent, and not something that sounds contrived and unnatural.

Christian Bale.   He's a very focused and dedicated actor, but he still seems strained using a General American accent.  I haven't seen any roles yet where his Welch accent is allowed to be unrestrainted– it's all interviews, publicity, etc.

Liam Neeson.  This should have been a "duh", really, but I recently realized that the reason why his voice sounded peculiar to me was that his General American is just a very clipped Irish brogue.  I'm not familiar with much of his work before Darkman so if anyone has a clip of him where that brogue is unrestrained, I'd appreciate it.

There are probably others, but these actors just stand out in particular to me.

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Author: jaklumen

Wherever you see "jaklumen", that's me- the username is still unique as of the current year. Be aware that the facet you see, is only a small part of the me that is me.

13 thoughts on “A little something for Jack

  1. I'd add Hugh Laurie as well. Quite a difference from Jeeves and Wooster.


  2. A long time ago in broadcaster's school, men were taught to sound like they were from Kansas City. But in KC, people always wondered if I was from somewhere else. My accent wasn't really different, though, I just had a formal manner to my speech. Slight Asperger's, probably, not that it matters now.


  3. I wouldn't, simply because I've heard the difference, and Laurie's American accent seems a little more natural.


  4. Ah, yes, thank you, Lena Headey was someone I was thinking of as well but couldn't remember at the time of this post. Incidentally I also thought she sounded strange and similarly strained; seeing her interviewed by Craig Ferguson confirmed it for me. (I wasn't aware at the time she was English.) Oddly enough, though, I hadn't noticed anything peculiar about Russell Crowe, but perhaps I don't know what to listen for.I caught an interview of Yvonne Strahovski where she was explaining the words she had trouble on, but I agree, she's got it down fairly well pat. Probably comparable with Laurie as LA was saying.Ewan McGregor– hmmm, well, I guess I should say his RP (is it RP?) he used for the Star Wars prequels sounds rather funny as well. I'll have to listen to Hugh Jackman carefully again to catch any faded lilts.The others you mention, well, I'm not too familiar with them or with their shows just yet, so I guess that's research for another time.


  5. Another part of the conversation was that I had heard there had been an awards show that Matt LeBlanc was hosting. When Hugh Laurie came out to accept an award, LeBlanc acted as if Laurie was faking his accent, even to the point of faking it himself. I can't remember if I actually saw the clip (because I'd heard about it second hand initially) but Jack and I surmised that either he was joking or perhaps LeBlanc really had been typecast for his role as Joey Tribbani.


  6. I saw an interview yesterday with that australian girl in Fringe – Anna Torv is it? She sounded very strange. I think she lived in England for a while before the US. But I haven't watched the show so not sure what she sounds like in that.


  7. Linking back to your post for the PSA: Here's Lucy


  8. I was not wrong: Anna Torv is Anna Torv’s niece! Well, when your uncle owns the network …


  9. I'm guessing it was a set-up, but Laurie sounds so convincing to everyone except his native countrymen, who are, of course, superior judges on how we should all sound here in America, that I wouldn't be surprised if LeBlanc's comment was real.


  10. who are, of course, superior judges on how we should all sound here in AmericaI find that abundantly annoying. But then I've met idiot Brit kids who think that all Americans speak General American and that we therefore have no accents, or a lack of them.Craig Ferguson (once again) had it right: though there be an American mystique about the cleverness of Brits, if you actually go there, you'll find they're really not, i.e. they can be just as dumb as us Yanks. LOL. Bless you, Craig, although I can't remember who he was interviewing when he said that.


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