Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive!

A couple of weeks ago Alice Bachini wrote about accents. She made the point that accents can affect the way people behave.

If you’re used to a loud, swearing-laden, metaphorically-poor, mostly monosyllabic, heavily generalising, strongly expressive of emotional negativity but weak when it comes to finding any words for “happiness” or any kind of sensitive or gentle human interaction kind of dialect, the whole world seems different than if you speak the language of an Upper-Class Englishman. When you talk to people, they are responding to an entirely different set of inexplicit ideas inherently buried in your language (and I don’t just mean their own prejudices and associations- that’s not it at all, as I mentioned above- it’s the real inexplicit content, I’m talking about).

And in this weekend’s Spectator, Theodore Dalrymple says that bad pronunciation is being encouraged by the middle classes to keep the poor in their place.
These things matter to me. I hate my accent as it is a ‘crocodile hunter’ which I worry will have people associating me with Steve Irwin.
On the Internet, no one knows you are a dog; or a hick from Dingo-Woop-Woop. I like this.



  1. Al Maviva

    Scott, one of the local radio stations here in Washington always runs a soundbite featuring C-3PO from Star Wars whenever a Tony Blair news story is read in the morning. It has C-3PO mournfully intoning, “Master Luke, I’m damaged… I don’t think I can make it… you go on without me.” The voice is so pitifully Oliver-Twisty that I howl every time I hear it. Of course Tony Blair is so un-English Public School that the accent doesn’t really fit – but the image has so burned into my mind that whenever I see 15 Minutes of Parliament on C-Span, that I am waiting for Blair to go “Master Straw, I’m polling poorly and don’t think I can make it… you go to Davos without me.” I then wait to see Claire Short’s head spin round, whistle, beep, and stick a metallic extension into the nearest wall socket.
    And of course, what upper-class British Accent is worthwhile, if it fails to put you in mind of the Hugh Laurie character in Blackadder? It’s a shame, really, that the class of folks that gave us Robert Graves and the Colonial Service of the British Empire also gave us a diction synynymous with latent homosexuality, foppery and supercilliousness. Funny stuff, the detritus of Empire…

  2. Al Maviva

    Ps. Scott, rest assured, the most foul Ozzie accent is, to the American ear, preferable to the sweetest French accent. And not to pick on my South African friends, but Jeebus…
    Ps: How ’bout them Wallabies?

  3. Scott Wickstein

    Ah the Wallabies will fall before stern opposition, I fear. One Namibia doesn’t make a summer you know.
    Ah well, you are right about the South African accent. Not the most elegant. With apologies, but thats the way it is…

  4. Gary

    I like Steve Irwin and Steve Giannopoulos they are both cheeky and a refreshing change from the TV sopes that we have had to put up with for the last twenty years. Its not really uncommon to meet characters like that.