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Matt D
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Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 4:05 pm

Have you ever noticed? Anytime you see a TV or CNN news report from anywhere outside the US, they always use a reporter with a cockneyed accent?

If a person came up to you on the street and said: "Yo! gimme some change.", you would probably run for your life.

If somone else came up to you and said "Cherrio Mate. I would consider it a great honour if you could spare me with some bloody change."

You would hand over your car keys.

Many companies such as BMW, Audi, Jaguar, and some Stock Brokers use British accent speakers to advertise their goods and services. Apparently, the Limey accent is somehow equated to style, class, and finesse.

Why is that?

[Edited 2003-05-29 09:06:39]
 
gotAirbus
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 4:09 pm

Let me take a stab at this:

English Language = England

(gotAirbus?)

[Edited 2003-05-29 09:12:13]
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flyboy36y
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 4:34 pm

I heard that in the UK an american accent is a similar novelty...
 
ryanb741
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 4:40 pm

In the UK a US accent isn't perceived as classy though. Same goes for an Aussie accent. I guess the thing about the English accent is that the Queen's English (i.e. none of that Northern or Cockney nonsense) from the more refined areas of England (i.e. the Home Counties) is the proper way to speak english with the correct pronounciation, and so therefore may be perceived as classier in that way.
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seb146
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 5:22 pm

Just watch a few episodes of 'Keeping Up Apperances' and you will hear the difference between Queens English and Cockney English. It also shows how some accents can be percieved as classy. Besides, would you like to hear someone born and raised in the Bronx trying to sell a Lexus or someone from South Philly talking about TD Waterhouse? I am sure any number of people from those areas know about their products and services. To Americans, it instills some confidence and even an air of grace to hear an upper British accent talking about autos. It almost makes it sound like Rennecance art.


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Scotty
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 6:24 pm

Whats a "British" accent? I've never heard one. I have a Glasgow accent and there are Welsh, Irish, Cornish, Orcadian, West Highland, Buchan, Yorkshire, Geordie, Scouse, Manx, West Country, Cockney accents as well.

But not "British"
 
Banco
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 7:06 pm

Well, firstly, in Keeping Up Appearances, the intention was to show someone who was trying to be posh but wasn't, hence the occasional drop into a northern England accent.

Secondly, Scotty is right, there is no such thing as a British accent. The variety of accents across these isalnds is absolutely huge, far greater than across say, North America. The reason for this is that English grew up out of the combination of different languages prevalent in different regions of the country, thus for example north east England still uses rather more Norse words than the rest of the country, and this has had the same effect on accent.

"Received" pronunciation, the ultra posh Terry-Thomas/Leslie Philips/The Queen way of speaking has more or less died out, except as a caricature, and what you might call standard English is pretty much what you'd hear on the BBC. However, even there regional accents have made significant inroads, although not as far as Scotty's Glaswegian is concerned, since that accent is rather inpenetrable. To give an example, when Rab C Nesbitt (A Scottish comedy set in the less salubrious parts of Glasgow) was up for a European TV award, it had to be subtitled in English for the European judges, who, despite being fluent in English, couldn't understand it!

I suspect that the American view of English people speaking (not so much Scots, for some reason it doesn't seem to apply so much there) is perhaps one of the last remaining inferiority complexes in the US, at least amongst a significant number of people - the idea of hearing English "as it is meant to be" is the way at least some people see it. It is curious how whenever I go over, away from the main tourist areas, I am asked just to talk, as so many seem to love hearing me speak! It's slightly baffling, although I don't complain - the girls seem to like it!  Big grin
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Jaspike
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 7:16 pm

The Queen's English isn't actually correct. All this pronoucing 'grass' like 'grarss' etc. isn't actually the right way.

It was on a programme about 2 years ago. I can't remember how it said people started speaking like that, but it is a relatively new thing compared to the way most people say 'grass'.

Apparently people say I have no accent. My parents are from Yorkshire, but I'm in Nottinghamshire and haven't picked any accent up at all!

Josh
 
Banco
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 7:37 pm

Sort of, Jaspike, although whether you can say one way is correct and another isn't is rather debatable. The long "a" was an affectation used by the upper class to try to differentiate themselves from the rest. In the manner of people everywhere, it caught on to become if not dominant, at least a very strong part of language use.

As far as the way the English speak now is concerned, it is very different from that of a few hundred years ago. In Shakespeare's time, pronunciation was in many areas almost phonetic when put against our current spelling methods, and the "r" was much stronger. Indeed, it is quite possible that the American accents are closer to the way we used to speak than the current English accents, although it is not true to say that the English used to speak with an "American" accent, it is far more complex than that. However, you do hear words that are often called "Americanisms" in the English of a few hundred years back. "Gotten" is a good example of a word that died out of use here, but continued across the Atlantic.

English is a unique language, and the differences between the various speakers around the world is something we should celebrate. What makes it different is its ability to absorb languages and words from around the world. This isn't new. English began as an Anglo-Saxon tongue, sounding very much like German, but you can hear a number of words still in use, and the construction is similar. When the Vikings arrived, rather than one language supplanting the other, the two were infused. A good way of showing this is how two words which meant the same thing were both kept, but given slightly different meanings - the Anglo Saxon "job", and the Norse "skill". Indeed, many of the "sk" words are Norse in origin. Also, because spelling wasn't formalised, you had different pronunciations leading to different words. "Church", and "Kirk" are both derived from the same word, but the spellings reflect the different ways of saying it in southern England (church) and northern England and Scotland (kirk).

When the Normans arrived, there was another infusion of words, and the way they are used reflected the social status of the speakers. For example, the Anglo-Saxon peasantry kept "pigs" and "cows", whilst the Norman nobility ate "pork (porque)" and "beef (boeuf)".

As the Normans settled through the ages, their French drifted apart from what you might call real French, and since the children tended to be brought up by Anglo-Saxon maids, Anglo-Saxon re-asserted itself, albeit with huge volumes of Norman words. This was eventually encouraged by the Norman rulers, as their French was ridiculed by their cousins across the Channel, and in any case, they had begun to regard themselves as English, not French.

The next language expansion came in the 16th century, when scholars "decided" to import lots of Latin, but Anglicised words into English, and to try to formalise the spelling. In the manner of scholars everywhere, this simply made it far more confusing, similar in outcome to the American attempt to formalise spelling three hundred years later, because people adopted some changes and ignored the rest.

Navy and empire then added various words and expressions from around the word, and latterly US pre-eminence has done the same.

Sorry, it got a little of topic there, but I thought you might be interested.  Big grin
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Scotty
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 8:14 pm

Banco

They had to subtitle it for maist Scots as well!!

 Big thumbs up
 
Hepkat
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 9:33 pm

Why is the British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

One word: colonialism. This event has had a lasting impression on the entire colonized world because of history. Please understand also that the British were not famous for their kindness a few hundred years ago. There were strict class divisions and everything good and decent was considered British. The same perception of the British accent exists in all their former colonies.

Also interesting is the depiction of the British in American media. They're usually depicted as either stern authority figures or devious villains.
 
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 9:54 pm

Also interesting is the depiction of the British in American media. They're usually depicted as either stern authority figures or devious villains.

No. Patrick Stewart does a good job in Star Trek.  Big grin
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United Airline
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 11:16 pm

Both Canadian and American Accent are similar right?

[Edited 2003-05-29 16:16:48]
 
EGGD
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu May 29, 2003 11:18 pm

Hehe, I remember when I had a Roger Wilco meeting with Brandon (BH346), Bob (N312RC) and Zach (N400QX) and they kept asking me to say 'would you like a cup of tea, sir?'.

lmao, that sums it up really  Laugh out loud
 
N312RC
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri May 30, 2003 12:28 am

My favorite kind of woman is a woman with a british accent... I love it.
 
gkirk
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri May 30, 2003 1:12 am

Too be honest, the only ENglish people I can really understand most of the time are Geordies and some Cumbrians....when flying from Manchester I have to ask the bar staff to repeat the price of a beer  Big grin
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globalexpress
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri May 30, 2003 1:23 am

I'm a Geordie, but have "refined" my supposed "proper" English, to speak a little better. More well spoken, and more understandable. However, if I go into a pub my accent and grammar slide dramatically.

Whey aye man!

EGGD: you surely remember our RW conversations?  Smile

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bobrayner
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri May 30, 2003 1:36 am

Variety is the spice of life!

(My accent is mostly Yorkshire... I can get along fine in the USA and Europe but need a translator anywhere in southwestern England.  Smile )
Cunning linguist
 
747-451
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri May 30, 2003 1:36 am

Uppity? hardly. It is refreshing to hear "English" spoken by the English; proper enunciation, correct grammar and correct vocabulary. Beets the "brooklyneese", "ebonics" "drawls" (southern and New England) and other "dialects" that passes for english in the US...
 
gkirk
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri May 30, 2003 1:39 am

GlobalExpress:
Alreet  Big thumbs up  Laugh out loud
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EGGD
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri May 30, 2003 2:05 am

Oh aye Bob I remember that too  Laugh out loud

but we are british, so that don't count  Big grin
 
eg777er
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri May 30, 2003 2:45 am

This is one's voice: http://www.temanga.com/audio/Recording4.wav

That's what 8 years of a home counties public school does to you....
 
4holer
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri May 30, 2003 3:50 am

It seems to me that in the US, the snotty interpret it as "refined", (eg. any ad for an Infinity and most for Lexus), but everyone else sees it as snotty and pretentious.

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LHR340
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Sat May 31, 2003 9:47 am

 Laugh out loud Everyone thinks the English accent is snobby - I think we are quite opposite to that, people in the South-East (like me) or London (k we may speak cockney), have no accent. Also not all of us are as snobby as some may think, this is a 'stereotype'. If a Southerner went to the North or Wales for a break we woudn't have a clue as to what one was speaking about. Is that why London is so popular with tourists  Big thumbs up

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cedarjet
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Sat May 31, 2003 8:03 pm

I agree that most Brits don't speak like Americans think we do - that David Niven / Roger Moore / Eg777er thing, although most Londoners' accent is pretty close. On the other hand, there are hundreds of distinct accents and even within England (let alone Scotland and Wales) there are completely seperate, distinct LANGUAGES (eg Cornish) which don't share any resemblance to English. It's surprising for such a small country to be able to drive for half an hour and find a seperate, noticeablely different accent. I was looking through the Pan Am World Guide which has a few pages for each country, and lists currency, hours of sunshine/month etc., and for "language" in the entry for the United Kingdom it said, "English (many dialects spoken)" which kind of floored me cos one thinks of dialects as being something found in the wilds of Tanzania, but it is true, Geordie, Brummie, Scouse and Cockney are all as different (and unintelligible to each other at times) as the dialects of an obscure African language. The interesting thing about English as she is spoken in the UK is that the tribes are divided strictly by geographical origin, whereas in other English speaking countries (US and Aus), the differences are much more to do with the quality of one's education and circumstances. Not strictly true of course, there's the Southern thing in the US (and the way they speak in Maine! And Minnesota! Hello!) but in the UK it's really about what county you're from.

"Apparently, the Limey accent is somehow equated to style, class, and finesse." Unsurprising, cos Limeys are stylish, classy and most fine.
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cptkrell
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Sat May 31, 2003 10:32 pm

Nice "history of language" comments from Banco and Cedarjet. I noticed that while living in then-West Germany in the 1960-70s, "dialect" would change dramatically almost state-by-state. Maybe because I spent so little time in England I wasn't exposed to the many dialects in the UK.

Perhaps because the USA is so large, dialect, or accents, change area-by-area with language sub-modifications within areas, or even cities, due to education (or lack thereof) and ethnicity as Cedarjet opined.

I personally have always found a "British accent" (and I apologize for lumping the many dialects into one sum) enjoyable sounding rather than uppity, but then too, I like the seemingly "in-command", gutteral sound of a "German accent"...jack
all best; jack
 
kevi747
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Mon Jun 02, 2003 10:26 am

I think there is such a variety of accents in the UK. I couldn't really tell them apart before, but since I've mostly been flying London for a year now its a little easier. I think some British accents are as grating and annoying as any American, Aussie, NZ, or Canadian one. I wanted to smack this lady who shreiked, "Do you have some sweets for me daughter?!?" at me the other day. She sounded just like that lady in the "Yes!" car-loan commercials in London who says, "Can you make me payments fit me budget?" I hate her too.
"Reality has a well-known liberal bias." --Stephen Colbert
 
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Mon Jun 02, 2003 2:55 pm

Matty,

On many a trip to the USA people have had trouble picking I am an Aussie as I don't have and *ocker* accent. My sister and I were taught elocution lessons so that we would have a polished accent.

Of course to the Brits I sound like an aussie - but certainly not your westy type skank.

When I was in Montreal the people there thought I was British. LOL Didn't go down too well I can assure you.

Seb146,

Gosh I love Keeping Up Appearences! Mrs Bucket (pronounced bouquet)!

My favourite episode is when Hyacinth is accoseted by the local vicar.

mb  Big grin
 
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sebolino
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppi

Mon Jun 02, 2003 6:02 pm

Speaking about different English accent, I would like to know why in English, when you start arguing, very often you start to speak faster and high-pitched. The best example is Woody Allen who do it all the time.

But until now, it sounded normal to me, even if in French we never do it. But I heard it a few days ago on CNN, when a reporter was discussing with somebody else.
This guy speaking high-pitched sounded so ridiculous !

Does somebody have an opinion on that ?



[Edited 2003-06-02 11:10:36]
 
Banco
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Mon Jun 02, 2003 7:58 pm

I suspect it is just something you don't notice in your own language Sebolino. Certainly I hear people of every nationality, including the French, do the same thing, although it will vary depending on the accent in the first place.
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Turbolet
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppi

Tue Jun 03, 2003 4:01 am

Might be uppity but in some cases it's very fashionable. Here in Malta, we have our own imitation of a 'British' accent. Called Sliemiz after Sliema, the town where it's most often encountered, it's characterized by very prominent 'o' sounds and mute 'r' sounds. Funnily enough, that's the sort of accent you have to practise before a job interview with a famous company, then make sure you say half of each sentence in Maltese, half in Sliemiz and presto - the job is yours. For one thing, I've never met an Air Malta cabin crew member who doesn't say 'Good mawning' and 'I beg yah pahdon'.

The downside is that it's perceived as very stuck-up and bitchy by lower class Maltese - I once shared a ferry crossing and bus ride by a girl who was a cross between an Ghawdxi (Gozitan) and Beltija (Vallettese) and she said she never goes to the Sliema area because she can't stand the snobbish people.
 
Ezra
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Tue Jun 03, 2003 12:31 pm

Along similar lines, do the U.K. members on A.net perceive the differences in American accents (Southern drawl, Midwestern nasal twang, New York, Boston, etc. . .) And if so, what do you make of them?
 
USAFHummer
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Tue Jun 03, 2003 1:06 pm

By Scotty's logic in reply 5, then there is no such thing as an "American" accent either...we would have Southern, Midwest, Maine/New England, Long Island, New York City accents, etc.

Greg
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Banco
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Tue Jun 03, 2003 4:42 pm

Ezra,

Yes, of course there are noticeable differences in accent as you described, but to also answer USAFHummer, there is nothing like the variety of accents in North America that there is in the British Isles. The reason is as I pointed out much further up, with the growth and development of the English language being regionalised to such a great extent over 1,500 years - look at it this way, spelling wasn't standardised for more than two-thirds of the language's development, why would accent be any different? North American accents, although they vary, tend to be more homogenous than those over here. For example, there is a huge difference in accent between Liverpool and Manchester, yet the cities are only 20 miles apart. Edinburgh and Glasgow are the same, yet are only a little further away from each other.

That is one of the key differences. The other thing when talking about a "British" accent is that for one thing it is made up of several different countries. Even ignoring the myriad of regional accents, there is an easily identifiable difference between the way a Scotsman, an Englishman and a Welshman speaks, not to mention the huge difference in accent between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Therefore, you cannot talk about a British accent, but you could (just) get away with talking of an English, Welsh, Scots or Irish one.

Accents tend to be diluted by the growth in media which exposes a particular way of speaking to the general population, and in North America this is rather more noticeable because of the relative lack of diversity in speaking in the first place. You've only had a short period to develop differences before media inspired standardisation, whereas we've had much, much longer, and a genuine reason for the variation. Even so, some diversity has gone. Even up to 50 or 60 years ago, there were strong differences from one part of a county to another, even one village to its neighbour, that has mostly gone. Even so, the huge variety remains.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
ben
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Wed Jun 04, 2003 6:33 am

Good clip, eg777er!

Since coming to live in the UK I've tried to get an accent something like that. Partly because I like the English/Home counties style, but mostly because I dont really like the way Australians talk (especially the women - Mother, take note!)... sorry dont mean to offend any Aussies - I am one too afterall.

I just think the way that the English talk is nice  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Now it is extremely rare that anyone recognises the accent, and it's normally when Im drunk and say a word like "dunny" by mistake!
 
Scotty
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Wed Jun 04, 2003 7:23 am

By Scotty's logic in reply 5, then there is no such thing as an "American" accent either...we would have Southern, Midwest, Maine/New England, Long Island, New York City accents, etc

So you do. I can recognise Southern from New York etc but probably not New York from New Jersey, assuming there is a difference. Overall, apart from New Yorkers, most of the East Coasters sound similar to me.

Canadians - I can tell 'em apart from US Citizens and I can tell Newfies and NovaScots apart from all the rest of the Canucks.
 
lehpron
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu Jun 05, 2003 1:06 pm

isnt calling someone british like calling someone mexican?
The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.
 
Scotty
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Thu Jun 05, 2003 5:39 pm

Not unless Mexico has moved across the pond
 
GDB
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri Jun 06, 2003 1:25 am

For those of you with Discovery (in the UK), Comedian/actor and all round good bloke, Eddie Izzard, is presenting a 3 part series 'Mongrel Nation' (starting tonight at 21:00), about the roots of Englishness, accents will feature in it. (In one skit Izzard will speak in 'Old English, the dialect that is, not the cider!)
Research for the programme revealed that 95% of our population have foreign ancestry, originally this Island had a small population, supplemented and changed by wave upon wave of invasion and later immigration. Romans, Vikings, Normans to name a few of the older ones.
As for the programmes title? Izzard comments "We should be proud to be English because we are so cosmopolitan-it's the mongrel dog that's so wily and clever".
Should be compulsory viewing for BNP voters and people who actually believe what they read in the Sun and the Daily Mail.


 
bobrayner
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri Jun 06, 2003 1:42 am

Along similar lines, do the U.K. members on A.net perceive the differences in American accents (Southern drawl, Midwestern nasal twang, New York, Boston, etc. . .) And if so, what do you make of them?

Personally, I can spot the difference between NY and Texas easily, but anything more than that is difficult.  Smile
My friends in ID and WV have the same accent as far as I can tell; you might be able to differentiate though.

isnt calling someone british like calling someone mexican?

Eh?  Smile

British is easily the more appropriate demonym. The pound is the British currency (hopefully not for long though); our U.K. friends generally hold British passports; Westminster legislates for Britain.

England is not a country; Britain is.

The confusion between British and English is pretty common in everyday speech though - we all do it.
Cunning linguist
 
N312RC
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri Jun 06, 2003 4:55 am

Ive been doomed to live the rest of my life with the midwestern nasal twang..


dammit!
 
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri Jun 06, 2003 5:49 am

I find the typical upper class english accent gross. There is still a section of people who speak and act like this. The Lord's and Baroness's, they live in a country estate away from "those people", drive around in a Rolls Royce, wear white gloves and have their tea and biscuits every afternoon.
In Arsene we trust!!
 
lehpron
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri Jun 06, 2003 7:52 am

no scotty, what i meant was: is it ignorant to call people either from that part of the world, or that they look or talk the stereotype, british?

stereotypes are categorizations of minorities created by majorities and the minorities are shunned for having problems with it. Pick any one group. People from Mexico are Mexican, but people in any other country that look or talk like they're Mexican aren't Mexican; that would be insulting, would it not?
The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.
 
Banco
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RE: Why Is The British Accent Perceived As So Uppity?

Fri Jun 06, 2003 5:27 pm

I'm still at a loss as to what you're getting at here, Lehpron. Scots, English and Welsh, all are British. To refer to a British accent isn't insulting, merely inaccurate.

Incidentally, England is a country, and so is Scotland. Wales is slightly questionable as they've never been a true country, though with an Assembly now in place you could argue that they are. Britain (and the United Kingdom) are political constructs built from the unification of the countries within the island. Thus, we are British, but are also English, Scots or Welsh as well. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, but the people are not British, they are Irish, regardless of what Unionists might say, hence the term United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.

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