Banco
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British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:24 am

Intriguing idea. So, to our transatlantic cousins, what do you think?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6470095.stm

A cut glass English accent can fool unsuspecting Americans into detecting a "brilliance that isn't there", says Stephen Fry. So is a British accent - of any variety - the route to success in the United States?
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Queso
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:35 am

Uh oh, looks like 53 Sqdn's secret is out!
 
TSS
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:38 am

Watching just one interview with the Gallagher brothers of Oasis ought to correct any American misconceptions about British brilliance.  Wink
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Arrow
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:40 am

This should spark a lively discussion. I always thought that cut glass accent was the sign of a pompous, insufferable know-it-all. I had no idea it was actually a brilliant MI5 secret weapon designed to get Americans to do stupid things. So Iraq is actually all Blair's fault? But what do I know, being born in Yorkshire. I didn't learn to speak English until I moved to Toronto.

There must be some Aussies out there ready to wade in poetically on this one. I hope.
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searpqx
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:42 am

There is certainly a cachet of civility (or perhaps snootiness  Wink ) that comes w/ the Brit accent, but I don't know about brilliance. I personally find them sexy, but in business dealings, the second I hear a Brit on a conference call, I mentally gird myself for a difficult call. Seems to be a certain level of 'mines bigger' that goes on between the offices of our company on each side of the Atlantic.
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VonRichtofen
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:43 am

A "cut glass" english accent on a female drives me wild. Can't really explain it. Doesn't really make them seem brilliant to me, just classier.


Kris
 
TSS
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:47 am

Quoting Arrow (Reply 3):
But what do I know, being born in Yorkshire.

Now there's an accent worth listening to!
I imagine you had a tough time convincing some folks that you did indeed have a British accent, as most people in the US assume that all Brits have the "cut glass" accent only.
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fumanchewd
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:05 am

It is funny. I see often times that companies who want to target higer income clients typically use British spokespeople or voiceovers.
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David L
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:14 am

Quoting TSS (Reply 6):
most people in the US assume that all Brits have the "cut glass" accent only.

 checkmark 

You'll notice that the thread is about British accents... plural.

I don't know about the cut glass accent in the USA but, in my experience, a lot of brilliance is hidden in the UK by coarse regional accents. Mind you, nine times out of ten your first instinct is probably correct.  Smile
 
1stfl94
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:25 am

In my experience you can get an American to do anything for you with a British accent!!!
 
CHRISBA777ER
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:27 am

Quoting TSS (Reply 2):
Watching just one interview with the Gallagher brothers of Oasis ought to correct any American misconceptions about British brilliance.

Noel Gallagher is actually one of the MOST brilliant men of his era in many ways.

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 7):
It is funny. I see often times that companies who want to target higer income clients typically use British spokespeople or voiceovers.

Yes but most of the baddies in Star Wars are all British - "Good Day Lord Vader, I have the power generator in sight, the shield will be down in moments old chap."
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TSS
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:38 am

Quoting CHRISBA777ER (Reply 10):
Noel Gallagher is actually one of the MOST brilliant men of his era in many ways.

Perhaps so, but the fact that his interviews are broadcast over here with English subtitles(!) because his manner of speaking is so muttered and incomprehensible tends to disguise any brilliance he may possess.

And this phenomenon does go both ways; I speak with a very thick Southern accent which to most of the English-speaking world would mark me as an unsophisticated hick.

[Edited 2007-03-21 22:45:51]
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trvyyz
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:58 am

Quoting VonRichtofen (Reply 5):
A "cut glass" english accent on a female drives me wild. Can't really explain it. Doesn't really make them seem brilliant to me, just classier.

 bigthumbsup 

Here's what one guy feels about the accent  Wink


BTW I'm personally biased to the English accent
 
David L
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 6:34 am

Quoting TRVYYZ (Reply 12):
Here's what one guy feels about the accent

Reminds me of the Family Guy take on British porn:

"Almost... almost... there we are."
"Well done!"

 biggrin 
 
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:15 am

Quoting TSS (Reply 6):
Now there's an accent worth listening to!

I can sing all verses of "On Ilkley Moor bar t'at" (probably spelled it wrong), but only after several pints of Guinness. My poor American-born wife loathes the old family gatherings because she speaks only English and French, and that thick Yorkshire dialect isn't very close to either one.
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ba747yyz
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:28 am

You know the stupidity is putting on an RP accent is actually quite easy, and if you really have trouble doing it look at the phonetic diffrences and its handed to you. It really is quite easy, maybe thats just expensive schools talking, but its so simple.

Fun fact: did you know many britons actually change their accents to RP when they move abroad. EX: MY grandmother from Inverness talks like she's the daughter of an Earl.
 
VonRichtofen
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:58 pm

Quoting TRVYYZ (Reply 12):
Here's what one guy feels about the accent

Hahahaha! Russel Peters! Best Canadian comic today Big grin

Kris
 
QANTASforever
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:52 pm

Interesting theory. I've always thought that a British accent accentuated a lack of brilliance - but shows how much I know.

QFF
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Banco
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:43 pm

Quoting VonRichtofen (Reply 16):
Russel Peters!

Yes, that was good. Big grin

Quoting QANTASforever (Reply 17):
a British accent

Singular? Come now, you should know better than that.

Personally, because I speak with a Kent accent most Americans seem to be under the impression that I'm Australian, which does provide me complete freedom with increasing American hostility to Australia....  Wink
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QANTASforever
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:49 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 18):
Singular? Come now, you should know better than that.

Remind me who started this thread originally and thus named it?

Quoting Banco (Reply 18):
Personally, because I speak with a Kent accent most Americans seem to be under the impression that I'm Australian, which does provide me complete freedom with increasing American hostility to Australia....

I'm unaware of any such hostility. Would you care to take this opportunity to elaborate?

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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:49 pm

I don't know what type of accent it was (perhaps somebody can tell me), but when I was kid, I spent 1 or 2 weeks in a british home, I think it was in Brighton (not sure), and the woman asked at the end of the day "What did you do today ?", but she clearly pronounced (to my ears) "What did you do to die ?".

I wonder if it's the normal British accent or some speciality from the country ...  Smile
 
Banco
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:53 pm

Quoting QANTASFOREVER (Reply 19):
Remind me who started this thread originally and thus named it?

Indeed. Note the plural in the title.

Quoting QANTASFOREVER (Reply 19):
I'm unaware of any such hostility. Would you care to take this opportunity to elaborate?

Not if you don't get the joke, no.  Wink
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:58 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 21):
Indeed. Note the plural in the title.

My original wording was fine. To say "a British accent" is like saying "a European accent" - it can contain many things.

But you're right - I should have confined my comments to those with Kent accents.

Quoting Banco (Reply 21):
Not if you don't get the joke, no.

I don't quite get what you're driving at. Do tell, I'm all ears.

QFF
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disruptivehair
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:00 pm

I've lived here for six years so English accents don't sound like anything to me anymore, though some regional accents are pretty irritating, like some people from the South saying 'nuffink' instead of 'nothing', for example.

I like Scottish accents, and some (SOME) Welsh accents are very lovely and sing-songy. I'm not seduced by Irish accents of any flavor.
 
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:03 pm

Quoting QANTASforever (Reply 22):
I should have confined my comments to those with Kent accents

That's more like it! Big grin

Quoting Disruptivehair (Reply 23):
though some regional accents are pretty irritating, like some people from the South saying 'nuffink' instead of 'nothing', for example.

As opposed to people saying "nowt"?  Wink
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:14 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 24):
As opposed to people saying "nowt"?

I'm not really a fan of that either, but since I live in Yorkshire the accent is as ordinary to me as a Texas accent is, i.e. I don't really notice it anymore.  Big grin
 
Banco
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:18 pm

Quoting Disruptivehair (Reply 23):
I'm not seduced by Irish accents of any flavor.

But surely the deeply romantic Ian Paisley shout does the trick? Big grin
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disruptivehair
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:19 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 26):
But surely the deeply romantic Ian Paisley shout does the trick?

Uh...I was brought up Catholic, so even if I did like Irish accents...it wouldn't blow my skirt up.

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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 7:39 pm

Quoting Fumanchewd (Reply 7):
It is funny. I see often times that companies who want to target higer income clients typically use British spokespeople or voiceovers.

I always laugh at the announcements at MSP in the parking ramp and on the trams. They're all British.
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David L
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 7:52 pm

Quoting Sebolino (Reply 20):
I wonder if it's the normal British accent or some speciality from the country ...

There is no "normal" British Accent  Smile . There's the cut-glass accent (posh), neutral accents (the ones British actors tend to use in Hollywood - neither posh nor regional) and many regional accents of varying intensity. However, I think QANTASforever makes a good point here:

Quoting QANTASforever (Reply 22):
To say "a British accent" is like saying "a European accent" - it can contain many things.

I think a "European" accent is stretching it but we do tend to talk about an "American" accent or a "German" accent, even though there are regional variations there, too. There are "Northern European" accents (e,g, the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia), "Latin European" accents (e,g, Spain, France, Italy) and "Eastern European" accents (basically former Warsaw Pact countries). I guess we have no more right get annoyed when someone talks of a "British" accent than someone from Poland or Slovakia has when we talk of an "Eastern European" accent.

Basically, someone can speak with a British accent but not the British accent.

Quoting Sebolino (Reply 20):
but she clearly pronounced (to my ears) "What did you do to die ?".

That's not too bad. Someone form closer to London might have pronounced it "Whotchoo do t'die?"... leaving you with the dilemma of whether or not to say "Bless you!".
 
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 7:53 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 18):
Personally, because I speak with a Kent accent most Americans seem to be under the impression that I'm Australian

Oh the unmitigated horror ! Grounds for immediate seppuku, I'd say.

It's true that a relatively posh English accent will get you past most scrutiny, it seems, not just in the U.S. but elsewhere - something about a Tim-Nice-But-Dim aura that confers instant respectability  Smile
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Banco
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:10 pm

Quoting David L (Reply 29):
but we do tend to talk about an "American" accent or a "German" accent, even though there are regional variations there, too

Germany, I'm sure that's true. But North America doesn't have anything like the variety of accents that the British Isles do, and for very good reason. Our accents and dialects are derived ultimately from separate languages, and to take a simple example, the extreme north of England is heavily influenced by Norse, both in word and pronunciation. That's something that has grown up over 1,500 years or so, whereas right from the start the North American accents were much more homogenous - and indeed it was a cause of praise and celebration from very early on by visitors to the country. You get differences, of course, but nothing like the vast change in accent between say, Manchester and Liverpool, two cities barely thirty miles apart, or the incredible difference in accent and pronunciation across London.

Because of the infinitely greater facility for travel and internal migration, many of the more extreme accents here have been flattened out over the last century or so, but as far as the English speaking world is concerned, the variety of accents here vastly outweighs anywhere else where the language is native.

[Edited 2007-03-22 13:11:46]
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KaiGywer
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:16 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 31):
But North America doesn't have anything like the variety of accents

Ever been in the deep south? Then go to northern Minnesota.
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Banco
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:20 pm

Quoting KaiGywer (Reply 32):
Ever been in the deep south? Then go to northern Minnesota.

Of course. As I said, there are differences. But no linguistic expert would argue the point that the variety of accents in Britain is much, much greater than in the US. The trouble is, most of us, from whatever side of the pond can't detect differences very well, so I can't really offer you specific instances or examples that will mean much to you. All I can say is to repeat that language experts all concur on this point. What we are good at is spotting big differences, such as the example you give, or the Queen and Billy Connolly. What we are poor at is determining the likes of the example I gave, Manchester and Liverpool, which are completely different accents, but which you probably wouldn't be able to tell apart because of lack of familiarity.

[Edited 2007-03-22 13:23:09]
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Molykote
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:35 pm

Quoting Banco (Thread starter):
A cut glass English accent can fool unsuspecting Americans into detecting a "brilliance that isn't there", says Stephen Fry. So is a British accent - of any variety - the route to success in the United States?

I think this is true..... but applies mostly to stupid Americans.

My company had the pleasure of hosting 2 new hires from Airbus for a few months. They got laid (primarily by stupid girls) like it was their job.

One of the guy's 'partners' told him the following within 30 seconds of meeting:
"Oh, you have an English accent. I love talking with people who sound intelligent. I'm kind of looking for a steady boyfriend." (WTF!?)

Edit: To clarify, this Airbus engineer was (obviously) no idiot.
My point was that it wouldn't have mattered (to this girl) if he ate boogers.

[Edited 2007-03-22 13:37:38]
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Banco
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:38 pm

Quoting Molykote (Reply 34):
They got laid (primarily by stupid girls) like it was their job.

Cue 60 million Brits searching desperately for their passports...  Wink
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:40 pm

Quoting Banco (Reply 33):
But no linguistic expert would argue the point that the variety of accents in Britain is much, much greater than in the US.

I believe you. I have a friend from north of London. Met up with her and her friend from London once....DAMN! Took some effort to understand them (this was back in Norway before I moved here). Same with my friends here, they can't tell the difference between my Norwegian (TRF - south east) and my friend (KKN - north east) although they are vastly different  Smile
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:46 pm

Quoting David L (Reply 29):
Quoting Sebolino (Reply 20):
but she clearly pronounced (to my ears) "What did you do to die ?".

That's not too bad. Someone form closer to London might have pronounced it "Whotchoo do t'die?"... leaving you with the dilemma of whether or not to say "Bless you!".

OK, so for my French spirit distorted by a centralized country, the "official" British accent is the one from London and the right pronounciation of "today" is too-die.  Smile
 
Banco
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:56 pm

Quoting Sebolino (Reply 37):
he "official" British accent is the one from London

Errrr, you're opening up a whole can of worms there! It's probably true that various amalgamations of the south-east England accents are the dominant ones, but there is no "official" accent or anything like it. Shakespeare, for example, almost certainly spoke with a regional midlands accent. The trouble is, just as in many other spheres of life, speech patterns are used to express cultural or social superiority, so you get self-appointed arseholes stating that they way they speak is correct and everyone else is inferior and should learn to speak proper  Wink if they want to be part of this self-appointed elite. It's always gone on, and so you get blatant affectations like the long "a" in "bath" or "path" taking hold. It's not just here either. The early Americans took immense pride in their "superior" form of speech, comparing it favourably with back in England. Their horror as Americans moved west and comprehensively stuffed their beautiful, elegant enunciation causes someone like me (who hates pompous, self-justifying expressions of superiority) immense delight.

And it still goes on too. If you read the way some people react to the way minority ethnic groups talk (both in Britain and the US), you'd think it was the end of the world. And it's the same thing, an expression of power that they talk properly and other don't. But there are no rules about what is right and wrong, it's all part of the mix. Put it this way, the speech of the deep south in the US is highly influenced by that of the slaves. Tell that to the KKK and they'll pop an artery, but it's utterly true.
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oly720man
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:06 pm

My brother lives in America and his (now ex) 2nd wife, who was a bit nuts, jealous, paranoid, had to go on business trips with him "because with his English accent he might chat up, or even pick up other women". Really all he wanted to do, off duty, was to hit the bars and play golf. Having said that, Comdex does seem to coincide with the porn industry show.

Quoting Sebolino (Reply 37):
"official" British accent is the one from London and the right pronounciation of "today" is too-die.

Eastenders British, or maybe Essex British, or maybe even Marbella/Benidorm British.
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ME AVN FAN
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:22 pm

Quoting Sebolino (Reply 20):
the woman asked at the end of the day "What did you do today ?", but she clearly pronounced (to my ears) "What did you do to die ?".

Suppose it was what I would call, not really correctly in fact, "Southern Cockney". Just as I once was asked at LGW :
"where is the wiy to the giytes ? " it was not "die" but "tdiy" !

Quoting Banco (Reply 31):
the variety of accents

well, the difference between people in NY and such in Texas is at least as the one between Londoners and Scots, while the "accent" or rather dialect of the Carolinas is quite a challenge when visiting that area .
 
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:25 pm

Quoting ME AVN FAN (Reply 40):
well, the difference between people in NY and such in Texas is at least as the one between Londoners and Scots, while the "accent" or rather dialect of the Carolinas is quite a challenge when visiting that area .

 Yeah sure

Yes, I've already said as much.

That's not what I was getting at.
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disruptivehair
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:29 pm

Quoting ME AVN FAN (Reply 40):
well, the difference between people in NY and such in Texas is at least as the one between Londoners and Scots, while the "accent" or rather dialect of the Carolinas is quite a challenge when visiting that area .

I don't find them challenging, but then again I'm American.  bigthumbsup 
 
1stfl94
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:42 pm

Quoting Sebolino (Reply 20):
I don't know what type of accent it was (perhaps somebody can tell me), but when I was kid, I spent 1 or 2 weeks in a british home, I think it was in Brighton (not sure), and the woman asked at the end of the day "What did you do today ?", but she clearly pronounced (to my ears) "What did you do to die ?".

I wonder if it's the normal British accent or some speciality from the country ...

That's just the Brighton accent.
 
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:19 pm

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 30):
Oh the unmitigated horror ! Grounds for immediate seppuku, I'd say.

I must alert the Americans to continue to confuse the accents then.  Wink

Quoting Banco (Reply 33):
the Queen

Can I just say - that the Queen does not speak with the penultimate plum in her mouth. You need look no further than the late Princess Margaret for the true extreme.

QFF
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disruptivehair
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:21 pm

Quoting QANTASforever (Reply 44):
I must alert the Americans to continue to confuse the accents then.

Aussies don't sound anything like Brits. I did nearly come to physical harm when I asked a New Zealander if they were Australian, though. THOSE accents sound alike to me.  slaphappy 
 
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RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:22 pm

Quoting QANTASforever (Reply 44):
You need look no further than the late Princess Margaret for the true extreme.

True enough. And it's noticeable how Princes Harry and William speak with a much more normal accent rather than the traditional "Nobody, but NOBODY speaks like we do" accent.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
cornish
Posts: 7651
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2005 8:05 pm

RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:25 pm

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 30):
It's true that a relatively posh English accent will get you past most scrutiny, it seems, not just in the U.S. but elsewhere - something about a Tim-Nice-But-Dim aura that confers instant respectability

And ensures that Hugh Grant somehow manges to continue to get work in Hollywood......

Quoting QANTASforever (Reply 44):
Can I just say - that the Queen does not speak with the penultimate plum in her mouth. You need look no further than the late Princess Margaret for the true extreme.

Actually having heard Princess Anne speaking at an event a couple of years ago I'd say she was heading that way. It was the way she pronounced "House" as "Hice" that made me chuckle Big grin
Just when I thought I could see light at the end of the tunnel, it was some B*****d with a torch bringing me more work
 
Arrow
Posts: 2325
Joined: Wed Jun 19, 2002 7:44 am

RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:16 pm

Quoting Disruptivehair (Reply 45):
Aussies don't sound anything like Brits. I did nearly come to physical harm when I asked a New Zealander if they were Australian, though.

I too had a near-death experience on first-meeting with the Kiwi who is now my best friend. First I suggested he must be British, and when he denied that I concluded he must be an Aussie -- and told him so. He promptly told me I was clearly not only an American, but a stupid one at that.

It struck me as I was reading these posts that it would be worthwhile to go back and read Shaw's Pygmalion, or get a tape of My Fair Lady, and refresh my memory about just how important it is to speak the Queen's English if you want to get ahead in life.

I've got a great wmv.file in my computer of a British comedy skit called "Yorkshire Airlines" but I can't for the life of me figure out how to paste it into a post, or I would have done it by now.
Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
 
Banco
Topic Author
Posts: 14343
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2001 11:56 pm

RE: British Accents Disguise A Lack Of Brilliance?

Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:24 pm

Quoting Arrow (Reply 48):
I've got a great wmv.file in my computer of a British comedy skit called "Yorkshire Airlines" but I can't for the life of me figure out how to paste it into a post, or I would have done it by now.

This one?

She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.

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