Fake Accents

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Post by jedopi » March 12th, 2010, 6:01 am

Okay, so I know there are a LOT of people out there on LV from all over the world so there are many, many different voices and accents... but what about the readers that use fake accents.

There are many books that call for a character to be from a certain country, such as England or France, etc. And sometimes it just makes more sense for the reader to have a British or French accent when they speak (or Italian, or Spanish, or whatever other language), BUT I was wondering what people who really have these accents think about others who try to sound like them.

So many books in the public domain are just screaming out for a good British accent (which unfortunately I do not have - My Grandparents did, because they really were British) but I desperately want to read with that accent but I am deathly afraid of offending someone who truly speaks that way.

So, to make a long story even longer apparently :lol: ... how do people who don't live in North America (Canada and US) feel about readers doing fake accents? I know you all think that we are the ones that have the funny accents, right?!

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Post by chocoholic » March 12th, 2010, 6:29 am

They probably feel the same as we do about people doing fake North American accents. :lol: (Speaking as a Southerner who rolls her eyes at all the fake Southern accents on TV and in the movies.) I realize I am not who you are asking because I'm American, but my feeling is that it's best to attempt accents only if you can do them accurately. If not, then read in your own natural accent and don't worry a bit about it.
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Post by RuthieG » March 12th, 2010, 6:31 am

jedopi wrote:So, to make a long story even longer apparently :lol: ... how do people who don't live in North America (Canada and US) feel about readers doing fake accents?
Well, the first thing to say is that you don't ever have to try and do a fake accent. All books can be read in the way that you naturally speak, as long as it is understandable.

How do I feel personally about people doing accents that are not their natural way of speech? Well, of course, it depends totally how well executed they are. There are American readers here whose 'British English' accents cannot be distinguished from the 'real thing'. And there are some who raise a wry chuckle. And I am not telling you which. ;)

What I would say to you, though, is that it is jolly hard work reading a book in a 'put-on' accent. I speak from experience.

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Post by jedopi » March 12th, 2010, 6:42 am

Thanks for taking the time to get back to me RuthieG. I love your comment. :wink: You know which one I mean.

Did you record an entire book with a "fake" accent or just a chapter or two? I'm sure it would be quite difficult to do an entire book with an accent that is not natural to you.

This is sort of embarrassing :oops: but when I read (out loud in the tub) I sometimes find myself slipping into a fake British accent. I have told you before that my grandparents were from England but my mom never spoke with an accent. She was born and raised in Canada, like me. But, for some reason as a child whenever I would leave my grandparents house after a visit I would start talking with an accent. I didn't even realize that I was doing it, until my parents told me to stop.

Oh, and by the way I love your "Jolly Hard Work". (How do you make that into an actual quote from another post by the way?)

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Post by RuthieG » March 12th, 2010, 6:48 am

The large parts of Wuthering Heights narrated by Nellie Dean. And it was
Jolly hard work

Code: Select all

[quote]Jolly hard work[/quote]
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Post by Shipley » March 12th, 2010, 7:19 am

I have no objection to fake accents if they are done right. However, as others have observed, they are more difficult to do convincingly than you might think:

(a) it is difficult to sustain a consistent accent, or especially a variety of accents for different characters, over readings that may stretch over weeks or months;

(b) the accent must be accompanied by the proper stress pattern -- nothing sounds less convincing than an American mid-Westerner affecting a British upper class accent, while abysmally failing to match a British stress pattern; and

(c) you must have the right accent and, especially in the case of British accents, this is often not as easy as it sounds. Even this Englishman can easily detect the difference between the accents of the East and West sides of Glasgow in Scotland. Professionals can and do slip up on this one. With the aid of a professional voice coach, Audrey Hepburn managed, in "My Fair Lady", a Cockney accent (and dialect) convincing to most English. However, I understand there was some hilarity when the film was shown in East London. As Professor Higgins himself implicitly realized, there is more than one sub-dialect of Cockney, and unfortunately Hepburn, or the voice coach, failed to settle on a consistent sub-dialect, leaving her (vocally) wandering all over the East End.

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Post by kayray » March 12th, 2010, 9:15 am

An unconvincing accent is one of the few things that will make me simply stop listening to a chapter.
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Post by sjmarky » March 12th, 2010, 9:27 am

Decent accents are much more difficult than character voices, since listeners will have a preconception of what an accent should sound like. If it's bad, it's worse than doing none at all. Even established professional narrators have difficulties. It requires a lot of practice, accent guides, etc. to a decent accent. I would never do an entire book an an accent other than my own.
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Post by icyjumbo » March 12th, 2010, 9:58 am

You don't have to do the full accent, either. I see no reason why you can't slightly alter your natural speaking accent in the direction of the one you want to use. It's another way of doing a character voice, if you like.

For example, I don't know exactly how a West Country (English) accent sounds, but I can make my voice sound more rural. I can also make it sound more Estuary, which is a nod towards, but not the same as, Cockney.

I wouldn't attempt any sort of American accent, however. Not until I've taught myself propertly how to do it.

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Post by TriciaG » March 12th, 2010, 10:02 am

I'm perfectly OK with fake accents, even ones not perfectly executed. On some works, it helps distinguish the characters.

However, I know my limitations and do not attempt them myself. :roll:
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Post by jedopi » March 12th, 2010, 10:35 am

I never knew I would get such a huge response to this question. Thanks for all your opinions.

I would never claim to know all the different types of dialects in and around England or any other country for that matter. I do think that when a reader does add a "slight" accent to a character it makes it sometimes easier to establish setting as well as character - for example whether someone is meant to be upper class, a farmer, etc. In fact just by changing your voice slightly (which could be considered a form of "accent"), it makes the listener realize if it is a man, woman, or child speaking.

Thanks for all your help, once again and if I do happen to add an accent here and there, please don't hold it against me. I am not claiming to be an expert on accents. I just think they are necessary sometimes in an audio book. And besides they are fun too!


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Post by SmokestackJones » March 12th, 2010, 10:13 pm

Hey there,

I'm in the "it's okay as long as it's done well" camp. I myself do readings with accents if it calls for it (I can't even think about doing Dickens without a British accent of some kind) but I'm perfectly happy to not use one. When I do say, British, I tend to adopt a "stage British" accent I do from years on stage and it works out. For different characters I do try to do my research and try to come reasonably close to region, all the while hoping to Gawd I'm not doing a Dick Van Dyke accent.

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Post by ExEmGe » March 13th, 2010, 12:38 pm

Well, I know I'm a guilty party, but sometimes the author writes the accent into the book
"Hoo be so ceawnted, sure eno," remarked the forester, who had been listening attentively to their discourse, and who now stepped forward; "boh dunna yo think it. Beleemy, lort abbut, Bess Demdike's too yunk an too protty for a witch."
and it would seem very odd to read that without making some effort, so what is one to do?
Apart from not read the book of course.
Anyway I like trying on new accents. It's much more fun than than trying on new suits!
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Post by Lucy_k_p » March 13th, 2010, 12:48 pm

I don't really do accents, but I do do voices for my characters. Especially in children's books. Scary characters will have deep, roaring voices, posh characters talk like they've got a mouthful of plums, male and female characters will have distinct voices, etc.

I do put some effort into phonetically written accents, and sometimes one of my character voices will be sliding towards a recognisable 'real' accent. But mostly I try to make the character's sound different, rather than keeping them towards any accent the book says they might have. And while my men sound different to my women, I don't think they necessarily sound like actual men.
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Post by Gesine » March 14th, 2010, 6:47 am

One could argue that all non-native speakers of a language use 'fake accents' as a matter of course. ;)

Badly executed fake accents don't bother me if I'm not very familiar with the attempted accents - if I am, I find it grating if it's prolonged. If it's just little bits of speech here and there I don't mind. As someone else said, it can help distinguish characters (then again, a different voice might work better than a bad fake accent).
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