Fake Accents

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Hokuspokus
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Post by Hokuspokus » March 14th, 2010, 10:55 am

I remember a chapter of a book (read in English) where one person was German. It was read with a fake accent, that sounded not at all German to me. It was funny but it was an adventure book, so the wrong accent was not at all disturbing for me.

In another book the reader did a special British accent for one character. It was very well done, sounded very convincing to me, so convincing that I couldn't understand it at all. :lol:

wildemoose
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Post by wildemoose » March 14th, 2010, 6:43 pm

I think it's a good idea to have a few accents under your belt if you're doing a lot of recording, because some books really do require it. I'm currently working on a book that requires a Scottish accent for one character; it's written in heavy dialect so there's really no choice but to attempt it. I know my accent is poor and I can only hope that anyone who should listen will understand that it was done with the best of intentions. :)

On the other hand, I've done an English accent for a few projects, which is something I'm reasonably comfortable with, although I'm always looking to improve. I would never discourage anyone from recording in a "foreign" accent if they're enthusiastic about it, willing to learn, and open to constructive criticism. After all, the only way to get better is to practice!

As someone else mentioned, there are a few Librivox readers whose "fake" accents absolutely cannot be distinguished from the real thing. My British husband was entirely fooled by Elizabeth Klett's accent in Jane Eyre, and as an American, I can say that Karen Savage's American/Canadian accent is impeccable.

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Post by Lucy_k_p » March 15th, 2010, 12:22 pm

Speaking of phonetically rendered accents, I've just had to read a chapter with a horribly inconsistent one. Sometime 'e dropped 'is haitches and sometimes he didn't. It made it impossible to get a decent flow going and I kept tripping over my tongue. And even though the accent was very close to an accent I grew up around, it was just different enough to be a terrible nuisance. I struggled through, but I wonder what it'll sound like after I've edited it. I had to re-read so many bits so many times that the length recorded is over 17 minutes, whereas the finished length should be less than 10.

*fingers crossed* it'll come out okay.
So little space, so much to say.

Peter Why
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Post by Peter Why » March 16th, 2010, 1:11 am

In Pygmalion, Shaw's attempt to use written English to represent the Cockney accent either is ridiculously poorly observed and reproduced or the Cockney accent has changed strangely in the past hundred years or so.

Do we follow the author or our knowledge of the accent?

Peter
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ExEmGe
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Post by ExEmGe » March 16th, 2010, 3:04 am

He didn’t really try very hard though did he?
In my 1946 Penguin copy which claims to be the definitive text he only has two or three goes
e.g.
Mother - How do you know that my son’s name is Freddy, pray?
Flower Girl - Ow eez yeooa san is e? Wal, fewd dan y’ d-ooty bawmz a mather should, eed now bettern to spawl a pore gel’s flahrn than ran awy athart payin. Will ye-oo py me f’them?
(Which doesn’t read too badly to me)
He then adds in parenthesis
“Here with apologies, this desperate attempt to represent her dialect without a phonetic alphabet must be abandoned as unintelligible outside London”

and from then on, apart from gramatical errors he gives up and we get speeches such as
Flower Girl - Who’s trying to deceive you? I called him Freddy or Charlie same as you might yourself If you was talking to a stranger and wished to be pleasant

So, so far as Shaw was concerned, the answer is that you have to make it up as you go along.!
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Quinkish
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Post by Quinkish » March 17th, 2010, 2:36 am

It's not just the accent either - pronunciation can be a problem and I've heard some British names badly mangled: Marlborough is one that springs to mind!

One problem is that online pronunciation guides to "English" tend to give you the American pronunciation so it's difficult to get right.

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Post by Nicholas19 » March 17th, 2010, 6:34 am

Quinkish wrote:It's not just the accent either - pronunciation can be a problem and I've heard some British names badly mangled: Marlborough is one that springs to mind!

One problem is that online pronunciation guides to "English" tend to give you the American pronunciation so it's difficult to get right.
I often use http://howjsay.com/ which gives the RP pronunciation.

I've heard English place-names pronounced in very odd ways indeed. I find it especially strange when I hear people pronounce Worcester (my city of birth) as if it were Worchester. Where does the 'ch' sound come from? It's supposed to sound something like Wooster.

The thing about LibriVox, though, is that we're (quite often) reading 19th century works in 20th and 21st century accents. No one had recording devices in the 19th century, but still linguists will be able to tell us that pronunciations were different everywhere. Even 19th century London accents are likely to have been remarkably different from those of today.

Don't forget that Australian and New Zealand English are very new accents, yet their speakers are descended from 19th century English immigrants. Their accents could perhaps even preserve elements of some accents from 19th century England that have changed or been lost by 20th and 21st century English speakers. Similarly, American English, which had its origins in 17th and 18th century English migrations, is actually more conservative than RP English. The rhotic pronunciation of r, for instance, dropped in RP (but not in the West Country), is the more conservative pronunciation. Henry VIII, Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I would have sounded a lot more like Americans or West Country folk than RP-speakers. This map shows the extent of rhotic pronunciation in 1950's England: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RhoticEngland.png This map shows the extent of rhoticity now: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RhoticEngland2.png The change is huge! If pronunciations can change so rapidly, one can easily imagine how different 19th century English was! :)
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Post by catchpenny » March 17th, 2010, 8:52 am

Nicholas19 wrote:
Quinkish wrote:It's not just the accent either - pronunciation can be a problem and I've heard some British names badly mangled: Marlborough is one that springs to mind!

One problem is that online pronunciation guides to "English" tend to give you the American pronunciation so it's difficult to get right.
I often use http://howjsay.com/ which gives the RP pronunciation.

I've heard English place-names pronounced in very odd ways indeed. I find it especially strange when I hear people pronounce Worcester (my city of birth) as if it were Worchester. Where does the 'ch' sound come from? It's supposed to sound something like Wooster.
Ahh, In the defense of the indefensible, I once heard a British chap reading American place names. Willamette was Will-a-mett-e instead Wil-lam-it, and Yo-sem-it-e as Yose-mite. BUT I forgave him liberally, especially because I pronounced Yosemite the same way up to a few days before I heard his version. But that is neither here nor there!
Anyone can read accurately. [i]I[/i] read with great expression.

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Post by russiandoll » March 17th, 2010, 10:18 am

catchpenny wrote:...Yo-sem-it-e as Yose-mite. BUT I forgave him liberally, especially because I pronounced Yosemite the same way up to a few days before I heard his version.
Hmm, I learned that particular one at a very early age, thanks to the Warner Brothers Pronunciation Academy. You never went?
English is the lingua franca par excellence

catchpenny
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Post by catchpenny » March 17th, 2010, 10:42 am

Well, considering I quite seriously told my Mother there are two words that mean not overt, hidden; one called sub-tle and one that I have never seen written only spoken (pronounced su-tle ) the academy didn't help much.
I think I read to much.
Anyone can read accurately. [i]I[/i] read with great expression.

Villette
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Post by Villette » April 3rd, 2010, 6:44 pm

I don't really mind a fake accent unless it is just truly frightful.

Being a Southerner, I spent a bit of time while watching Cold Mountain wondering, "Where the hell are these people supposed to be from?" Eventually I decided that it didn't much matter, they were obviously doing their best at producing a "Southern" dialect -- without much precision about where in the South (Flag Pond, TN? Savannah, GA? Charleston, NC?) the accents were sometimes not 100% suited to the character, but, I eventually acclimated and let it slide.

I myself am decent but not great at imitating accents, and I haven't decided if I think I should use accents to distinguish "foreign" characters in my future reading endeavours.

Just don't do something strange like in Webber's "Phantom" where all the characters speak with a British accent, whether they are French or Swedish or whatever, except for one (Mme Giry) who mysteriously speaks with a French accent. Try to be consistent. ;)

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Post by gypsygirl » April 3rd, 2010, 6:58 pm

Villette wrote:I don't really mind a fake accent unless it is just truly frightful.

Being a Southerner, I spent a bit of time while watching Cold Mountain wondering, "Where the hell are these people supposed to be from?" Eventually I decided that it didn't much matter, they were obviously doing their best at producing a "Southern" dialect -- without much precision about where in the South (Flag Pond, TN? Savannah, GA? Charleston, NC?) the accents were sometimes not 100% suited to the character, but, I eventually acclimated and let it slide.
There was a comment like this in a review of a production I was in of Dancing at Lughnasa. Five of the characters are sisters who've always lived together in the same little village in Ireland, and would be expected to have similar accents. The reviewer's comment was, "Well, they all sound Irish, but I don't know from what parts of Ireland"
Karen S.

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Post by neckertb » April 7th, 2010, 1:13 pm

Funnily enough the only accent I can do for real is French. I mean, I have an accent, which apparently is a bit of a mix, but I can get an extreeeemme French accent when needed. However, no way I can fake a German or Danish accent, don't ask me why. Actually cannot fake French accent in Danish either (I mean besides the one I already have), but I can do Danish accent in German...
So I also try and stick to what I can do, but I really hate when the book is written "with the accent", since most of the times I have no clue how to render it...
Five of the characters are sisters who've always lived together in the same little village in Ireland, and would be expected to have similar accents.
Actually, I think that is not always the case. My oldest brother, who moved to Southern France when he was 6, has gotten the local accent, while my youngest brother who was only 1 at the time never did...
Nadine

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jedopi
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Post by jedopi » April 30th, 2010, 12:37 pm

Well, I decided to do it - record a book using a "fake accent". It is called Tempest and Sunshine and it takes place in Kentucky during the pre civil-war era. Now, living up here in Ontario, Canada I really don't know the difference between a Kentucky accent or a New Orleans accent or even a Texas accent so I hope all of you southerners out there will forgive me. :wink:

I'm just doing it because I think the book will be more "believable" that way. If the characters are from the south - they should sound like they are from the south. I'm doing my best so please don't be too harsh if you happen to listen to my recording. :roll: http://librivox.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=25532&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

Oh, and just a reminder for anyone who does happen to listen - the "N" word is used a few times in the story. That doesn't mean that I approve of it (because I don't) just because I am recording the book. I just happen to like historical fiction and I'm sorry to say, that they used to talk that way. :(

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Post by russiandoll » April 30th, 2010, 1:53 pm

jedopi wrote:... if you happen to listen to my recording.
A friendly reminder to all that files from projects in progress should not be downloaded and listened to by all and sundry (and certainly should not linked to from elsewhere on the web) because the server the files are temporarily stored on is not set up for that sort of traffic - as a wise man once said, "She cannae take it, Captain." The 'listen' links are provided to be useful to those involved, not as entertainment for those who aren't. I'm sure you meant 'if you happen to listen to my recording when it's finished', right, jedopi? :wink:
Good luck with it.
rd
English is the lingua franca par excellence

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