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Why Are Fantasy World Accents British?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the consolation-prize-for-losing-the-colonies dept.

United Kingdom 516

kodiaktau writes "An interesting article from the BBC News Magazine explores the reasons why most fantasy worlds use British as their primary accent. Citing specific examples from recent and upcoming shows and movies like Lord of The Rings, The Hobbit and Game of Thrones, the article concludes British accents are 'sufficiently exotic,' 'comprehensible' and have a 'splash of otherness.' It would be odd to think of a fantasy world having a New Jersey accent, or even a Mid-West accent, which tends to be the default for TV and movies in the U.S., but how do UK viewers feel about having British as a default? More specifically, what about the range of UK accents, like Scottish, Welsh, Cockney? The International Dialects of English Archive shows at least nine regional sounds, with dozens of sub-regional pronunciations in England alone. In the U.S., there have always been many regional accents that might be used in interesting ways. Filmmakers should consider looking at speech accents from other areas of the world to create more interesting dialects."

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516 comments

Abstraction (5, Interesting)

bigtomrodney (993427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527065)

I have to agree with this article, I've always assumed it was just the American preconception of "old worlde". Different enough to be remote but still in the same language.

On the other hand as an Irishman I often find it hard to find escapism in Irish TV and to a lesser extent, film. The familiarity of it all doesn't work as well while on the other hand so much of our media is American that even when I visit the USA there is an element of otherworldliness about the whole experience.

Now think in American. (4, Funny)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527163)

Imagine The Lord of the Rings where all the Hobbits had Brooklyn accents.

Other enough to be unusual but still understandable but evoking an entirely different genre (mafia crime drama).

Re:Now think in American. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527475)

Remember Rome [imdb.com] . They used accents from all over the place (mostly UK variants it has to be said) to give a feeling of being different, but still understandable. It worked really well.

British accents tend to used for villains too... which could be seen as insulting... but actually is quite flattering when you think about it. Really scary villains are intelligent... really intelligent... and Americans associate British accents with being smart (wrongly, but there it is).

Re:Now think in American. (3, Interesting)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527559)

There's an air of traditionality about it, as well, I think; it's as if to imply that American accents are divergent from the original core. (Although this is somewhat in question, as the evidence says that English pronunciation was rhotic in the 18th Century, like the General American accent and not like Received Pronunciation.) It was particularly peculiar to hear Americans making movies about Russians [imdb.com] where they all had English accents.

Re:Now think in American. (4, Funny)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527557)

Imagine Romeo & Juliet set in NYC with singing & dancing street gangs....oh, wait

Re:Now think in American. (0, Troll)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527581)

How about just straight standard American? (Sometimes called TV english.)

I think it's silly to impose a British accent when the original characters were speaking Middle English (Shakespeare), Old English (King Arthur, Beowulf), Latin (Rome movies), or Celtic (anything pre-Roman). These old or ancient peoples were definitely NOT speaking modern british.

Re:Now think in American. (3, Informative)

PatPending (953482) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527611)

Imagine The Lord of the Rings where all the Hobbits had Brooklyn accents.

Fah gedda boudit [youtube.com]

Re:Abstraction (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527225)

On the other hand as an Irishman I often find it hard to find escapism in Irish TV and to a lesser extent, film. The familiarity of it all doesn't work as well...

So a New Jersey ("New Joisey") accent would sell in Ireland? Does Bugs Bunny sound sexy to you?

...that even when I visit the USA there is an element of otherworldliness about the whole experience.

Even we in the USA experience such when we turn on Fox News ;-)

Re:Abstraction (4, Informative)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527653)

Bugs Bunny has a Brooklyn accent.

Re:Abstraction (2)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527639)

Here's another thought: Think about Vikings specifically. Most often, they are portrayed with either English or Scottish accents (usually the more brutish characters get Scottish) and occasionally Californian (particularly children or teens). Why?

Please take a moment, and imagine Mighty Thor making his presence known in a bouncing, Swedish lilt. Not one that necessarily does the Swedes justice (many speak English in a very near British accent), but something more like the Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show.

Now pick yourself up off the floor where you were just ROFLing and consider the question answered :)

Re:Abstraction (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527773)

Shouldn't Thor sound.. Icelandic? I mean, after all that's the language we got which is least removed from the ur-nordic language (whatever that may have been).

Re:Abstraction (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527803)

Well a lot of the fantasy films have a medieval themes to them. So it make sense that they would have an English accent. Because American, Australian, Canadian... Accents are post Medieval times, so you want to have an accent from an area that experience the medieval culture. You could use an accent from an other nation however. Their accent is more from not naively speaking the English language and putting their native languages inflections into the language. So for a movie that is in English British English will seem the most authentic.

Because to Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527069)

They sound fancy and smart. Even the dumbest character with a British accent sounds smarter.

Not all fantasy embraces this though. If you look at a show like True Blood, it has a wide mix, and due to its setting, is largely southern United States.

Re:Because to Americans (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527383)

Even the dumbest character with a British accent sounds smarter.

At the same time, characters with a Jersey accent sound arrogant and idiotic, a southern drawl makes them sound dumb, hick, and quite possibly inbred and crazy, and a Texan accent makes them sound Texan.

Re:Because to Americans (4, Funny)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527613)

Ouch, that's pretty harsh on them thar Texans.

Re:Because to Americans (3, Funny)

iceaxe (18903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527699)

... a Texan accent makes them sound Texan.

Strider sidles into the Prancing Pony, spurs jingling.

STRIDER:

Howdy, y'all!

BUTTERBUR:

Whatcha drankin', pardner?

Re:Because to Americans (1)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527501)

Actually I think it's just run-of-the-mill affirmative action.

You have to let the minority dialect have it's own niche, however insignificant.

why do you have a northern accent? (5, Funny)

msheekhah (903443) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527079)

Lots of places have a north.

Re:why do you have a northern accent? (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527405)

Yeah, but northern Argentina is a far cry from northern Canada or even Montana.

Re:why do you have a northern accent? (2)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527783)

True, but no so far a cry from northern Gallifrey. Oh wait....

Obvious... (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527089)

Do we even need to be asking such an obvious question? British is the foreign language that Americans are most likely to understand...

Re:Obvious... (2)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527367)

I've heard some of those British shows. I find it easier to understand Spanish. And I don't even SPEAK Spanish.

Re:Obvious... (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527679)

Yeah, you're "Normal for Norfolk."

Re:Obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527423)

I thought it was to appeal to wider audiences. You know, women who would find british accent to be more appealing. Nobody in the male audience care what the characters sound like.

Re:Obvious... (2)

gnick (1211984) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527469)

I know you're making a joke, but my preschooler's teacher (English but in New Mexico) was going to visit her family and was asked whether or not they spoke English in England... When she told me that my response was that they may know a version of English, but they certainly don't speak American. I think I'll go smoke a fag and hit the loo. Bloody hell. Bullocks.

Re:Obvious... (3, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527521)

Bollocks!

Re:Obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527707)

Someone has to do it...

I'ts because we're

"...two countries divided by a common language."

-The esteemed Mr. Shaw

Re:Obvious... (2)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527763)

Do we even need to be asking such an obvious question? British is the foreign language that Americans are most likely to understand...

Perhaps the more obvious question is why do you consider "British" a foreign language? Or one that Americans need to "understand"?

Re:Obvious... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527771)

If you don't then raving nutcases will come flooding out of the woodwork can call you a flaming racist. They will criticize you for which accents you apply to which characters (like Lucas).

Simple, really (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527105)

Brits are a bunch of poofters who enjoy giving each others' anuses a good rodgering

I'm glad we kicked them out of our country 200+ years ago. They were really turning the place into a shithole.

Re:Simple, really (4, Funny)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527161)

You wouldn't use terms such as "poofter" and "rodgering" unless you were a closest Brit. Admitting it would be the first step towards healing.

Re:Simple, really (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527257)

actually, we took their colony away from them, but i'm totally fine with that. they really were shitting where they ate.

Re:Simple, really (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527509)

Mmm. So I guess the complete disgrace of a nation that America has become over the last 200 years or so is down to you guys then. Good to know.

As for how gay the two societies are, a quick google search "gay percentage uk|us" will reveal that there are more people identifying themselves as gay in the US. It's hard to draw any firm conclusions from that (societal pressures are different in different regions of both countries, and that drives a lot of the self-identification) but the little data we have seems to support that there's more openly-gay people in the USA than in the UK, by percentage of population - obviously there's more gay people in the USA than the UK by headcount!

Not to mention that if the UK was entirely gay as you suggest, the society would have necessarily ceased to exist by now whereas it seems to be going reasonably well over in Blighty...

  - Free healthcare to all, at much cheaper rates than the US private healthcare system. I've tried both, and I'd take the NHS in a heart-beat.
  - Significantly subsidized education. You don't come out of college desperate to find a job to pay off your immense loans.
  - They're not currently at war with any chemicals, nouns, or indeed any nation-states as far as I'm aware.
  - There's no gate-rape or sanctioned government-grope at the borders
  - They don't have 1 in every 31 adults [wikipedia.org] behind bars or on parole / being monitored. Think about that for a second. One in Thirty-one.
  - They live longer, and have less infant deaths
  - They have a genuine choice in politics - left, center, or right. As opposed to right and crazy-town here in the US.
  - Their police won't handcuff you, lie you on the floor, then shoot you dead [wikipedia.org] on a subway train.
  - No metal-detectors needed at schools. Schools, for $deity sake!
  - There's no software patents :)

All told, the UK society seems to be functioning as well as any enlightened Western society should, unlike the USA. On the other hand, California has good weather. Can't think of any other reasons to prefer the US over the UK...

Old World (5, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527113)

For Americans, I would assume it's because we associate fantasy with the Old World because that's where most of our myths and legends originate. And they have castles. And among the Old World, England is our closest tie (as well as speaking the same language). The majority of fantasy settings are basically just medieval-Europe-plus-wizards-and-dragons even if a location isn't given (or it takes place on another world)

Re:Old World (0)

immaterial (1520413) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527263)

It's unfortunate my mod points just ran out. This is exactly what I've always thought of as the reason for British accents in fantasy media. Someone else mod the parent up for me!

Re:Old World (2)

MorderVonAllem (931645) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527335)

Interestingly enough the British accent we so associate with England came about after the Revolutionary war. I don't recall the source off the top of my head but it's probably on wikipedia.

Re:Old World (3, Informative)

bigtomrodney (993427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527643)

Is it Received Pronunciation [wikipedia.org] that you're referring to?

Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit are ABOUT England (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527117)

Of course the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit use British accents -- they're written by an English author and are fundamentally ABOUT England (a.k.a. the Shire).

Re:Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit are ABOUT Engl (4, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527157)

One does not merely walk into Parliament.

However, one can try to merely tunnel under Parliament with a good bit of gunpowder...

Re:Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit are ABOUT Engl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527735)

you mean aboot, right?

(I am Canadian so I can get away with this)

Age (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527119)

It's a question of cultural depth - America is largely a cultural offshoot of the UK. So when you want a voice for a 'centuries old' sort of tale, you go British. Conversely, the American accent has an association with Modern.

Re:Age (2)

gnick (1211984) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527629)

That's what I was thinking - England is old school compared to the US. And for a large part, big budget movies are tailored for American audiences and the rest of the world is a secondary market that will contribute any way.

For example, last time I was in Europe I stayed with my father in Vienna - His apartment was a couple of hundred years older than the United States. My duplex in the US is ancient because it was built all the way back in the 50's.

Dragons and wizards are from a long time ago - English. Star Wars/Galactica/others are in the future (or at least a galaxy far, far away) - American.

Medieval times (3, Insightful)

neonv (803374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527125)

Most fantasy settings are based in medieval times, and America didn't have English, let alone feudalism and other aspects common in fantasy novels. British accents just fit the real world time period we associate with fantasy settings.

Re:Medieval times (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527311)

But medieval English wasn't much like what they speak in the fantasy movies!

Dwarves (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527131)

Any why are Dwarves always Scottish?

Re:Dwarves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527189)

probably has to do with Constitution,

Re:Dwarves (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527219)

Because We Scots are manly dorfs who punch trees down and eat them for breakfast before we go to work in the mines.

Re:Dwarves (2)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527449)

Because We Scotch are manly dorfs who punch trees down...

There, I've corrected that for you.

Re:Dwarves (2)

bigtomrodney (993427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527697)

Scotch adj; a largely obsolescent adjective meaning having to do with Scotland and usually now considered pejorative (unless related to food or drink).

Re:Dwarves (2)

halivar (535827) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527733)

Because we Scotch

I'll have what he's having, bartender.

Re:Dwarves (3, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527245)

Any why are Dwarves always Scottish?

Have you ever *heard* a Scottish person talk? C'mon.

Karen Gillan = sexiest dwarf ever!

Re:Dwarves (1)

musicalmicah (1532521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527517)

Actually, one of the things I love about the Dragon Age games is that the Dwarves have an American accent. They are also fiercely independent, look down on other cultures, and have an incredibly stratified yet still somewhat democratic society. It seems fitting.

Care attempt (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527133)

Engaging Care Mechanism ...3 ...2 ...1 ...0

System fault. Care Mechanism disengaged.

I do not care.

Re:Care attempt (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527717)

If you had a good ol' fashioned mechanical care drive you could just put some sand on your care clutch to get 'er running in a pinch.

Also fantasy = medieval (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527135)

Of course another main reason is that general fantasy is most closely linked with the European medieval period. In that period English speakers were generally going to be speaking with an accent from Great Britain. It would strike us as strange to hear someone in a historical medieval period using a NJ accent for much the same reason that it does in fantasy.

More importantly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527159)

Everybody everywhere appears to speak English natively. Stories from far away lands...

It's obvious: (1)

OneMadMuppet (1329291) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527171)

Good SciFi / Fantasy is filmed outside the US - Game of Thrones and Dr. Who in the UK, and LotR in NZ.

SWTOR (2)

Garnaralf (595872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527187)

Well, I know in Star Wars: The Old Republic, the British accent is to emphasize the Empire part of the Sith Empire. The Rebellion, or Republic, side uses an American accent. That, and the original Star Wars used a whole lot of British actors.

Is it really a mystery? (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527211)

"Fantasy" themes are generally based on mythical creatures and legends that stem from the UK. Hell even today you can't scan through 8hrs of BBC without finding something that is based on Robin Hood, Arthur/Merlin, Druids, or Sherlock Holmes so apparently the UK associates the UK with these themes as well. They even continue to add to it, the latest popular addition being Harry Potter. Again tying sorcery with the UK.

Re:Is it really a mystery? (3, Funny)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527667)

"Fantasy" themes are generally based on mythical creatures and legends that stem from the UK. Hell even today you can't scan through 8hrs of BBC without finding something that is based on Robin Hood, Arthur/Merlin, Druids, or Sherlock Holmes so apparently the UK associates the UK with these themes as well. They even continue to add to it, the latest popular addition being Harry Potter. Again tying sorcery with the UK.

Yes, and what does the US have to offer in the way of rich cultural brogue?

Jersey Shore.

No wonder people look elsewhere to try and put an emphasis on rich culture in fantasy. Needless to say, you're not going to get the same look at feel with a fat orange midget running around Hogwarts looking for the tanning salon.

Absolutely silly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527239)

So, they cite two movies based on books by a BRITISH author and a third that is (as far as I can tell from not watching it) set in a variant of medieval England.

The real question they should ask is why not all Robin Hoods can speak with an English accent.

Re:Absolutely silly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527805)

The real question they should ask is why not all Robin Hoods can speak with an English accent.

It's not our fault. They changed their accent [google.com] after we got here.

Why do they use foreign accents.... (1)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527267)

...in American movies set in non-English speaking countries?

This dawned on me while watching "The Reader" -- Kate Winslet speaks her lines in English, with a German accent during the course of the movie.

Either the entire movie should be in German with subtitles, or the actors should all speak their lines in a common accent of English. It makes no sense to have a film set in a "foreign" country have its actors speak their lines in English accented by the locale's native language.

It kind of makes me wonder if a German movie set in America has its actors speak German with an American English accent.

Re:Why do they use foreign accents.... (2)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527457)

That should be obvious. The target audience doesn't want to have to read. The accents keep reminding you that you are in a different country.

It's no different from the ridiculous computer programs that crime dramas use. They want to tell you what the computer is doing without either the actors explaining it, or having to read anything other than the word "Searching..." while faces pop up on a screen.

I think it's the best of both worlds - maintaining the culture as well as possible, but integrating the audience's native language. I would never watch a dubbed film, because I want the actor's natural expression to match physically and verbally.

The only time it sucks is when the accent is terribly done. Then it's a travesty.

Re:Why do they use foreign accents.... (1)

puregen1us (648116) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527511)

Traditionally WWII movies use English actors to play Nazis too - for most of the 20th century anyway, less so more recently.

The stronger, more aristocratic and English the accent, the more evil the Nazi.

Re:Why do they use foreign accents.... (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527723)

It kind of makes me wonder if a German movie set in America has its actors speak German with an American English accent.

That's just silly talk. It's the rest of the world that has accents - We talk normal.

The shortest answer (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527287)

Because Peter Cushing and Chritopher Lee are British. Precedent wins.

Maybe because that is where they are based on? (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527297)

It might have something to do with the fact that the fictional country Game of Thrones is set in (at least in the TV show, not very subtly either) is based off of England. The politics and geography bears an extremely striking resemblance.

And Tolkien (British) created the Shire in The Hobbit and LotR based off British countryside. Fantasy, in particular, is almost universally set in a Middle-Age-England-type setting and is often based heavily off of their mythology. It almost wouldn't make sense not to have a British accent. Don't blame the Americans: the British were doing that a long time before Americans were (hell, before America was even a colony). And of course Narnia (by C.S. Lewis, British) is actually set partly in England as is Harry Potter (again, a British writer).

obvious (1)

alienzed (732782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527299)

because there are lots of English actors and it's not that hard to train to sound that way? Imagine trying to teach an entire acting crew to speak a 'new' accent. There'd be no reference, no clear marker for success.

Re:obvious (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527461)

What irritates me is that why, with all those rather good British actors, they keep having to bring in Americans with bad English accents to replace them. I watched the Nanny McPhee sequel and kept thinking through the whole film, "Surely they could have gone out on to the street and found someone with a better accent that Maggie Gyllenhaal."

Brings up the question (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527313)

It just brings up the question: Why does british television (and others, like discovery channel) want their programs to sound like fantasy.

In the Netherlands, its commonly accepted to use common dutch on television, even if the talker has another native dialect, about everyone can -and will- speak common dutch. A slight belgian accent will be forgiven, but on the other hand, its usually what it is - an accent, not the dialect.

However, when i watch something british, it seems they have some fetisjism to use the most obscure scottish, welsh or irish dialect they can find, and any narrator is free to use it. High british - the stuff we learned at school, is something rarely heard. And we just sit, pondering, why...

here's the real reason why .. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527329)

its because most of the good fantasy writing was British...
next please ..

Because these fantasies are based on Britain (4, Insightful)

mattdm (1931) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527337)

Westeros is transparently (if not particularly faithfully) based on a fantastic reinterpretation of Britain, right down to the the Wall [wikipedia.org] and the . And all the knights and chivalery (and non-chivalery) and so on are clearly Arthurian legend, which is unquestionably British even if it owes a big debt to France — which, speaking of, is of course right across the "narrow sea". Middle Earth is less literal with the geography, but Tolkien has said (were it not already obvious!) that the Shire is rural Britain in spirit, so of course the hobbits speak with the appropriate accent.

Re:Because these fantasies are based on Britain (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527505)

Westeros is more like western Europe, not just Britain.

Re:Because these fantasies are based on Britain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527597)

Specifically, George R R Martin was inspired by the Wars of the Roses. Hence the emphasis on bastards and heraldry.

Reading Stories To Kids (1)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527345)

I'm an oft requested storyteller at school events because I make up voices for all the characters, and yes, I fall into the trap of giving most characters regional british accents. Bad guys frequently end up with some non-specific eastern european accent, and some more exotic characters get asian or scandinavian tilts.

But I never use american accents... not sure why, I just don't find enough characters that fit.

Why? (0)

Higgins_Boson (2569429) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527369)

Probably for the very same reason gladiator movies set in Rome use British accents -- no real discernible reason.

Star Wars Accents (2)

Baby Duck (176251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527371)

Filmmakers should consider looking at speech accents from other areas of the world to create more interesting dialects.

It's dangerous thinking such as that which lead to the atrocity known as Jar Jar Binks. In all seriousness, look at the accents of Watto, Yoda, the head honchos of the Trade Federation, Emperor Palpatine, Admiral Ackbar, Jango Fett, etc.

Re:Star Wars Accents (2)

sacdelta (135513) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527569)

And the use of those accents led to accusations of ethnic stereotyping. It's a very dangerous path to traverse in our hypersensitive society and I don't blame filmmakers from avoiding the subject altogether.

I love your accent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527417)

Omg I absolutely adore being told by American women many times a week that I "love your accent". I'm never going back. Clearly no-one here has heard of either the Revolutionary War or watched Star Wars. Heaven.

why does the Geico Gecko have a British accent? (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527429)

I'm not an advertising exec, but I bet you there is some study some where that Americans subconsciously associate British accents with greater trustworthiness and/ or authority

As for fantasy worlds: I disagree, the fantasy worlds cited are specifically medieval in quality, which conjures Europeanness, which conjures Britishness, as Americans don't deal well with foreign languages: no Flemish cave trolls or Hungarian dragons, for example (nevermind Cornish, Welsh, or Gaelic).

If we were talking FUTURE fantasy worlds, Avatar or Star Trek, for example, there is no association with Britishness. Although, Australian accents and actors figure heavily in that realm. Which is a whole other subject matter?:

Britain: the past, Australia: the future, from an American perspective.

(sorry Kiwis, Americans tend to group your accent with Australia, I don't want to step on any issues of national pride here)

Only in english speaking Countries. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527445)

Thaht's Easy Peasy, Int it?
England has had English as a language longer and so if the Accent is English you know it is Old and High Mystical. An English accent just doesn't work when you dub a Film in to Spanish or Cantonese though.

It makes perfect sense (1)

quietwalker (969769) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527473)

... how else can you explain why all dwarves speak with a Scottish accent?

There's no such thing as a "British" accent. (0)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527499)

My accent sounds completely different from everyone I live near, although I grew up only a couple of hundred miles away. I drove to a customer site 30 miles away from my workshop, and everyone sounds totally different again. If I drive from my house down to the south of England, I'll pass through about a dozen areas with different regional accents.

Saying "British accent" makes about as much sense as saying "American accent" - people from Texas don't talk like people from Maine, do they?

Re:There's no such thing as a "British" accent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527673)

Derp. When people say "a British accent" they mean one of the many British accents. They don't mean "the British accent". And yes, saying "an American accent" does make sense. A Texas accent is an American accent and certainly isn't a British accent.

Re:There's no such thing as a "British" accent. (4, Insightful)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527737)

Absolutely correct, and yet also so wrong. Yes, there are regional British accents, but when considered as a whole they are clearly distinct from American ones. Any fool can identify that someone from Cornwall or Glasgow is clearly not American, and if you take someone from New Jersey or Texas nobody is going to mistake them for someone from Yorkshire.

Re:There's no such thing as a "British" accent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527793)

A Lamborghini is very different from a Porsche, but "sports cars" is still a valid group.

Next question: (3, Insightful)

kwark (512736) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527531)

Why are is the evil scientists always speaking with a German accent?

The "Mid-West" accent? (3, Funny)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527533)

...Mid-West accent...

Wait, we have an accent?
I mean, there are jokes about California "valley girls" and Brooklyn accents, but those are stereotypes and most people from the coasts don't actually talk like that. So... if the universal average of the English language is the "Mid-West" accent... wouldn't that mean we don't have an accent?

Re:The "Mid-West" accent? (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527681)

...Mid-West accent...

Wait, we have an accent?

I mean, there are jokes about California "valley girls" and Brooklyn accents, but those are stereotypes and most people from the coasts don't actually talk like that. So... if the universal average of the English language is the "Mid-West" accent... wouldn't that mean we don't have an accent?

There's no such thing as "not having an accent." Everyone has an accent. You always sound different to somebody. Go to Scotland and you'll stand out a mile with your American accent.

(Who said "universal average of the English language is the "Mid-West" accent" anyway? Is that in TFA or something? If ever a citation was needed it was with that bizarre statement!)

Obvious (3, Funny)

mr_spatula (126119) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527561)

Because there's no better fantasy shared by the common public than to escape to than one of rainy weather, bland food, a stifling bureaucracy, and one of the largest surveillance networks concieved of.

It's obviously a made-up world, with their shillings and their stones - one where cars wear boots... I mean, that's just pure insanity.

GPS must be British! (2)

markdavis (642305) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527601)

I can't wait to hear the answer from our British friends. As an American, I have an odd fascination for the British accent (and Australian accent too) and love hearing it. I even set my GPS to speak British English instead of American English. Seems I am certainly not alone in this, either.

How about it? Do the British (and even Australians) have any similar fascination with hearing American accents?

Accent fail (2)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527621)

Anyone ever see that godawful film Alexander starring Colin Farrel as Alex the Great? They gave the Macedonians Irish accents! That was even more distracting than the constant jumping back and forth between three different time periods and creepy chemistry between Farrel and Angelina Jolie who was supposed to be his mom!

Isn't it just down to Tolkien? (2)

nickrjsmith (1407237) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527635)

Is it not just because the classic fantasy authors (Tolkien/Carol) are English? Just like American villains are always English due to the English being the baddies during the American civil war?

Except in The UK, of course (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527651)

" Citing specific examples from recent and upcoming shows and movies like Lord of The Rings, The Hobbit and Game of Thrones, the article concludes British accents are 'sufficiently exotic,' 'comprehensible' and have a 'splash of otherness.'"

Or, they could just sound like everyone around you if you live in the UK...

There is no such thing as a "Midwest Accent" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39527683)

There is no such thing as a "Midwest Accent". What the original poster meant to write was, "without an accent" - i.e. - not mispronouncing vowels. If you pronounce vowels in the standard by-the-book way, you get a Dakota-Nebraska-Iowa-Colorado accent. Or proper speech. Understandable by everyone - which is why literally ALL U.S. newscasters regardless of location or market, strive to speak in this manner.

Different accents? (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527687)

Right. Jar Jar Binks was a great idea.

Australian Accents (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527767)

Work pretty well in place of British ones in fantasy and sci-fi settings (think Farscape). Same for Irish. The South African accents in District 9 weren't bad either. Any of them impart "otherness" to an American audience.

Chris Perkins, DM (1)

avajcovec (717275) | more than 2 years ago | (#39527811)

I find it interesting to watch Chris Perkins DM for the Penny Arcade guys in the Dungeons & Dragons games they've played. He seems to make an effort to use a variety of accents (and voices) to keep his characters interesting. He even went with Southern-California-Surfer for one character in the 2010 live game at PAX.

PAX 2010 Live D&D Game, Part 1 [youtube.com]

PAX 2011 Live D&D Game, Part 1 [youtube.com]

PA / PVP D&D Podcasts [wizards.com]

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