I just read an article and it was all about the different accents and dialects used in Hollywood. I find it very interesting how many actors and actresses have to go to a dialect/accent coach to be able to play a part in these roles. I remember in high school I was obsessed with the show House. I was never really into celebrities or kept up with who was born where and their personal lives, or even their names. I would refer to people as, “you know that person that plays …..”. When I first heard Hugh Laurie (the guy that plays House) speak in an interview, I was shocked! I never put two and two together, that people can just be trained for different accents and dialects and just play all these different characters. I always thought that you had to try out for a part that you were naturally able to do (clearly I don’t get out much). The funny thing about the show was that House had an American English accent but was played by a British man, and another doctor on the show (I can’t remember his name) played a British character but was an American man.
The article spoke about all the different celebrities and how many different actors come from all over the world, and the different type of training they receive in order to portray the character the best that they can. They also spoke a little bit about the different dialects within the U.S. For example, many people say “cot” for caught” in the midwest region. I had a professor that pronounced it that way, and we had a class on different examples of how people can pronounce different things all different ways. The article made a very good point to international actors/actresses that spelling is irrelevant when it comes to pronunciation. English is extremely complicated when it comes to spelling and pronunciation as we can all remember being beyond confused in Kindergarten and the first grade.
There aren’t many professional dialect/accent coaches out there and many of the stars in Hollywood use the same one. Lessons can go any where from $100 to more than $400 an hour. I will definitely be looking into this as my new career (just kidding… maybe). It is something to look into though!
3 thoughts on “Dialects in Hollywood”
I read this article a few months back and immediately was like ” Maybe I’ve found another viable job option? Something my knowledge of linguistics can help with!”
It is really interesting to think that most of the differences in English accents are all on the vowels that we use. It doesn’t account for everything, but it’s a big part of it. There is a man on youtube whose videos I watched where he teaches people to how to produce different accents (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwny52Ncatk&t=76s%5C) Especially now, being in a phonetics class and learning all these new sounds that I am not familiar with, at all, I’m learning the subtle differences in the sounds produced in all languages.
Also, when you mention orthography being irrelevant, it is so true. One of the first things I learned from Intro to Linguistics is how the way we spell things is not truly helpful in knowing how to pronounce things.
Not necessarily related, but I heard from a graduate student in Linguistics that many Hollywood stars marry their speech therapist. I don’t think this is true, but thought I’d share.
Awesome post Lissette!
I was always fascinated in how people are able to speak in different accents. I don’t if any of you have ever noticed this but in addition to actors, there are so many singers that I’ve heard that I did not know were of British origin until having heard them in an interview (Conor Maynard and Craig David, to name a few!). How mind boggling! It’s as if they lose their accent entirely when singing!
Being exposed to different languages growing up (Urdu from childhood, learning Spanish in middle school and high school, and taking Arabic in college), I have been told that I have a knack for speaking with the right accent in each respective language. But looking back, it wasn’t something I naturally learned. All my teachers had a huge role in helping me develop these accents for each language; and all without me having to pay (haha!) It’s amazing that actors and actresses take these accent modification courses to make themselves more versatile in the world of Hollywood!
Also in regards to accent modification therapy, my Phonetics professor told me about a year ago that Speech Language Pathologists have also started working with transgender individuals to help them modify their voices to be perceived more with the gender their identify with! I think this is an very interesting advancement in Speech Language Pathology. Maybe you and Moné can look more into this as a future career path.
Thanks for sharing.
This was a great read, Lissette!
Similar to actors/actresses, I also never paid attention to the fact that American news reporters mostly all speak alike as well. It was only in my phonetics class that I became aware of the fact that many take accent modification courses to remove their regional accents.
Also, in regards to what @zianjaffery mentioned, I remember reading about British singers and how many thought it was peculiar that they lost their accent when singing. One of my speech professors told us that the melody changes the intonation and the vowels are elongated when singing, so the British accent becomes diminished and begins to sound like a regular American English accent.
Also, (in case anyone is interested) one of my friends who wants to work with the transgender community as an SLP applied to NYU’s speech program in particular because their speech clinic works on transgender voice modification.