Author Topic: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?  (Read 770 times)

Father Bruno

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WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« on: January 16, 2016, 12:37:53 PM »
If you watch old movies, or even old news reels from the early to mid decades from last century a certain accent prevails throughout which is referred to as the Midatlantic or the Transatlantic accent.

This interesting, but rather short video breaks down the rather unique history of this learned accent.

SPEAK WITH DISTINCTION': WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?

During the holiday my sisters and I were reminiscing about days long past and the subject of this accent came up as we had some Great Aunts and Uncles who spoke this way. We were mimicking the way they would pronounce our names and say "Merry Christmas" when visiting during the holidays. (My Uncle Alphonse sounded exactly like Cary Grant when he spoke) They spoke very precisely and distinctly, as noted in the video.

Here's another video regarding this transatlantic accent, which draws attention to the British influence of this accent, as well as the possible necessity required of it from the early radio days. I find most fascinating that it is a learned accent and not one that developed naturally.



I apologize in advance to our friends in the UK for the host's terrible attempt at a British accent.
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Re: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2016, 01:22:29 PM »
I quite like the transatlantic accent gives old films a certain naivety. but then Marlon Brando Happened and every male actor started to mumble.

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Re: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2016, 02:45:06 PM »
A few people came by the Mid-Atlantic accent naturally. Alistair Cooke springs to mind. I listened to his "Letter From America" faithfully for years. It was a real delight to listen to.  :smilenod:


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Re: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2016, 01:13:09 AM »
Very interesting.
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Claireliontamer

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Re: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2016, 03:57:22 AM »
Robin Cooke was British though,  so surely his accent is the opposite of the old US film stars in that his was British and influenced by north American accents.

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Re: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2016, 04:57:10 AM »
Robin Cooke was British though,  so surely his accent is the opposite of the old US film stars in that his was British and influenced by north American accents.

Yes, the origin of Alistair Cooke's accent was from the opposite direction, but it was described completely correctly as "mid-Atlantic," and he was not the only British expatriate whose speech would qualify as "mid-Atlantic." Interestingly, the link describes his conscious effort to modify his accent, just as certain Americans did in modifying theirs toward English (RP) pronunciation.
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Claireliontamer

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Re: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2016, 10:50:49 AM »
I think modifying your accent to fit in is quite normal.  I know I lost a lot of my Yorkshire accent at university as I was away from home and with people from all over the UK, many who had come from posh independent schools.  My accent is now more or less gone unless I'm back talking to aunts and uncles who still have the strong yorkie tones. 

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Re: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2016, 07:27:28 AM »
I became aquatinted with Alistair Cooke through his work on PBS with Masterpiece Theatre, loved those old films...but when I listen now to the his voice on the clip Recusant provided it's uncanny how much it reminds me of so many of my older relatives whom have since passed away.

Years ago it was common in the schools to teach what was referred to as proper pronunciation, but they've since phased those out. I had some classes when I was elementary school. (Same with proper penmanship)

I quite like the transatlantic accent gives old films a certain naivety. but then Marlon Brando Happened and every male actor started to mumble.


But one thing Marlon gave us was a more realistic acting technique not seen up to that point don't you think? It got actors away from the stage techniques that were so popular in films up to that point. Such as raising the back of the hand to the forehead to signify anguish or despair (He was a student of Stella Adler).

I like the naivety of the old films as well and am a huge fan of those movies, but I appreciate the subtle and more insightful details that actors like Brando or De Niro bring to a character, which is missing is many older films I think.

Anyway I love hearing the old accents especially the transatlantic one, and being a sentimental fool such as I am it brings about a certain nostalgic.

Now I'm curious to hear how all of you sound. And I mean no disrespect here just having some fun (Bare in mind I have no notion of the different dialects as Claire mention, such as her Yorkshire accent), but I picture Recusant to have a voice similar to James Mason, Tank to sound like Michael Caine, Claire like Emma Thompson, and Crow to sound like Stephen Fry. ;D



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They're not that bad.
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Claireliontamer

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Re: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2016, 07:36:44 AM »
I became aquatinted with Alistair Cooke through his work on PBS with Masterpiece Theatre, loved those old films...but when I listen now to the his voice on the clip Recusant provided it's uncanny how much it reminds me of so many of my older relatives whom have since passed away.

Years ago it was common in the schools to teach what was referred to as proper pronunciation, but they've since phased those out. I had some classes when I was elementary school. (Same with proper penmanship)

I quite like the transatlantic accent gives old films a certain naivety. but then Marlon Brando Happened and every male actor started to mumble.


But one thing Marlon gave us was a more realistic acting technique not seen up to that point don't you think? It got actors away from the stage techniques that were so popular in films up to that point. Such as raising the back of the hand to the forehead to signify anguish or despair (He was a student of Stella Adler).

I like the naivety of the old films as well and am a huge fan of those movies, but I appreciate the subtle and more insightful details that actors like Brando or De Niro bring to a character, which is missing is many older films I think.

Anyway I love hearing the old accents especially the transatlantic one, and being a sentimental fool such as I am it brings about a certain nostalgic.

Now I'm curious to hear how all of you sound. And I mean no disrespect here just having some fun (Bare in mind I have no notion of the different dialects as Claire mention, such as her Yorkshire accent), but I picture Recusant to have a voice similar to James Mason, Tank to sound like Michael Caine, Claire like Emma Thompson, and Crow to sound like Stephen Fry. ;D

At some point,  I think it was in the days of thewalkingcontradiction we had a sound cloud thread with our voices on.....I'll see if I can find the clips.

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Re: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2016, 07:45:10 AM »
I get hired for transatlantic accent work all the time (as well as RP and other dialects).
Most of it is for museums in Germany, Switzerland, and other places in Europe.
Some is for video games where they want a British feel, but still play to American buyers.

Here's one from Germany for the Darwineum (zoo and museum):

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Re: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2016, 08:20:05 AM »
But one thing Marlon gave us was a more realistic acting technique not seen up to that point don't you think? It got actors away from the stage techniques that were so popular in films up to that point. Such as raising the back of the hand to the forehead to signify anguish or despair (He was a student of Stella Adler).

I like the naivety of the old films as well and am a huge fan of those movies, but I appreciate the subtle and more insightful details that actors like Brando or De Niro bring to a character, which is missing is many older films I think.

Anyway I love hearing the old accents especially the transatlantic one, and being a sentimental fool such as I am it brings about a certain nostalgic.

Now I'm curious to hear how all of you sound. And I mean no disrespect here just having some fun (Bare in mind I have no notion of the different dialects as Claire mention, such as her Yorkshire accent), but I picture Recusant to have a voice similar to James Mason, Tank to sound like Michael Caine, Claire like Emma Thompson, and Crow to sound like Stephen Fry. ;D

Yeah overall the subtlety of the acting came afterwards is far superior and the variety of stories that could be told have increased exponentially because of it. But I like the world transatlantic accents created and is missing from modern cinema. Even though all the films are separate they feel like they all take place in the same Hollywood world thus the naivety where everything is painted in a slightly brighter hue and every is well dressed whilst being quite average looking, there is an element of escapism that even high fantasy fails to capture.
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Re: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2017, 02:48:58 PM »
I came across an article that takes a look at the origins of the American version of the mid-Atlantic accent. It covers some of the same ground as the source in the OP, but I thought it interesting nonetheless: "How A Fake British Accent Took Old Hollywood By Storm" | Atlas Obscura

Quote
If you’ve ever seen a movie made before 1950, you’re familiar with the accent used by actors like Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman: a sort of high-pitched, indistinctly-accented way of speaking that also pops up in recordings of politicians like FDR and writers like Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr. It’s easy to gloss over today, because movies have captured a few different accents that aren’t really present today, like the Borscht Belt Jewish accent of Mel Brooks and the old New York “Toity-Toid Street” accent. Is it British? Is American? Is it just “rich”?

But the accent we’re talking about here is among the weirdest ways of speaking in the history of the English language. It is not entirely natural, for one thing: the form of the accent was firmly guided by certain key figures, who created strict rules that were aggressively taught. And it also vanished quickly, within the span of perhaps a decade, which might be related to the fact that it isn’t entirely natural.

[Continues . . .]
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Re: WHAT'S WITH OLD-TIMEY ACCENTS?
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2017, 03:46:36 PM »
Blimey, what a complex and subjective subject: cor love a duck, guv!

I would love to know how many of the 30s - 50s actors spoke in their original voices. Cary Grant, Bob Hope and a few others were born British so tbey would have reached Hollywoodese from the other side of the Pond from those born in America (what percentage of the "stars" of that period were actually born American nationals I wonder?)

Maybe there was a time when, after the Marx Bros and similar, the market for American films started to open up, and maybe more British films were flowing the other way. Due to this, perhaps, where strong accents where not actually needed by the story line or location, the blander mid-Pond accent fell better on European ears.

The tone of voice seems to go in fashion, to my ear American "public" voices tend to be lower in tone than European ones.  Deeper voices tend to be  "seen" as more "serious", more authoritative,  than lighter ones - in both gendres. Drawls impart a certain quality to a voice, often sarcastic, whereas its close cousin, the "croak", was once described as imparting a feeling of trust by a voice coach in an interview I once heard.

The basic voice quality might have more influece on the emotions of the audience than how it is used. A very important tool for the actor's. If personal qualities; goody, baddy, snidey, patronising, weak etc, are attached to certain kinds of voices or accents then a bland one may be more flexible and popular.

I have noticed that there used to be a lot of films where the more sarcastic the character the closer his or her accent would be to "educated" English.

[Based on nothing but a fairly casual interest in language and years of "observation."]
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