Jay Cronley: A British accent sometimes makes bad news bearable
BY JAY CRONLEY World Staff Columnist
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
12/27/11 at 4:11 AM
There came from the television yesterday a story of some urgency, something about a tragedy involving a soldier.
I was in the other room when the story began and hustled in for a look and a listen.
The story was being presented by an anchorwoman with an accent so pronounced, it was difficult to determine the language of origin right off, Gaelic? It turned out to be a British accent so thick, I had to move nearer the screen until I was several feet away, and try to lip-read some of the more complicated phrases.
Sometimes when watching the BBC on cable television, you need subtitles. When Brit reporters in the field talk fast while looking away from the camera, it's any native American's guess what they're saying. It's as though the tape had been revved up. All that's missing in some of the British TV reports is Benny Hill's lightning-fast background music.
But this report wasn't on BBC.
The anchor with the big British accent was on CNN.
And what did she just say?
Say what? : Whereas Americans have a relative few distinctive accents, eastern and southern being the most parodied, with only a state of mind representing the far west, there are dozens of English dialects, some recognizable down to almost the street corner in Manchester, or a particular side of the bank of the river Thames.
The current British accent invasion has to do with American television news and entertainment.
The English can do wonders with words, particularly when a good wage is at stake.
The actor Hugh Laurie who plays the drug-addicted doctor on the TV show "House" sounds like he had to have been born in Hackensack. Off that set, he has a pleasant, "Bond, James Bond," accent, reminiscent of his actual birthplace, Oxford, Oxfordshire.
It's as though a pointed British accent can legitimize even reality shows.
So they thought they could what?
Talk your way in: Sometimes an accent can take you places.
A drawl taken to the northeast can get a person a beer in a crowded club.
And a British accent gets you on American TV, from game-show hosting to late night comedy to news anchoring.
The British doing the news in the USA seem very proud of their accents and accentuate the nuances whenever possible.
Most of the news is so grim, a different cadence and inflection can't hurt.
Original Print Headline: Bad news? Accentuate the accent