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The Mid-Atlantic Accent

How does one acquire it?

Discuss which actors acquired it and what its hallmarks are.

by Anonymousreply 117November 24, 2021 11:11 AM

I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about.

by Anonymousreply 1November 15, 2021 3:42 AM

Mimic Jim Backus

by Anonymousreply 2November 15, 2021 3:43 AM

Katherine Hepburn

by Anonymousreply 3November 15, 2021 3:44 AM

Bjork

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by Anonymousreply 4November 15, 2021 3:48 AM

Grace Kelly

by Anonymousreply 5November 15, 2021 3:52 AM

R3, but wasn’t hers too affected?

by Anonymousreply 6November 15, 2021 3:56 AM

Are there examples of how to pronounce certain words?

Tomato/tohmaato

Vase/Vaas

by Anonymousreply 7November 15, 2021 3:58 AM

Hepburn picked it up at Bryn Mawr. Backus picked it up mimicing his father and the father's white show lawyer friends (in Cleveland, not on the East Coast).

by Anonymousreply 8November 15, 2021 4:00 AM

[quote] white show

?

by Anonymousreply 9November 15, 2021 4:04 AM

Emily Post disliked the pronunciation of the word vase as "vahz".

She responded to the question: "When is a vase a vahz?" with "When it is filled with dah-zies."

(IIRC, a vase-pronounced-vahz is a large vessel that sits directly on the floor; a vase is small and stands on a table or some other article of furniture.)

by Anonymousreply 10November 15, 2021 5:56 AM

Always ‘Aunt’, not ‘Ann-t’

by Anonymousreply 11November 15, 2021 6:34 AM

Kan’t, not Ken-t

by Anonymousreply 12November 15, 2021 6:35 AM

Pick up and study a copy of "Speak With Distinction" by Edith Skinner, a classic standard for learning how to speak on stage (or elsewhere) for ages.

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by Anonymousreply 13November 15, 2021 6:49 AM

Or, watch this YT video, along with studying and learning to reproduce accents of Lena Horne, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, etc..

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by Anonymousreply 14November 15, 2021 6:51 AM

Patrick Dennis: Is the English lady sick, Auntie Mame?

Auntie Mame: She's not English, darling... she's from Pittsburgh.

Patrick Dennis: She sounded English.

Auntie Mame: Well, when you're from Pittsburgh, you have to do something.

by Anonymousreply 15November 15, 2021 6:54 AM

Another tutorial for the punters. This time from a British perspective.

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by Anonymousreply 16November 15, 2021 6:58 AM

Did Madonna succeed?

by Anonymousreply 17November 15, 2021 7:01 AM

George Plimpton

by Anonymousreply 18November 15, 2021 7:06 AM

Personally prefer old Massachusetts "lockjaw" accent a la Gloria Upson.

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by Anonymousreply 19November 15, 2021 7:10 AM

The Mid-Atlantic "Accent" isn't even a real accent. You don't acquire it from living or growing up in a particular region or background. It is literally a manufactured accent that the people who spoke it had to be formally taught because no one actually talks like that.

by Anonymousreply 20November 15, 2021 7:11 AM

[quote] Personally prefer old Massachusetts "lockjaw" accent a la Gloria Upson.

Ghastly. Just ghastly.

by Anonymousreply 21November 15, 2021 7:14 AM

OP you could always take elocution lessons. Once standard part of finishing, charm or "executive training" schools there are today scores of teachers that take on anyone from actors to politicians.

Margaret Thatcher joined a long list of British politicians who took elocution lessons to scrub herself up a bit. Sadly things went too far and Mrs. Thatcher became frightfully grand, this included usurping use of royal pronoun "we". HM The Queen was not amused.....

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by Anonymousreply 22November 15, 2021 7:14 AM

[quote] Personally prefer old Massachusetts "lockjaw" accent a la Gloria Upson.

Not Massachusetts: Connecticut. A.K.A. "Connecticut clench."

Little Glory is from Mountebank, "the most exclusive and restricted community in our part of Connecticut!."

by Anonymousreply 23November 15, 2021 7:16 AM

Christopher Plummer had the mid-Atlantic accent.

by Anonymousreply 24November 15, 2021 7:22 AM

Jackie On Assistance had that weird accent that was half Mid-Atlantic, half Lawn Guyland, just like her cousin Little Edie.

by Anonymousreply 25November 15, 2021 7:24 AM

So, besides hearing it, what would be a general way to define it in a few sentences?

by Anonymousreply 26November 15, 2021 7:26 AM

R20

Received pronunciation across pond in UK is the same, but that's the point.

Whole idea is to have an accent that is hard to place so persons cannot pin point one's background.

RP long associated with public school, Oxford, Cambridge, Eton, upper classes, etc... basically was and still is a way of speaking that derived from erasing any common or low background.

Sons and daughters of peers and wealthy in England/GB long had been mostly raised by servants since birth. That staff was largely drawn from surrounding estates and of course spoke with whatever accent dominated. Boys were sent away to public school in part to learn many thing including RP. This prepared them for lives as a gentleman. It was all so important because standard wisdom was a gentleman could tell a person's background within moments after they began speaking.

Girls from upper classes were a mixed bag back then. Some were sent away to schools, but good majority remained at home and were instructed by governesses and or tutors privately at least for much of their primary education years. This is why many were packed off to finishing schools where elocution was part of curriculum. Families who could afford it found English governesses well trained in RP so as best to teach their charges.

The massive exportation of English governesses during 1800's and 1900's was in large part to that training. These would have been "ladies" from good families (the only ones who could afford to have their daughters educated), but were hard up for money. Idea was to have someone above servant class who educated both by formal teaching, but also via example.

by Anonymousreply 27November 15, 2021 7:27 AM

The Connecticut Clench is top-drawer.

by Anonymousreply 28November 15, 2021 7:29 AM

Done well and consistently RP or Mid-Atlantic gives impression one is from a certain class born and bred.

Noel Coward despite what many would assume from his accent came from a decidedly lower middle class background. Early on he decided best way to advance is stage career was to take up RP. Happily NC ran with the wealthy set of England who were more than happy to aid in that effort. They didn't think him a cheeky bounder at all.

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by Anonymousreply 29November 15, 2021 7:32 AM

Just as in USA with Mid-Atlantic accent, RP was everywhere in GB during 1930's, 1940's and well into 1950's and beyond.

Rise of first radio then films (and later television) meant some saw need for some sort of standard pronunciation that would be readily understood not just in Britain, but across entire empire.

Thus actors, radio and television broadcasters all learned RP, in particular what once was referred to as the "BBC accent". You watch films like brief Encounter and every actor right down to the children all use some form of RP.

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by Anonymousreply 30November 15, 2021 7:37 AM

Round tones, OP.

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by Anonymousreply 31November 15, 2021 7:44 AM

R23

""....the most exclusive and restricted community in our part of Connecticut!."

"Exclusively what, and restricted to whom?"

by Anonymousreply 32November 15, 2021 7:49 AM

Be born in Eastern PA, like moi?

by Anonymousreply 33November 15, 2021 8:21 AM

I really want this to make a comeback. Everyone speaks like trash these days with limited vocabularies.

by Anonymousreply 34November 15, 2021 8:49 AM

Tilda is my model

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by Anonymousreply 35November 15, 2021 8:54 AM

The von trapp children all speak with a mid Atlantic accent. Especially the word “Faa-tha”

by Anonymousreply 36November 15, 2021 8:56 AM

Gore Vidal and Lauren Bacall

by Anonymousreply 37November 15, 2021 9:06 AM

Joanna Lumley's accent seems manufactured.

by Anonymousreply 38November 15, 2021 9:07 AM

R35 Actually her name is Tilder Swinton. It’s only Tulsa in mid Atlantic.

by Anonymousreply 39November 15, 2021 1:27 PM

^Tulsa=Tilda

by Anonymousreply 40November 15, 2021 1:28 PM

Dianne Wiest does a wonderful version in bullits over broadway

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by Anonymousreply 41November 15, 2021 1:43 PM

It's 2021 Eldergays

If anyone under the age of 80 actually spoke like that today people would assume they were doing an impression of an old-time actor and laugh at them.

by Anonymousreply 42November 15, 2021 1:48 PM

or enjoy it for the fun of it all. not everyone is a smug cunt

by Anonymousreply 43November 15, 2021 1:59 PM

Mid-Atlantic (aka Transatlantic) and Received Pronunciation are not the same although the former draws quite heavily from the latter.

by Anonymousreply 44November 15, 2021 2:04 PM

Hepburn didn't pick up anything at Bryn Mawr, R8, she brought her Connecticut accent with her.

by Anonymousreply 45November 15, 2021 2:08 PM

I love Connecticut Clench! I've only heard it called Locust Valley (or Long Island) Lockjaw and I agree that it's only spoken by people who are really top drawer!

by Anonymousreply 46November 15, 2021 2:08 PM

Jennifer jason Leigh does a parody of it in THE HUDSUCKER PROXY.

by Anonymousreply 47November 15, 2021 2:15 PM

[quote]Personally prefer old Massachusetts "lockjaw" accent a la Gloria Upson.

[quote]Connecticut Clench

[quote]I've only heard it called Locust Valley (or Long Island) Lockjaw

r46 is correct. And for Beale fans, Little Edie is even reposing in the ground at Locust Valley.

by Anonymousreply 48November 15, 2021 2:16 PM

Move ou of any english speaking country, spend you days and nights watching 1950s movies and seeing interviews from 1940s and 50s celebrities on youtube and you probably will shift your accent to that.

by Anonymousreply 49November 15, 2021 2:19 PM

[quote]Christopher Plummer had the mid-Atlantic accent.

He was also Canadian and cut his acting chops performing Shakespeare.

by Anonymousreply 50November 15, 2021 2:58 PM

Dorothy Parker had it - initially as a campy affectation. She acknowledged it was fake but got so used to speaking that way that it became her actual accent.

Tallulah Bankhead and Carrie Nye have a variant of it that is closer to a Mississippi/New Orleans accent - nothing like the Gone-With-The-Wind sound that most people associate with the Deep South.

Lauren Bacall had it. I think she admitted she started using it as an actress in part to cover up her nervousness.

by Anonymousreply 51November 15, 2021 3:19 PM

R51 Betty Bacall = 1/3 Mid-Atlantic, 1/3 life long smoker, and 1/3 being a bitch that doesn't give two fucks.

by Anonymousreply 52November 15, 2021 3:21 PM

R9 "white shoe"

by Anonymousreply 53November 15, 2021 3:25 PM

[quote]It is literally a manufactured accent that the people who spoke it had to be formally taught because no one actually talks like that.

[quote]Just as in USA with Mid-Atlantic accent, RP was everywhere in GB during 1930's, 1940's and well into 1950's and beyond.

In the early 80s my elementary school curriculum included elocution classes in the first and second grades but by the time my brother was in the first grade three years later the classes had been dropped. This was in Potomac, MD so I have no idea why this was incorporated into our education.

A few years ago during a conversation about plants someone randomly mentioned my having a Mid-Atlantic accent, she was a linguist/language specialist with the local government but I was still surprised to hear that I had a noticeable “accent” and even more surprised that she felt the need to bring attention to it.

by Anonymousreply 54November 15, 2021 3:33 PM

It would be less annoying than the "fry" or "valley girl" accents and the constant insertion of "like".

by Anonymousreply 55November 15, 2021 3:42 PM

The Southern pronunciations in GWTW are very light and Gable refused to attempt one at all.

by Anonymousreply 56November 15, 2021 3:45 PM

Sally Kellerman for Hidden Valley: :

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by Anonymousreply 57November 15, 2021 4:05 PM

what an elegant ranch!

by Anonymousreply 58November 15, 2021 6:22 PM

R56 Leslie Howard actually probably had the most historically accurate one. They were all for the most part, part of the Southern aristocracy and gentry. At the time the rich still emulated the wealthy of Britain in their speech, so they should've sounded like a combination of a light Southern accent mixed with an upper class English one, think of the late Sen. Warner. A kind of Southern Mid-Atlantic.

Gable however would've had the hardest one to do, which could explain why he didn't even try. Rhett Butler is supposed to come from a very wealthy and established Charleston family. The historically elite Charleston accent is non-rhotic, they tend to pronounce the city as Chalston. War comes out sounding like wawa. New York and other major Atlantic seaports developed similar accents.

by Anonymousreply 59November 15, 2021 6:39 PM

Another commercial imbued with Mid-Atlantic elegance:

(Piss-elegance, that is.)

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by Anonymousreply 60November 15, 2021 8:11 PM

I imagine elder gay d loungers attempting mid Atlantic accents, combined with gay voice, a lisp, and the more than occasional HISSSSSSSS

by Anonymousreply 61November 15, 2021 8:22 PM

Moss Hart and wife Kitty Carlisle speak in a Mid-Atlantic accent in this interview. The reporter, less so.

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by Anonymousreply 62November 15, 2021 8:25 PM

I loved Bacall's voice, but don't ask her to look after her grandkids!

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by Anonymousreply 63November 15, 2021 8:30 PM

Accents in GWTW were all over the place.

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by Anonymousreply 64November 15, 2021 8:31 PM

No, Vivien Leigh didn't even bother with southern accent. Leslie Howard OTOH did his best, and things came out rather good on balance.

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by Anonymousreply 65November 15, 2021 8:34 PM

[quote]Lauren Bacall had it. I think she admitted she started using it as an actress in part to cover up her nervousness.

She kept it for the FLA-VAH!

by Anonymousreply 66November 16, 2021 1:40 AM

Niles and Frasier Crane

by Anonymousreply 67November 16, 2021 2:19 AM

R67, are you also R54?

by Anonymousreply 68November 16, 2021 2:22 AM

For the soap watchers, would you agree that is what Pheobe, Langley, Adam and Palmer spoke on AMC. Though with Adam and Palmer it was established they affected the accent to hide their hillbilly roots.

by Anonymousreply 69November 16, 2021 2:32 AM

The Limey at R16's link is fucking lame.

The Mid-Atlantic and the Transatlantic are not the same fucking thing.

Idiot.

by Anonymousreply 70November 16, 2021 2:34 AM

He does seem daft

by Anonymousreply 71November 16, 2021 2:49 AM

A Mid-Atlantic accent is an accent pattern from Delaware up through Western Connecticut that is influenced by colonial Dutch and German as well as British accents.

A Transatlantic accent is people trying to sound British.

R16's link = #Limeyfail

by Anonymousreply 72November 16, 2021 2:53 AM

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

by Anonymousreply 73November 16, 2021 3:08 AM

Because it never stops being funny....

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by Anonymousreply 74November 19, 2021 3:43 AM

I liked the Bronx Tony Curtis "Yondah lies da castle of my foddah" which he never said in any movie.

by Anonymousreply 75November 19, 2021 3:56 AM

As a Brit, one acquires a semblance of it living in the States for a few decades. We begin to mimic you just a bit, whether we like it or not. Things soften, though we never completely replace our Ts with Ds, something seems to happen over time.

by Anonymousreply 76November 19, 2021 4:03 AM

Why do so many shows I've been watching today do the mid-Atlantic accent (or Kennedy-esque accent) like Happy Endings and Friends from College?

Seems weird.

by Anonymousreply 77November 19, 2021 4:34 AM

Why has no one mentioned dear Joan?

by Anonymousreply 78November 19, 2021 4:43 AM

Mid-atlantic wasn't her first fucking ride at the rodeo

by Anonymousreply 79November 19, 2021 1:27 PM

I’m from Eastern Virginia and our older relatives have this accent. There are long vowels and everything ends with “ah” like “sug-ah”. It’s quite elegant sounding, but going the way of the dodo bird since the younger generation just sounds like Kardashian’s. You have to have been born prior to 1950 and be from the area stretching from Richmond to Fredericksburg but not further west than Charlottesville in order to rock the mid Atlantic southern gentry accent.

by Anonymousreply 80November 19, 2021 2:11 PM

Whet does the Kardasian possess?

by Anonymousreply 81November 19, 2021 2:13 PM

Vocal fry R81.

by Anonymousreply 82November 19, 2021 6:48 PM

Justin is easy on the eyes.

by Anonymousreply 83November 19, 2021 7:41 PM

Her politics were certainly suspect, but I always think of Diana Mosley when I think of a 1930s/1940s RP accent. It’s interesting to hear it from someone who was a “real” person, not an actress, politician, etc.

Apparently Diana’s sister, Deborah, the Duchess of Devonshire was talking while walking around the grounds of the Chatsworth estate and someone stopped her and said, “Oh I’ve always read about a 1930s accent, but have never heard one. Please go on.”

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by Anonymousreply 84November 19, 2021 7:53 PM

R84 did she really have natural cheekbones like that? Extraordinary.

by Anonymousreply 85November 19, 2021 7:58 PM

[quote] I was still surprised to hear that I had a noticeable “accent”

EVERYONE has a noticeable accent. There is no such thing as a "neutral" accent.

by Anonymousreply 86November 19, 2021 7:58 PM

british RP and Mid-atlantic aren't precisely the same thing

by Anonymousreply 87November 19, 2021 8:01 PM

Is this what you all are talking about?

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by Anonymousreply 88November 20, 2021 2:53 AM

R88 no that is an accent of the middle Atlantic states, but that is not a "Mid-Atlantic" accent. The Mid-Atlantic accent is so called because it is meant to sound as though it is from the middle of the Atlantic between Britain and America. When you hear old movie actors and think, "They sound vaguely like a posh Brit, yet American,' that is the accent which we are discussing.

by Anonymousreply 89November 20, 2021 2:59 AM

R84 Another Mitford sister, Nancy, published a famous article in the mid-'50s explaining aristocratic usage in England.

by Anonymousreply 90November 20, 2021 3:49 AM

Link please, R90.

by Anonymousreply 91November 20, 2021 3:49 AM

R91 It was published in Encounter magazine. Perhaps somebody does have a link, I don't. Although she didn't originate the U non-U distinction or the term, she popularized it in that article and it caught on.

In any event, here's Deborah the youngest Mitford speaking in late life. She sounds more like the Queen than the Queen.

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by Anonymousreply 92November 20, 2021 3:55 AM

R92 The interesting thing about U and non-U, as an American, is how much of the U terms would be associated with the poor here. Such as looking glass instead of mirror, scent instead of perfume, etc... to me that sounds like things you'd expect to hear in the Appalachians or Ozarks not Windsor Castle.

by Anonymousreply 93November 20, 2021 4:05 AM

There are pockets in the Appalachians and the tidewater areas where the last traces of Elizabethan English can still be heard. But that's fast disappearing.

by Anonymousreply 94November 20, 2021 4:11 AM

R93 But that's the point. If you're really up there you don't put on airs.

Can't say I've ever visited one, but I've always heard that homes of old money in the U.S. are comfortable but shabby. Language is just another reflection of the attitude.

by Anonymousreply 95November 20, 2021 4:12 AM

R95 I know. The poorer or richer you are the more you value direct speech, as well. It is the middle classes that come up with euphemisms such as drumstick instead of chicken leg, pass away rather than to die, etc...

The surprise that many people discover is that so much of what we think of as posh is really middle class, especially language.

I will also say it is true their houses are shabby. I live in the South, in a town in which wealthy Yankee equestrians have congregated since the end of the Civil War, I've been in their "cottages" which are really mansions. They are nice and grand, yet shabby. They might have gorgeous Persian rugs but they are threadbare and they use the furniture to cover any holes.

by Anonymousreply 96November 20, 2021 4:22 AM

R89 I was joking, Jesus.

by Anonymousreply 97November 20, 2021 1:01 PM

R86 - you are incorrect.

by Anonymousreply 98November 20, 2021 9:42 PM

Joisey native Natalie Schafer had a delightful Mid-Atlantic accent.

by Anonymousreply 99November 20, 2021 9:49 PM

[quote]Joisey native Natalie Schafer had a delightful Mid-Atlantic accent.

She was also a stealth lesbian. Gurl had secrets...

by Anonymousreply 100November 21, 2021 2:37 PM

He is correct R98.

by Anonymousreply 101November 23, 2021 7:06 PM

^^^^ R86 that is.

by Anonymousreply 102November 23, 2021 7:07 PM

Does Barbara Walters' accent count?

by Anonymousreply 103November 23, 2021 7:09 PM

R103 her accent is quite common in Lispon.

by Anonymousreply 104November 23, 2021 7:18 PM

[Quote]Does Barbara Walters' accent count?

It does, and it's quite exquisite!

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by Anonymousreply 105November 23, 2021 7:33 PM

Barbara Walters has an old New York accent layered with her famous speech impediment, and shaped further by decades of broadcasting when executives scolded her to tone both down. Her speech in no way resembles a Mid-Atlantic accent.

by Anonymousreply 106November 23, 2021 7:40 PM

I've told the story here before how my ex, who was from India, and I went to see Mary Louise Wilson as Diana Vreeland in "Full Gallop" - as we exited, the ex remarked in astonishment: "She never moved her jaw the entire time!" I replied, "You never met my grandmother (from Upper Montclair, NJ)."

by Anonymousreply 107November 23, 2021 7:46 PM

While RP and Mid-Atlantic accents are different, there are some similarities.

Speaking with a clenched jaw is one of them...

Observe Charles Gray in this clip...

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by Anonymousreply 108November 24, 2021 2:19 AM

Yes, RP and Mid-Atlantic are different, but Mid-Atlantic was very much designed to be America's RP. You could always tell which teachers graduated from college in the 60s and later by the way they talked. If they graduated in the mid-60s and before they spoke at least with a quasi-Mid-Atlantic accent, if they graduated after that they didn't. Unless, it was a black teacher that went to a major HBCU because they kept it up longer.

by Anonymousreply 109November 24, 2021 2:40 AM

Walter Brennen

by Anonymousreply 110November 24, 2021 2:42 AM

Talk like you are biting down on a couple of pennies with your molars.

by Anonymousreply 111November 24, 2021 3:10 AM

Someone said way back in the thread that Mid-Atlantic and Received Pronunciation are not the same but that MA deliberately draws quite a bit from RP.

by Anonymousreply 112November 24, 2021 8:05 AM

Mid-Atlantic Accent would not exist were it not for Received Pronouncation.

From Wiki:

"The Mid-Atlantic accent, or Transatlantic accent,[1][2][3] is an accent of English, fashionably used by the early 20th-century American upper class and entertainment industry, which blended together features regarded as the most prestigious from both American and British English (specifically Received Pronunciation). It is not a native or regional accent; rather, according to voice and drama professor Dudley Knight, "its earliest advocates bragged that its chief quality was that no Americans actually spoke it unless educated to do so".[4] The accent was embraced in private independent preparatory schools, especially by members of the Northeastern upper class, as well as in schools for film and stage acting,[5] but its overall use sharply declined following the Second World War.[6] A similar accent that resulted from different historical processes, Canadian dainty, was also known in Canada in the same era.[7] More recently, the term "mid-Atlantic accent" can also refer to any accent with a perceived mixture of both American and British characteristics.[8][9][10]"

MA takes bits of RP and as with many other things makes up something "American". However point made repeatedly in this thread remains largely same. Idea is to remove a person's natural way of speaking and replace it with something taught.

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by Anonymousreply 113November 24, 2021 8:11 AM

In film versions of Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" Count Aristid Karpathy (played by wonderful Esme Percy in 1938 film), makes an astute observation about Eliza Doolittle and her recently learned RP..

Count Karpathy earns his living by his ability to recognize the origin of high society people from their way of speaking. He claims Miss Doolittle is a "fraud" because she speaks English so perfectly. No Englishwoman (or man for that matter) according to the Count speaks their language that way unless they are taught.

Again this is essence of MA, RP and rest. To stamp, scrub, wipe out any traces of someone's background via their speech. What is substituted instead is a highly stylized (and some may say affected) manner of speaking that is difficult to pin point if at all someone's background.

It is the associations with wealth and status that have attached themselves to RP, MA and rest that cause persons to make assumptions about background of those speaking. Pygmalion was largely about this, take someone from the gutter and pass them off as a lady or gentleman maybe even royalty.

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by Anonymousreply 114November 24, 2021 8:25 AM

For anyone who believes non of this matters today, bollocks.

When American advertisers and others have need for upscale sounding (among other qualities) voices, it is to RP trained British actors they often look.

Jack Davenport is among a good number of British actors who are in demand and do well from voice work.

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by Anonymousreply 115November 24, 2021 10:08 AM

Example:

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by Anonymousreply 116November 24, 2021 10:09 AM

This article, probably written by a DLer , gives great advice on the pronunciation of vase.

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by Anonymousreply 117November 24, 2021 11:11 AM
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