||[Sep. 18th, 2006|01:01 am]
If you're looking for some good TV to download, I highly recommend "Shameless" -- the Channel 4 UK series. It's the story of a drunken layabout with six children who live in a Manchester council estate -- the equivalent of welfare housing in the US. There are few things I've ever seen on television that are as funny, affecting and true to life. It's very refreshing to see a program reflect how people actually live, rather than the creeping political correctness and schoolmarmish moralizing of American televison. The characters are foulmouthed, sometimes uncouth, often intoxicated, but always sympathetic and vivid.|
It's a great show to watch just to hear the characters speak in Manchester accents, some of which are so thick that Americans could use subtitles. I often pause and replay bits to try and work out what they're saying, and sometimes I'm stumped. But like any unfamilar English speech, there's plenty to amuse the amateur linguist -- expressions like "gobshite" and insults like "you gormless twat!" The Manchester accent is, according to surveys, the least popular regional accent in the UK, but I love the oddity of it -- the way the ending 'ee' sound in words like 'security' comes out in between 'securiteh' and 'securitay,' a bit like how Cartman pronounces 'authority.' One of the characters, expressing lesbian lust says "she makes me funny go all wavy" and I think she's actually saying 'fanny.'
Anyway "Shameless" is wickedly addictive, and there's a lot of it -- 3 seasons of 45 minute shows, plus a 90 minute christmas special, and there's a 4th season in production for 2007. It has been on BBC America but I don't think it's showing just now.
AFAIK, the Brummie (Birmingham) accent is much more reviled than the Manc.
Imagine watching British shows as an American who doesn't have an ear for UK accents. There's a whole set of associations that occur instantly to a UK audience the second a character opens their mouth that flies right past Americans.
I've noticed as well that shows occasionally address regional differences directly, like the episode of "Teachers" where a student gives the teacher Brian a hard time for having a northern accent. Monty Python often had jokes that made no sense without some context of the accents.
And on "Shameless" there's a huge contrast between the accents of Steve and Fiona -- he sounds posh, and she's got a broad Mancunian accent. And maybe I'm imagining it, but all of the Gallagher's sound a little bit Irish as well...
I'll have to look for that one. I've been watching another show
, via BBC America, set in Manchester, that I can highly recommend...
Ah, the american replies talking about the show, and the Brits all debate about accents. Well Ian McDonald's from Northern Ireland, don't know if he should be called a Brit.
In looking around on the web, I heard the 'least favorite accent in England' comment in an article about Manchester, but when I go back and look again, I can't find the reference.
But accents are important in the US as well, but television and radio have erased a lot of the differences. I live in Eastern Iowa which is ground zero for 'Broadcast English,' so I'm mostly around people with vanilla American accents. Probably similar to England, poor people are the main repository of unreconstructed regional accents.
It's an interesting phenomenon in Iowa City that the population balance between races has been changing, with a large influx of black folks from Chicago. There's a definite class line between those black people who've adopted a more 'white' accent and those who speak genuine South Side Chicago. That's a shame too, because people will feel pressure to lose their accents to get ahead, and for me the rhythm and vocabulary of black Chicago speech can be almost Shakespearean.
And, as with black speech in any northern city, the accent is a patchwork of various southern black accents, from the migration north to work in heavy industries in the 40s and 50s. Accent and dialect are of course dynamic things, but it would be a shame if world media completely homogenizes them.
That's 'speech' innit.
Is this comment a personal observation, or have you read somewhere this is an official policy of the Beeb?
And I doubt they would drop all 'R's, as I'm not sure of any accent of English that would drop an initial 'R' -- are you just talking about end of syllable 'R's? I.e. Pahk the Cah in Hahvahd Yahd?
2006-09-18 04:39 pm (UTC)
In case anyone was previously unawares, "fanny" = "vagina". I never knew the finer connotations of the American "fannypack" until recently. And that show sounds great... I'll have to search it out.
I'm a proper Anglophile -- I knew that ;-) and I sometimes smoke a fag in me front garden as well.