Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Strange Thought: Accents

It occurs to me, that I tend to be really bad at considering regional accents when it comes to characters.

I mean, some are obvious. Like Guy Gardner. The fact that he's from Baltimore's automatic. If I stop to think about it, I can "hear" it. (I'm not schizophrenic, damn it, I've just watched way too many episodes of Homicide...which was filmed in Philadelphia anyway...but in my head, when I imagine him talk, his speech pattern is definitely Baltimorian.)

Foreign characters are pretty easy. Bea is Brazillian, Maura Rayner is Irish, Tora Scandinavian. I'd imagine Magneto still has a trace of an accent...

But then there are some that aren't so obvious. Like...if Bart Allen is from Alabama, does he have a southern accent? A speedster with a southern accent just seems like...well a bit of an ill fit to me. I'm trying to imagine talking really fast with a southern accent. Is that possible?

Of course, he *did* grow up in the future...what kind of accents do they have in the future?

For that matter does Sand speak with that weird cadence/intonation that they tend to use in old movies? Or is that stylized? I'd imagine Alan, Jay and Ted's speech patterns changed over time, but he was in a tank for sixty years...

I don't think it was ever stated, but most folk seem to take Gotham (and Bludhaven) to be in New Jersey. Which is really weird to think about. Bruce and Tim probably have that upper class, Princeton-esque speech pattern. Alan too, I'd reckon. Not sure about Dick, as he did grow up in the circus first. And does Jason then talk like a New Jersey kid on TV?

I mean I figure Dick's had a lot of time with Bruce to smooth out a lot of any really birthplace revealing accent, but Jason didn't have nearly as much time, and seemed more likely to be stubborn and resist any type of vocal training out of pride. So shouldn't people be able to tell both Nightwings apart by the way they talk?

Ted Kord's from Chicago, Jaime Reyes is from El Paso, John Stewart and Sandra Woosan are from Detroit if I recall they probably all talk different from each other, which is something that I find fascinating.

I don't know why I care, but sometimes it's fun to think about. Folks from different places talk differently, and tapping in on that can add a nice personal, natural feel to the dialogue. Individualized. And the word choice won't always be the same. Even little things like "subs" vs "hoagies" vs "grinders"; "soda" vs "pop" vs "coke".

I don't really have a point to this. But I do find it all very interesting.


  • At April 20, 2006 3:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'll bet Bart's vocal tones are always a little bit off. Not only was he raised in the future, he was raised an a VR environment. Until he'd popped up during Zero Hour, he'd never actually interacted with a real human.

    Even as the far less interesting Kid Flash, Bart spent over a relative year memorizing a library, completely without any human interaction. It's amazing that Bart seems as socially adept as he is.

  • At April 20, 2006 7:20 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I'd imagine that's the case.

    I have to admit, personally I found Kid Flash much more appealing than Impulse though. He was maturing in an interesting way. Also the speed learning thing, insta-knowledge element made for a neat dynamic.

    I admit though I'm biased as I never cared much for Impulse.

  • At April 20, 2006 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I always liked the fact that Alferd's british roots was so well used in his dialog/interaction I just love the mental picture I get from that. On top of this it even showed up in the aniumated voice casting and Batman Begins Thank you Micheal Caine!)

    Every member of Bruce's immediate "family" has had extentive voice/speech training so their chamelions that way. But Dick probably should sound half Princeton-half circus gypsy

  • At April 20, 2006 10:39 AM, Blogger Anthony Palmer said…

    I rarely think about characters' accents because the internal voice I hear everyone in is pretty much the same: Mine. Unless there's some extreme pronunciation written into the dialogue, like when Jonah Hex says "hoss."

    I always pick up on things like "soda" vs. "pop", though. A while ago my friend who lives in Florida told me about how people down there call shopping carts "buggies."

    Blew my mind.

    I'm going to always imagine the JSA old-timers speaking in that snappy old-movie-speak, now.

  • At April 20, 2006 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Other strange thoughts...aliens and the english language;anything come to mind/and/or/brain?

  • At April 20, 2006 11:23 AM, Blogger jamawalk said…

    never discount the hollywood factor either.

    i can't NOT hear Nathan Fillon whenever vigalante shows up, not since he started appearing on JLU.

    heck, most of the JLU voices are rattling around in my head when i read comics now.

  • At April 20, 2006 1:12 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    green: Michael Caine's great, though it always throws me a little to go back and here the bits of Cockney seep through Alfred's speech. Definitely not expected, but oddly awesome nonetheless.

    anthony: I bet they all tend to talk "normally" at the beginning, but as the night, meeting, whatever extends, they start slipping more and more in old-movie speak. Because it's cool.

    Sand's probably most likely to slip, I'd imagine, given the not as much time to acclimatize due to monsterdom thing.

    anon: Hmm, depends on the type of alien. And the means of them speaking the language too.

    With Green Lanterns, I tend to imagine them with largely American or English accents as their rings are translating for them. Usually American. Kilowog, depending on my mood, tends to sound like he's from New York City (the Bronx maybe) or New Jersey. On rare occasions, he sounds Cockney in my head. The Korugarians: Sinestro, Katma, Soranik, I tend to imagine with very upper-class East Coast or British accents depending on my mood. The new Thanagarian Lantern from Recharge sounds like he's from New Zealand in my head. Hell if I know why.

    For J'onn, I tend to imagine a very deep, resonant voice with a faintly British tone.

    jamawalk: that's pretty cool, I've never really seen enough JLU for that to happen to me.

    Occasionally the movie voices slip in though. Like Magneto does sound like a slightly more Germanic Ian McKellan in my head...

  • At April 20, 2006 3:24 PM, Blogger Steven said…

    For J'onn, Carl Lumbly's surperb voice work is how I hear him. Deep, resonant, commanding, but with a hint of an accent that's hard to place, like he learned his English too perfectly.

    I don't have this problem, oddly, with John Stewart, because the character on the show is so different from the character in the comics.

    I imagine Impulse doesn't have an accent at all, or rather he quickly assimilates the accent of the people around him (he learns languages in under an hour, and forgets them just as quickly). And a speedster from the South would probably sound like Boomhauer.

    To me, Kilowog sounds like Bender. And Sinestro, to go with his name, ears, and pencil thin mustache, sounds like Snidely Whiplash.

  • At April 20, 2006 4:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Speaking as someone who loved Young Justice and Waid's Flash, I miss Bart as Impulse. Kid Flash is a more serious character, of course, but Impulse's zany ADD was original and hilarious. Compared to that, Kid Flash is just so utterly bland.

    I wasn't so sure about the motivation behind his change, either. He lost Carol, he lost Max, and he suffered a near-death trauma on Apokolips. It's like being shot in the knee was the first bad thing to happen to him. He was already maturing, but without losing the element of fun that was at the core of his character. I miss that.

    Although I am biased myself -- I thought Young Justice was brilliant.

    Most other major characters I tend to picture with their animated voices. Like Steven mentioned, Carl Lumbly does such as good job as J'onn my brain automatically fills in his deep, vaguely accented take. Batman is Kevin Conroy, and the Joker is Mark Hamill. Even Michael Caine can't replace Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as the voice of Alfred, though Alfred Molina comes close to replacing Zimbalist as Dr. Octopus. If it's good voice acting, I attach it to the character, as I believe most people do.

  • At April 20, 2006 6:08 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Steven: That makes sense. :-)

    Spiritglyph: I understand that, I loved YJ too. But Impulse grated. I don't know why.

    Thing was, I always saw the knee shot as more of a "last straw" sort of thing. He did suffer all that trauma before, but the knee shot was something that he could have completely prevented had he thought a little before acting. Instead he ended up in terrible pain, stuck, and unable to help his friends. And after having lost so many people, and the entire mess of Graduation Day. I could definitely see how that'd change someone.

    And some of it, I thought was good old fashioned growing up. Childhood *is* inherently more fun than adulthood. But you can't stay a child forever. Which is why I ended up liking the change. Also I liked Conner/Kon-El's change too, though I would have liked to see it *finish*. I thought Kon had the potential to be a very strong, complex and interesting character once he got past being a metaphorical child of rape programmed to hurt his friends...which I think he was headed for.

    They'll probably bring him back anyway though.

  • At April 20, 2006 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    homicide was filmed in baltimore all the way. never in phili

  • At April 20, 2006 7:14 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I actually lived right outside Philadelphia when Homicide was filming. My mom's driven by and saw street scenes filmed for the show. It's definitely Philly.

    Which makes it funny occasionally. The show is fantastic, don't get me wrong, but then they'd show street scenes, and they'd be places I've been. Hell, even the bridge to New Jersey!

    Trust me, anyone whose ever spent any time in Philadelphia can tell the difference. It just makes it more fun. :-)

  • At April 21, 2006 10:13 AM, Blogger Kevin Melrose said…

    Homicide was definitely filmed entirely on location in Baltimore (with occasional excursions to D.C. and surrounding areas). At one point, companies in Baltimore even gave guided tours of key filming/"crime" locations.

    I lived in Philadelphia during most of the time Homicide was on the air. While there were several movies shot in Philly during that time -- Sixth Sense, Beloved, etc. -- as far as I know, no episodes of Homicide were. (The Wire, which is also set in Baltimore, later sent some of its characters to Philadelphia in one episode, but I don't think the scenes were actually shot there.)

  • At April 22, 2006 1:10 AM, Blogger Hale of Angelthorne said…

    "Like...if Bart Allen is from Alabama, does he have a southern accent? A speedster with a southern accent just seems like...well a bit of an ill fit to me."

    "Run, Forrest, run!!"

    Seriously, though, notice how stereotyped a Southern accent is? You NEVER see a character in any media who is intelligent, sophisticated, liberal, or well-groomed talking with a Southern accent. Even Brooklyn accents get more respect than Southern accents. In fact, the only intelligent non-Klansman villain with a Southern accent I can even think of is Gary Oldman's character from "The Fifth Element." And Southern heroes are ALWAYS without fail, stereotypes. Why is this? Why, given the amount of economic and political clout the South has these days, is it still acceptable to portray ALL white Southerners as ignorant racist inbred crackers?

  • At April 22, 2006 1:48 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    That's definitely a fair statement to make. It must be frustrating.

    Personally I wasn't trying to make a crack about intelligence. Just speaking speed. Every southerner I've met tended to drawl a bit more slowly than my own chipmunk chatter pace. So it's hard to reconcile speed-talking with a southern drawl. :-)

  • At April 22, 2006 12:14 PM, Blogger Hale of Angelthorne said…

    "Personally I wasn't trying to make a crack about intelligence."

    Never thought you did for a moment; was just using you as a mini-trampoline to get up on my high horse. Y'all.

  • At April 22, 2006 5:49 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Whew, that's a relief. :-) I say a lot of dumb/insensitive things sometimes, good to know this time wasn't one of them.

    :-) I make a good trampoline though. :-)

  • At April 22, 2006 10:53 PM, Blogger Hale of Angelthorne said…

    ":-) I make a good trampoline though. :-)"


    "There's a girl in New York City, calls herself the human trampoline..."

  • At April 23, 2006 12:06 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Oh dear. That did come out dirtier than I intended. Heh.


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