Pixel Pirate

Accents and language

8 posts in this topic

This is more of a question to do with the modern reenactor and festival-goer. When YOU go to faires, reenactments and festivals, what accent do you speak with? Does the character your portraying come from another nation besides the American colonies? Just curious, as I'm currently trying to find a nationality and accent that would fit my character.

also, if this is the wrong subforum for this post, please feel free to move it.

Edited by Pixel Pirate

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Since you put it in Twill, it comes off as a question about what would be period correct. (This is what we do in Twill - debate the proper way to represent period correct minutae and discuss historical stuff.) If this is what you're after, I would direct you to these two threads:

Pirate Words and Phrases: Meanings and Origins

and

The "Pirate Accent"

If you're polling people out of curiosity (which is sort of what it sounds like to me), we should probably move this to The Crow's Nest.

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When YOU go to faires, reenactments and festivals, what accent do you speak with?

My own. I was born and raised in the United States and I use the Northwestern accent I've always had. It has been discussed in several threads that pirates from the colonies of the period would probably have more of a colonial accent anyway, so I avoid a forced accent.

Does the character your portraying come from another nation besides the American colonies?

William Brand was born in England, but sent to the colonies at too early of an age to be greatly influenced by accents of those cold, damp climbs. He's also lived in too many places to be grounded to one country by his mode of speech or any accents.

When in doubt, I always say 'play you'.

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Besides that . . .

There is a question as to what the "English" accent actually was in the early 1700s. In fact, is was FAR more diverse than today (even with all the various accents presently IN England. A/The prominent idea is that the various east coast and mountain/Appalachian American accents may be far more like the colonial-era British accents than anything in Britain today besides small community-specific ones that survived.

The theory is that the more interaction with other accents and languages, the more an accent changes. Meanwhile, the inverse is also true, meaning that the more closed-off and remote an area is, the less it changes and mutates. By that basis, the accents in England today are more a product of the Victorian and Edwardian eras than anything else, while the American ones in more remote remained more in a stasis until the 1930s-1950s. Why? Well, people moved to the remote "frontier" areas and pretty much stayed with each other and the accents didn't change much or not at all in the remote, former colonial areas. Yet, in the "home country," the British Empire brought a massive seismic shift in accents.

If that theory is accurate, then the various region and local accents of the Eastern American settlements are reflective of the accents spoken at the period of settlement- being maintained from the place-of-origin as people moved as communities from the home areas to the colonies. That accounts for the literally hundreds of specific "Southern" accents from Louisiana, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, the Virginias, and the "old" towns of Maryland and the very specific "New England" accents from the Philly to Maine.

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My own. I was born and raised in the Southern United States I was Shanghied at the port where Savannah was soon to be located driving brush cattle for sale at the port.

Edited by peglegstrick

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I never use an accent either. Several Brits have told me that Americans trying to effect an English accent often wind up sounding like Burt in Mary Poppins, which makes them cringe. So I honor their wounded ears by speaking in my own voice. ;)

I don't know where my character comes from because I'm not a big fan of backstories unless they can be used for humorous effect. Many English surgeons came from Scotland during the GAoP, although Mission is an erroneous spelling of Misson, which is a French surname.

(I unhid my original comment in response to this thread when it was started in Captain Twill so we don't go down the path of debating what a proper period accent would sound like. That has been discussed in Twill as the link reveals.)

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In the States, isolated coastal communities like Tangier Island have accents that, at least 20 some years ago, were very similar to the accent of the original settlers. This is not true of much of the Atlantic coast where immigrants landed and settled, but the more rural, isolated communities used to have linguistic (and even behavioral) relics. Modern life, access to things like TV and the outside world have changed that and we're loosing many of those wonderful "artifacts".

That being said, there are some individuals who pick up accents at the drop of a hat. It is linked to a particular personality type, and is a function of the wiring in the brain, iirc. So if you are a pirate with an accent, it could change depending on the company you keep *g*

Personally, I am one of those people, my accent depends to some extent on what I'm hearing. It can be funny, confusing or embarrassing, depending on the situation. (The unexpected accent of the officiating Irish priest coming out of my mouth at a wedding reception was a real eye opener!) Talking to someone like Caribbean Pearl is a real challenge, for example, as I find my mouth trying to make the same sounds I hear her making, in spite of myself. It's a lot of work _not_ doing it! :wacko:

That being said, when the question has come up during training for interpretation at historic sites I've attended, the answer has been that it's best not attempted, as many people attempting an accent tend to do it poorly. There tends to be a predominance of bad Irish, Scottish and Cockney accents out there. ;) And when there is interaction with visitors, it's more important that they can understand what you are saying than how you say it.

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If you're good at it, it would be an awesome touch. I know I'm not, so I don't assault an audience with my beastly imitation of an English accent.

(Listening to Carribean Pearl can be a real challenge. Sometimes it sounds like she's in a race to get the most words out per second. Her natural accent is positively beautiful, but spoken at a goodly clip it can be tough to follow at times)

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