Accent

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Accent: (n.) a distinctive mode of pronunciation of a language, especially one associated with a particular nation, locality or social class

Anyone who spends any time whatsoever in theater realizes that it is often a bigoted representation of society’s perception of all races and nationalities.

What I mean by that statement is that if you’re playing a part in a production and your director wants you to convey a certain immediate energy to the audience, he will often ask you to consider using an accent to trigger an image or attitude in the mind of the hearer.

Could anything be more prejudiced? Yet it is standard practice–and an admission that we human beings often draw conclusions based on what we hear and therefore perceive.

Let me give you an example:

Let’s say you’re playing the part of a snobby, high-falutin’; upper-class woman. The suggestion may be made to give her a British accent–therefore concluding that all Brits are really pricks.

Are you gonna play a boxer in the movie? Then you probably should have a New Jersey accent–“Joisey.”

Let me run a few more:

  • Mafia? Italian, of course.
  • A slick gigolo lover? French.
  • A bigoted ignoramus? A Southern Dixie accent.
  • How about a surfer? A California Valley-girl accent.
  • What if the part demands you be a spy? I would suggest a Russian accent.
  • A karate champion? Japanese.
  • How about a dictator? Gotta be German.

Since it is so obvious that we equate certain attributes to accents, it might be a good idea to be careful how you round your r’s and punch your syllables.

Because as much as we may discount the value of prejudice, it was here when we arrived–and it will stand over our graves.

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