Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Accent

It seems that Captain Phillips--the real Captain Phillips, non-Tom-Hanks version--and I share two noteworthy life facts.  One, we both wanted Danny DeVito to play us in our life story.  And two, we were both born in Manchester, NH (although in both cases, our mothers lived someplace else).

I therefore feel qualified to contribute to the great Tom Hanks "accent" controversy--whether Hanks can speak Boston and whether it matters.  I was geared up to go on at length on this subject although I see others got there before me (link,  link, link etc.).   I nonetheless believe I can make a contribution.

Specifically, when I left New Hampshire at 17 I thought my accent was a mark of shame and I did my best to suppress it.  By the time I was, maybe, 25, I realized a New Hampshire accent was kind of cool and I did my best to recreate it.  But my father said I got it wrong.  He said I came up with a Maine accent and neither I nor he had ever lived in Maine.  Which was all right with him because he knew me as a fake anyway.

So, I feel for Tom Hanks.  Apparently it ain't that easy.*

On further reflection--the one situation in which I can come close to New England accent of any sort is when I'm reading aloud from Sarah Orne Jewett.  Which may be where the Maine thing comes in.  For a reading of Jewett's best-known work, though without the accent, go here.   For a full-throttle New England accent, with no apparent consciousness of itself, go here.  For the real Captain and his real accent, go here.

*On third thought: maybe Tom Hanks needs to get some dialect tips from Damian Lewis   or Hugh Laurie.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is no accent!! I grew up with every form or Southern Cracker who could get to Calipornikateya to work in the war industries. A lot of those accents stuck with me. My imitations may allow me to "pass" if I ever have to make a pilgrimage down South.