Accents in the Media

This site contains information on Accents in the Media (Movies, News, Books), Accent Quotes, and Personal Experiences with Accents that either I found on the Internet or were related to me personally by various individuals. Accents in the Media is in its initial phase of compilation. The topic of accents is widespread. You may not even realize how common until you start paying attention and, suddenly, accents are everywhere. People speaking with accents, people speaking about accents. Unsurprisingly then, accents are prevalent in the media as well. My goal is not to gather all possible examples of accents, as that could easily take a lifetime, and probably would not be very useful, rather, the purpose of this site is to demonstrate just how common the topic of accents is. I will be updating the website regularly, if slowly, with most interesting examples relating to accents. If you have any suggestions for additional content, please contact me.

Accents in Movies

Disney Movies & Cartoons
Disney movies most often use non-native accents in a negative or stereotypical way as compared to US and other English accents. However, in some instances foreign accents in general (including other English) are used to portray a villainous character. Research has also found that in cable cartoons for children, stereotypically negative accents (German, Russian and other Eastern European) are mostly associated with villains.

Some examples:

The Lion King: Mufasa speaks with a standard US English accent. Scar, his evil brother, speaks with a British accent (both brothers are presumably in Africa).

Aladdin: Jaffar, a villainous character, speaks with a British accent (in an Arabian desert).

Three Little Pigs: the Big Bad Wolf has a Yiddish accent when he pretends to be a salesman.

Oliver & Company: a small, annoying Chihuahua, Tito, adopts a Hispanic accent.

Ratatouille (Pixar): Remy and Linguini (who are French) speak with American English accents, but all other characters speak some form of a French accent.

Don Juan DeMarco (1994)
Jack Mickler: Are you Italian, Mexican or Spanish?
Don Juan: That is all you have to say? You want to know my nationality?
Jack Mickler: No. Your name is De Marco, that's Italian. You were brought up in Mexico, and when you speak English, you speak it with a Castilian accent.
Don Juan: Well, my accent has been coloured by my many travels. Very well, I will answer your question. I was raised in Mexico, my father was born in Queens, his name was Tony De Marco, he was Italian. The dance-king of Astoria.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

Jean Girard: My name is Jean Girard and I am a racing-car driver just like you except I am from Formula Un. I am the greatest one in the whole world. I have been following your career with great interest, Monsieur Bobby.
Ricky Bobby: I can't understand a word you've said the whole time.
Cal Naughton, Jr.: Did you eat some peanut butter or something?
Ricky Bobby: Yeah, you sound like a dog with peanut butter on the roof of your mouth.
Jean Girard: I think what you are hearing is my accent. I am French.
Ricky Bobby: You say you're French?
Jean Girard: Oui. [sounds like 'We']
Ricky Bobby: We? No, we are not French. We're American, because you're in America, okay? Greatest country on the planet.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
(Transcribed by Agata Gluszek from the movie)
Arthur: It is King Arthur, and these are my Knights of the Round Table. Whose castle is this? Guard: This is the castle of my master, Guy de Loimbard.
Arthur: Go and tell your master that we have been charged by God with a sacred quest, and if he will give us food and shelter for this night he can join us in our quest for the Holy Grail. Guard: Well, I'll ask him, but I don't think he'll be very keen. He's already got one, you see? Arthur: What?
Galahad: He says they've already got one!
Arthur: Are you sure he's got one?
Guard: Oh yes. It's very nice [to others] I told him we already got one.
Arthur: Well ... can we come up and have a look?
Guard: Of course not! You are English pigs.
Arthur: Well, what are you then?
Guard: I'm French. Why do think I have this outrageous accent, you silly king
Galahad: What are you doing in England?
Guard: Mind your own business
Arthur: If you will not show us the Grail we shall storm your castle.

And here is an article about accents in Transformers:

Accents in the News

August 27, 2010
A Failure to Communicate - New York Times

August 26, 2010
Does Your Language Shape How You Think? - New York Times

August 25, 2010
Adapt for a diverse future - NZ Herald

August 24, 2010
Salma Hayek: Hollywood is getting used to my accent - Showbiz Spy

August 11, 2010
Big Shamrock says Boston accent ‘very sexy’ - Boston Herald

August 10, 2010
When the Doctor Doesn’t Look Like You - New York Times

August 7, 2010
Humans 'subconsciously mimic other accents', psychologists claim - Daily Telegraph

July 23, 2010
Foreign accents make people suspicious - Sify India News

May 22, 2010
Arizona Seeks to Reassign Heavily Accented Teachers - Fox News

Accents in Books

Coming soon

Quotes on Accents

“If my accent betrayed my foreign birth, it also stamped me as an enemy, in the imagination of the producers.” - Béla Lugosi

“Anyone that has come to America past the age of eighteen will be able to understand when I say that you can never shake your accent.” - Martin Yan

“My accent remained terrible. It was very hard for me to initiate any conversation with someone I didn't know. “ - Lawrence Welk

“Only very rarely are foreigners or first-generation immigrants allowed to be nice people in American films. Those with an accent are bad guys.” - Max von Sydow

“I learned to change my accent; in England, your accent identifies you very strongly with a class, and I did not want to be held back.” - Sting

“I am trying to make my accent so it won't bother anyone, but I am not going to drive myself crazy trying to pretend I am an American girl when I am from Colombia.” - Shakira

"I was also going to give a graduation speech in Arizona this weekend, but with my accent, I was afraid they would try to deport me." - Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, referring to Arizona’s new immigration law, in his commencement speech at Emory University (Atlanta, GA), May 2010.

Personal Experiences with Accents

Opinion: In Arizona, Is My Accent a Crime?

back to Accents in the Media

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