The Sound of Your Voice or British vs. Southern accents


When you’re watching tv or some other conduit of culture, have you ever noticed how a British accent is used as a sort of audio clue that implies that the speaker is well-educated, intelligent and therefore seems like a superior person in a way?


Think of Simon Cowell on American Idol or that chick that was on You Are the Weakest Link. Don’t they seem just a little extra snobby and superior with those accents? The Weakest Link in America died shortly after they replaced her with an American man. Can you imagine American Idol without Simon? No way–no matter how some people may hate him occasionally, if he left the show, it would be over.


I don’t have a comprehensive list of all the characters that have British accents on tv, but is it my imagination that most of them seem to be either snobby and self-important, or genuinely well-educated and important? Ok, maybe not “Charlie” on Lost…but you know what I mean…


Now, how often is a Southern accent (as in Southern US) used as an audio clue to show someone being a dumbass? I don’t think there’s quite as many examples of this, due to Southerners being touchy about it, but unfortunately some of our brothers from the South are busy being idiots in real life, making all the rest of us look bad.


Surely I don’t need to point out that not all British people are well-educated, snobby, self-satisfied, superior or intelligent–and neither are all Southern Americans a bunch of ignorant religious right-wingers hell-bent on establishing a Christian regime in America. But you know what people think when they hear those different kinds of voices!


(I’m fascinated with how the actual sounds of words and dialogs and songs affect us.)


So you could write a skit with two people having a debate–let’s say they debate creationism vs. evolution. Or something where one side uses logic and the other side uses fuzzy thinking. Tweak it so the dumb one talking is really stupid.


Then give the smart one the Southern accent and give the dumbass the British accent.


Hee, hee.



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