Yesterday, I went on a bit about using regionally-appropriate language, especially if the character in question is of a different nationality from the actor playing said character. For my next unnatural act, I am going to go on a bit about regional pronunciation.
I had thought this rant was already written, but if so, I can’t find it. I know I have had the conversation plenty of times.
Ever watched something set in or near your hometown? Did the characters sound like they were locals? Why or why not (show your work).
My example is this: back in 2000, the USA channel aired a made-for-TV movie of Robert Parker’s “Thin Air.” The bulk of this movie is set in the Massachusetts town of Haverhill. There are two things I remember about this movie:
- I don’t buy Joe Mantegna as Spenser, and
- Nobody in the entire movie pronounced the town name like a Massachusetts native would.
All my life, the name “Haverhill” has been pronounced “HAY-vrill” (well, the i is more of a schwa, but I can’t be bothered to find the encoding for schwa – I’d rather take the time and effort to type about how I can’t be bothered to do a simple Google search). But all the characters in the movie (including alleged natives of that town) called it “HAVE-ur-hill.” Even the people trying for a Massachusetts accent.
Now, I’ve done it. All of my New England readers have run screaming from the room.
So, instead of just watching the movie (or turning it off, which would have been a better option), I kept waiting for someone – ANYONE to pronounce the town name like someone who had spent even a week in Massachusetts would*. And when they didn’t (not a single person did), I kept flinching and putting my tongue between my teeth the way you do when someone skrees a chalkboard.
Please, oh people who spend vast amounts of money to make television entertainment, get’chiself some real local cullah if yer gonna make ye’self some wicked pissah entuhtainment.
*Well, anyone who was trying to impersonate a native. My Indiana-born-and-bred grandmother still calls Worcester “WUR-ches-ter,” when EVERYONE knows it’s “WUS-tah.”**
**I think that’s the key to the Mass accent – fewer syllables.