Mr Pavone
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Well, I just finished my Thanksgiving evening by watching The Australian film The Snowtown Murders.

Wow, that's some heavy stuff for Thanksgiving.

Anyway, while the story was particularly gruesome, the accents in the film were really thick and triply compounded by ad lib and mumblecore delivery.

Nothing against the Aussies, it's just the way the people from that area of the country speak. Indeed, there are regions of the USA and UK with their own dense dialect.

I guess anyone from the UK or Australia might have a similarly difficult time trying to parse out a heavy regional dialect from the USA, but here's my question.

Who's movies do you generally have a hard time deciphering the dialog? Aussie movies seem to have the toughest accent for me.
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Even though I'm not a native English speaker, most accents and dialects don't cause any trouble for me. Except one: Glaswegian. That's not English, right? We went on a two week trip in Scotland some years ago, and was a bit worried that we'd have troubles with the Scottish dialects. The only place where people were hard to understand was Glasgow. The Highlands and Isles...no problems.

The first time we saw Trainspotting it was a copy without any subtitles. We couldn't understand half of the dialogue.

Some of the dialects from the northern parts of England can be a bit hard as well.
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Tom McPhee
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JockiB wrote:
Even though I'm not a native English speaker, most accents and dialects don't cause any trouble for me. Except one: Glaswegian. That's not English, right? We went on a two week trip in Scotland some years ago, and was a bit worried that we'd have troubles with the Scottish dialects. The only place where people were hard to understand was Glasgow. The Highlands and Isles...no problems.

The first time we saw Trainspotting it was a copy without any subtitles. We couldn't understand half of the dialogue.

Some of the dialects from the northern parts of England can be a bit hard as well.


Trainspotting is set in our illustrious capital, Edinburgh, not Glasgow. Glaswegian tends to be a mixture of scots and English and is, to the untrained ear, potentially impenetrable.
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I hear that the Trainspotting dialog was re-recorded to be less difficult for its American release.

I don't watch many Australian movies. I grew up watching a lot of PBS, so the British isles are mostly OK for me to understand. I can't remember an English-lanugage movie where I had trouble understanding the accents. The one English dialect that really, really gives me trouble is Singaporean. Something about the cadence there really throws me for a loop, it is very difficult for me to figure out what people are saying. Luckily for me, they don't seem to make very many movies in Singapore.
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I once made the mistake of asking a policeman in Edinburgh for directions, I have never before been completely perplexed as to what someone is saying in my native tongue, but to this day I have no idea what that policeman said, even after getting him to repeat it.
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American movies with phony Aussie accents - makes me cringe.
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tommcphee wrote:
JockiB wrote:
Even though I'm not a native English speaker, most accents and dialects don't cause any trouble for me. Except one: Glaswegian. That's not English, right? We went on a two week trip in Scotland some years ago, and was a bit worried that we'd have troubles with the Scottish dialects. The only place where people were hard to understand was Glasgow. The Highlands and Isles...no problems.

The first time we saw Trainspotting it was a copy without any subtitles. We couldn't understand half of the dialogue.

Some of the dialects from the northern parts of England can be a bit hard as well.


Trainspotting is set in our illustrious capital, Edinburgh, not Glasgow. Glaswegian tends to be a mixture of scots and English and is, to the untrained ear, potentially impenetrable.


Yeah, but weren't some of the persons in the film originally from Glasgow, then moved to Edinburgh? Or was it the other way around? Either way...Glaswegian is really hard to understand. I remember our second visit to the city, when we bought some gift candy box in a shop. The lady at the counter said something, I said "What?", she repeated the question, I said "What?" again, then she repeated it again slightly slower and a bit clearer. I still could hardly understand her.
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JockiB wrote:
tommcphee wrote:
Trainspotting is set in our illustrious capital, Edinburgh, not Glasgow. Glaswegian tends to be a mixture of scots and English and is, to the untrained ear, potentially impenetrable.


Yeah, but weren't some of the persons in the film originally from Glasgow, then moved to Edinburgh? Or was it the other way around?


Wikipedia had the answer to my confusion:

"Despite being set in Edinburgh, almost all of the film was filmed in Glasgow, apart from the opening scenes of the film which were filmed in Edinburgh, and the final scenes which were filmed in London."

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I heard that Trainspotting is usually shown with subtitles in other parts of the English-speaking world. No probs for me though. A Glasgae accent being slurred by a drunk Glaswegian is as tough as it gets though.


I don't have too many problems with any to be honest (except Indian English sometimes). Noo Yoik is a miserable accent to listen to though.
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I've had trouble understanding some people in West Virginia. It's interesting too, they seem to be able to switch into a more standard dialect when they know you're not a native but when they're with friends, flip back to West Virginian. And it's not so much the pronunciation but the cadence.
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No problem with Trainspotting, but we have just started watching The Wire (yes, terribly behind the times) and some of the street dialogue is tough.
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Some South Africans are hard for me to follow, depending on where they are from. I also ran into Geordies that I couldn't understand to save my life, but I also think they may have been screwing with me since they seemed to be able to speak the Queen's well enough when they needed to.
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HamsterOfFury wrote:
I heard that Trainspotting is usually shown with subtitles in other parts of the English-speaking world. No probs for me though. A Glasgae accent being slurred by a drunk Glaswegian is as tough as it gets though.


I don't have too many problems with any to be honest (except Indian English sometimes). Noo Yoik is a miserable accent to listen to though.


It's not Noo Yoik, it's Noo Yawk. Head up tuh duh nort cuntree suhtine. I'm from the northern end of New York state and we speak an entirely different language up there.
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Years ago I went to England to attend the World Science Fiction convention when it was in Brighton. We landed in London and my wife told me to watch the luggage while she got the train tickets. So I'm standing there & this guy walks up & says something to me. I didn't catch it so I asked "what?". He repeated himself & I still didn't understand. The 3rd time I asked him to repeat himself it dawned on me that this guy is speaking English and I've no idea what he's talking about. After the 4th try I realized he was begging for change for a cup of coffee. I had a handful of coins I'd yet to learn the value of so I offered them to him and asked if it was enough. He said it was enough for three cups. I figured he'd earned it and let him have it all.

Another British guy who'd been standing next to us and watched the encounter leaned over and informed me that's was a cockney accent I'd just dealt with.

It's funny, I grew up with always watching TV with english subtitles because my little sister is deaf. Back then you needed a special box attached to the TV to get the subtitles if they were offered. Not like now, TVs have the option built in. Anyway as a result I prefer to watch most shows with that option turned on even if there's no issue of accent.
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A few years ago I introduced a couple of acquaintances of mine to each other. Both were from South Central LA. As soon as they got past names and part of the neighborhood, their conversation was lost on me.

Once I was flipping through channels and landed on an episode of Eastenders. I asked my wife, a recent immigrant to the US, if she understood any of it. She said, "Are they speaking English?"

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I'm really good at deciphering (and localizing) accents, but I've known Nigerians who spoke English as a native tongue but were incomprehensible.
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batcut wrote:
American movies with phony Aussie accents - makes me cringe.


Lots of Aussies playing Americans lately. And their accents are just as phony, though there are some whose accents are flawless (Rose Byrne, to name one.)
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JockiB wrote:
JockiB wrote:
tommcphee wrote:
Trainspotting is set in our illustrious capital, Edinburgh, not Glasgow. Glaswegian tends to be a mixture of scots and English and is, to the untrained ear, potentially impenetrable.


Yeah, but weren't some of the persons in the film originally from Glasgow, then moved to Edinburgh? Or was it the other way around?


Wikipedia had the answer to my confusion:

"Despite being set in Edinburgh, almost all of the film was filmed in Glasgow, apart from the opening scenes of the film which were filmed in Edinburgh, and the final scenes which were filmed in London."



The dialogue and accents are very east coast (Edinburgh) as that's where it is set. The accents and dialogues in Scotland can vary from village to village, and I can usually tell what part of my home city (Glasgow) someone is from just by the combination of diction and accent (easiest to tell apart is so called 'kelvinside' (west end of the city) and east end Glasgow slang). The pub where the character Begby causes an almighty stromash is in Glasgow, and is probably well known, in fact, to any of our non-scots students who quite possibly drank there. It's a wee pub called 'Crosslands' and is situated two mins away from one of the main halls of residence for the University of Glasgow.

This is my accent- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XILhWXbs3kc Although the chap isn't me- it's pretty much how I sound. Unfortunately the following is possibly the apogee of our cultural output- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huK0mIDAl30
(I jest, but not by much, lol). Interestingly the young chap who is pretending to be a 'ned' (non-educated delinquent or 'chav' to my english cousins) is a privately educated, erudite west-ender. I detest hearing strong glaswegian accents on TV, that rhotic 'r' really grates... orrr should that be rrreally grrrrates?

I struggled with the accents on 'the wire' but eventually tuned in. The other accent and language I struggle with is Bavarian and Austrian german (I can normally watch a german movie and at least follow the gist of the conversation if I don't watch the screen, but I tried to watch a movie called Hundstage- allegedly spoken german (albeit Austrian) but I couldn't make head nor tail of it.
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mister lunch wrote:
A few years ago I introduced a couple of acquaintances of mine to each other. Both were from South Central LA. As soon as they got past names and part of the neighborhood, their conversation was lost on me.

Once I was flipping through channels and landed on an episode of Eastenders. I asked my wife, a recent immigrant to the US, if she understood any of it. She said, "Are they speaking English?"



It's probably a good thing you didn't understand Eastenders. It should feature in Arkham horror- never has a product of popular entertainment been any more likely to drive you insane. It's the most depressing program on the face of god's good earth. Each episode should come with a health warning and instructions to remove sharp objects and paracetamol from your home.
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Irish accents. I happened to watch "My Left Foot" with Spanish subtitles when we rented it on VHS, because it was the only version the rental place had. While watching it we realized that we would not have understood even half of the spoken English!

Heavy Indian accents and pronunciation of English, especially when they are speaking among themselves, can be difficult to make out.

Jamaican English dialect is completely indistinguishable.
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I've developed about 4 different ways of speaking English since I've been here. I have my special "kiddie" English for my students, I have my "perfect" English for Japanese people (it's not too hard for me, it's the kind of British English that would make a Hollywood villain weep bitter tears of envy).

Then I have my English for speaking to North Americans.

Then I have my usual English for speaking to Brits and Aussies.

If I'm in an anti-American mood (which happens relatively often with the early 20s Americans we get coming over to Japan) then I just speak my usual English to them but extra fast. I have a Kent accent which is KIND OF a mix between cockney and Essex. We speak fast, omit the subject a lot in conversation (like the Japanese do in fact) and we drop a lot of Ts, Hs, Gs, say F instead of TH (sumfin) and slur a lot of words together.

They say Britain has the most accents and dialects per square mile out of any country. We learn to pick up any accent and understand.




Those who have listened to my Happy Happy Boardgame Love-In podcast...that's NOT my usual accent. That's my politer accent for foreigners.
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I love my accent:



and my favourite:

"Eesezeeantgorritburrabereeaz".
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I lent a copy of We Dive At Dawn to my friend from LA (well some part of LA but I can't recall precisely which bit just now). He returned it saying he couldn't understand a third of it.

You try. Skip through. The officers are fairly obvious, but do you fathom the crew?

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pavo6503 wrote:
Who's movies do you generally have a hard time with deciphering the dialog? Aussie movies seem to have the toughest accent for me.

Yes, certain Aussie accents are indecipherable to me, as is a heavy Cockney accent.
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NSFW

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