Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CNN Is Chasing BBC’s Tail In Asia.

CNN Asia has obviously decided that accents are very important. What other excuse could there be for the fact that almost all on-air personalities have British accents.

I have always been fascinated by accents, being able to tell where someone is from because they insert an ‘r’ in the middle of the word ‘warsh.’ (Indiana) My own natural accent is Working Class Queens, which not only tells people where I’m from but also suggests to many people that I have a poor education. If I’m not careful, I sound a lot like the guys in those World War II movies that were always named “Brooklyn,” or maybe “Nutsy.” They were good Marines, but they were always un-gelernte and kind of crazy. They usually died.

Until I was nineteen, I didn’t even know that I had an accent. I just thought that the rest of the country spoke too slowly. For a long time, I didn’t care. When later in life I became a lawyer I worked at mastering the conventional version of the English language, I learned to speak slowly and correctly, even pronouncing the ‘r’s,’ which was a sacrifice because they still hurt my throat.

I court, I sounded like a good American news announcer. Unless I detected a New York accent in the judge, that is. There was a guy on the bench of the Superior Court in downtown L.A., Joseph something-or-other, and he had an accent like a Brooklyn tug-boat captain, in his court I let it all hang out. “Ahh, your ‘ahner, ‘der’s more ‘dan one way to look at ‘dis ‘ting.” He never seemed to notice.

On the other hand, in America, when people hear what seems to be a British accent they automatically think that the person is highly intelligent and well educated. Well, CNN obviously believes that’s true. CNN Asia is trying to out-do the BBC in British accents. English White men; lots of Indian women; it’s a monument to the British Empire.

This is very sad, because as I have blogged before the English speak a version, or versions is more like it, of the language that they made famous which many people around the world find very difficult to understand. Even the BBC kind of acknowledges this: their own announcers now speak a very neutral brand of English, one could dare to call it “CNN English.”

Another of life’s minor annoyances, brought to you by Spin Easy Time!


Anonymous said...

Have you seen the Iraqi correspondent? He seems legit.A real deal Iraqi that can go into places others can't.

fred c said...

I haven't, the programming is completely different over here. Different sensibilities to avoid hurting, I suppose.