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Are authentic accents important in film and TV?

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20200116-are-authentic-accents-important-in-film-and-tv

bbc.com

Are authentic accents important in film and TV?
At the ripe old age of 100, Dr Dolittle has been reincarnated in the form of Robert Downey Jr. In the latest screen version of the children's literature classic, Dolittle, released in the US today, he is also Welsh... or at least Wales-adjacent.

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Our new accent fixation

We seem more obsessed with analyzing accents than ever before. Voice coaches draw millions of views for videos critiquing accents.

While there is a key to mastering an accent successfully, the real challenge for actors is being able to speak in such a way that it serves clarity and maintains authenticity.

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No more ‘funny voices’

Accents are part of the broader debate about representation in film and TV. Film and television are now available for screen-grabs and sound clips that allow us to reflect over performances for embarrassing mistakes.

The days when English-speaking actors put on accents and told the world they were Russian or German are over. The idea of an accent that is just a 'funny voice' is increasingly unacceptable, particularly one of a different nationality to the actor.

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Ignoring authenticity

Recently, an option seems to be ignoring authenticity completely and have actors perform in their native intonation. The hope is that the focus on the accent will fade away and cause viewers to stop caring about it.

The focus is more about being authentic to the essence of the story, rather than every tiny detail.

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Speech systems

Speech systems, rather than accents or dialects, should take into consideration the diversity of human speech and acknowledge how voices are informed by age, gender, time and cultural context.

A speech system without a full exploring of the context will come over as fake.

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Judging accents is subjective

How we judge accents often comes down to how important we think authenticity is.

Authenticity is probably not an essential element in a story. What we believe about a story is more important than what country or region a character sounds like they're from.

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3. Be Specific With Your Feedback

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4. Comment On Actionable Things

To help people improve talk about things they can do something about, rather than those out of their control. Critiquing the former makes your criticism constructive; critiquing the latter makes the person feel bad as they can’t do anything about it, even if they want to.

Understand the person’s situation and his/her objectives, then provide your critique based on that. And if you need to talk about something out of their control, balance it out by talking about things they can control.

5. Give Improvement Recommendations

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Learning a new language: knowing the most used words

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Learning cognates

Cognates are “true friends” of words you recognize from your native language that mean the same thing in another language.

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Interact in your new language daily

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