B1 Intermediate US 75 Folder Collection
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- [Narrator] In the 1920s and up through the 1950s,
Hollywood had a particular way of talking.
- Come around about noon tomorrow.
- What are up doing up there, impersonating a book cover?
- Really?
- Really.
- [Narrator] It was called the mid-Atlantic
or transatlantic accent.
But we don't speak like that anymore.
So, what happened?
To know why it disappeared, we need a little history.
The accent is sort of a British American hybrid.
Linguistically speaking, it has three main tenants.
One, drop the R, like mothah and fathah.
Two, emphasize the T, like writah and wintah.
And three, soften your vowels, like daance and caah.
And this accent was acquired, so there's no line
tracing it back through history.
Some believe it came out of early radio
when base tones were difficult to hear.
But many attribute its popularity to writer Edith Skinner.
She actually wrote a book called Speak with Distinction,
which was the book to help you learn the accent.
Either way, it was a language for the American upper class.
People like FDR, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant,
they all used it.
But after World War II, the accent dwindled in popularity.
With a growing middle class, an aristocratic accent
was no longer fashionable.
As for Hollywood, acting methods changed,
and the accent was just too fake.
So, it disappeared.
If you've ever seen the show Frasier,
Niles and Frasier spoke with an updated mid-Atlantic accent.
- To let the woman I love die before your eyes.
That's right, I said I love her!
(audience laughing)
- [Narrator] Lovely.
(upbeat music)
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The Origin of That Old-Timey Accent in Classic Movies

75 Folder Collection
許大善 published on September 22, 2019
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