Thursday, 24 January 2013

RHOBH - BrE outpost in Beverly Hills

"Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" (RHOBH) is on ITV2 at the moment, every afternoon at tea-time (ten past four). Some people have called it "a horror film" but I enjoy it - and not just because my niece, Lisa, is in it.

One aspect of interest is how Lisa (mostly) maintains her BrE and English accent - NB I prefer "English accent" to "British" as the latter could be Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish etc - discuss? Ok, I  know the same reservations could be made about "English": do you mean RP, London, Estuary, Yorkshire, Cornish etc? But you know what I mean, or not...

One move towards an American accent is noticeable with "ass", as in "kick some" and other phrases. I queried whether she was discussing striking somebody's donkey or mule but, no. Lisa uses both "long and short a" pronunciations. I think she usually uses the short one "in quotes", though. I'll be listening out for other short a's creeping in but I think her BrE is part of her appeal and she will try to maintain it. The other housewives comment on her BrE from time to time, with an interesting mix of sarcasm and appreciation. One of them says she feels rather talked down to: an English or British accent is thought to have "class" but can still raise hackles. Husband Ken and friend Martin don't appear to be changing much and former house-guest Cedric has an interesting blended accent.

Another point of interest is that most of the housewives go for "I" rather than "me" much of the time, even after prepositions eg "between you and I". So do UK sports commentatators and perhaps most native speakers (statistics please?). In commentaries this trend extends beyond we/us ("to we viewers") to he/him eg "between he and Smith". Is there some sort of stigma attached to the object cases? Lisa's clever joke comes to mind here: "He calls me his sex object, but I object." The housewives have further extensions, getting  "I" into some new positions eg "A friend of Kim and I's".

Further research is necessary - yes, please, just a little cream on my scone, thanks Clydesale.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Too posh to ... do anything

I've been having some Twitter conversation with  @Lynneguist @BrianAGarner and @StanCarey about whether another usage started as AmE. Have you noticed that (younger?) people say things like "That was a mistake / good move on my behalf" when they mean "on my part"? I think it is now so widespread that "on my part" would sound old-fashioned or even weird to many people.

Someone else on Twitter then suggested that if you are really posh you don't have to do anything at all: you have servants to do everything on your behalf.

A test for many of these points might be "What would they say on Downton Abbey"? Oh, no, on second thoughts ... maybe I'll ask Lisa on " The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"?

Friday, 18 January 2013

Coloured Snow - Weather Again - Snow Warning!

Last night I heard on TV weather that "rain will be turning readily to snow" - re(a)dily? - and then that there was "a yellow snow warning". What a horrible combination.

Does any one else say "It's winter, in Britain. What do you expect - a herd of wildebeest?" when the forecasters talk of 10C in January being "disappointing"? They seem to think we are all on summer holiday and must have sun to go to the beach all year round. So "temperatures will be struggling", poor things. Why this need to anthropomorphise the weather? Rain is "organised" when not in "bits and pieces".

They are meant to be weather experts but why do they never seem to mention (still less show concern about) climate change?

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Cricketers' Names - Again

My son used to play with a boy called Thrower and I imagined the following scene:
Scorer (shouting): Bowler 's name?!
Captain and nearest fielder: Thrower!
Scorer: What?!
Captain: Thrower!
Scorer and both Umpires together: No ball!

Monday, 7 January 2013

First Female PM & MP? Meryl Streep - Iron Lady

I didn't really feel very keen to see "The Iron Lady", even though I have admired Meryl Streep's performances in the past. I was confident she would do a good job and probably even get the accent right but didn't go to see it in the cinema.

However it was on TV last night and in fact it was such a wonderful performance and impersonation - terrific in both language and acting terms - that I was unexpectedly moved. Not something I thought possible, and certainly not where those "terrible twins" were concerned!

The trailers showed big scenes in the House of Commons which looked pretty phoney but in fact the Cabinet and Opposition were reasonably convincing in close-up. However, it seemed that the Iron Lady was not only the first female PM but the first woman MP, too. A sad rewriting of history, erasing many notable women on both sides.