Game of Brogues

From Max Read's fantastic article nitpicking the inconsistencies in Game of Thrones' deployment of regional British accents:

"The show has dragons, who cares if the accents don't match?": Well, first of all, I care. Second of all, the cornerstone of science fiction and fantasy fandom is nitpicking. Third of all, the fact that Game of Thrones doesn't take place within our collectively agreed-upon reality doesn't release it from its responsibility to verisimilitude or the maintenance of internal consistency within its own systems.


  1. I can willing-suspension-of-disbelief misplaced or strained accents, except when siblings look and sound like they came from different countries. That always jars me.

  2. Meh. The first complaint in the article essentially amounts to: “The young Stark actors aren’t as good as the older ones at duplicating regional accents”. Which feels kind of unfair.

    Other variances can be chalked up to class differences. I’m much more inclined to agree with the complaint about the totally inappropriate accents of King Robert and Thoros of Myr.

    I have a good ear, and I’m pretty good with mimicry. But my North American ear has a lot of trouble picking out, much less duplicating, the differences between a Liverpool and a Sheffield accent. Is the author implying that the actors should have been cast differently, or that every actor should be an expert on accent mimicry? 

      1.  Howay man, I’m a Geordie, and I can tell (some) American regional accents apart…

    1. It makes sense that ears would be attuned differently.  I’d have to concentrate to pick out the differences of accents in Thrones, but on the other hand, I can get seriously bugged about actors from the UK doing bad/regionally inappropriate American accents (see, for example, True Blood).

    2. ..that every actor should be an expert on accent mimicry?

      Does that seem unreasonable if your job is pretending to be other people?

      1. It is kind of unreasonable.

        Some performers are superlative actors yet have terrible accent mimicry.  Ever see Deniro try an accent?  You throw a heavy metal object at the flatscreen to end the misery. 

        The mystery to me is how the Brits/NZ/AU are so goddam amazing at doing American accents: Damien Lewis, Hugh Laurie, everyone on The Walking Dead.  They nail us and we cannot nail them.

        1. Maybe its because more often, the actors are coming from what is percieved to be the ‘Standard’ English accent, and then working towards (without trying to comment on the quality of an accent, I don’t like to subscribe to the idea that there’s a ‘proper’ way to speak a language, so long as you’re understood) a ‘Derivative’ knowing when to add and subtract things like Glottal Stops, Noun-ing your Verbs and the different constructions of grammar the multitude of American accents hold.

          Besides a catch-all ‘American’ accent is easy to pull off, because you can pastishe all the quirks together, but its much harder to go regional. Its very hard to place Laurie’s accent, and if an actor does at a regional tint to his American impersonation, its usually something very general like ‘West Coast’ or ‘Southern’ or ‘Texan’. Although that said, I’ve been working on a workable West Virginian, but realistically thats still incredibly broad.

        2. Ever see Deniro try an accent?

          One of the thousand or so reasons that Kenneth Branagh’s Frankenstein turned into an accidental comedy.

          1. I watched that in a class. explains why People laughed when the hanging and the overhead lamp crushing scenes took place.

          2. I thought that the wet, oily Kenneth Branagh self-body-worship scene was the real comedy gold.  There was really nothing right about that film.  One of the things that stuck in my mind was that, in an era when literally everyone got smallpox, the “monster” wouldn’t have gotten a second glance from the locals.

        3. Don’t know that I agree – the actor playing the Governor has a pretty weak American accent, especially noticeable on his “R”‘s.

  3. You can explain the Jorah Mormont inconsistency through his backstory. Didn’t he have a hoity-toity (or really-wanting-to-be-hoity-toity) wife that made them spend lots of money and time on acting and living like they were rich and Southern? And then he ran out of money and tried to sell slaves and then they had to flee to Esteros and then she left him? 

    My fanwank: Jorah adopted that accent first as way to ingratiate himself to his wife and look more high class. Then, later, he kept it out of habit and because it makes him sound more official and important while he’s wandering around in exile. 

  4. What HBO could do is claim that “No, those aren’t English/Scottish/Irish accents.  Nope, those are Welsh accents…”

    I find THOSE wander all over the place, even within the same family…sometimes sounding ‘Mercan, sometimes freakin’ incomprehensible, sometimes merely unidentifiable…

    1. Welsh don’t actually have accents; they’re simply modulating their tones in a melodic fashion to hypnotize their victims before “fleecing” them.

          1. Even the Royal Family is easing away from it. Boris, on the other hand, is still going strong.

  5. I watched Robin Hood Prince of Thieves with my highschool pal and his dad, an eminent ornithologist.  His dad couldn’t make it through the movie – the frequent use of North American birdsong was too much for him.

    1. We refered to the “star” as The Surfer Dude of Sherwood Forest for years after that movie came out.

      1. Funny thing, his dad is also English, but the accents just struck him as silly, they didn’t stick in his craw the way the birdsong sound effects did.

    2. my best friend’s step-mother makes $74 every hour on the laptop. She has been out of a job for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $15434 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on  Zap2­2­.c­om

    3. You can never watch anything with a medical theme after working in health care.

      1. Thank god every movie involving computers always gets the details 100% right. Otherwise I’d find movies like “The Net” completely unwatchable.

  6. Not all that weird. Back in highschool, I was friends with a couple of brothers from England. Every single member of their family had a noticeably different accent.

  7. I personally am waiting for the day when we get a big name fantasy franchise on the screen where everyone is using thick southern accents.

    I think it’d be fun just to observe the American public revolt because I don’t think they would know what to do when a king doesn’t have a British accent.

      1. “Oh look, we have created enchantment,” was already there for the picking.

  8. “Third of all, the fact that Game of Thrones doesn’t take place within our collectively agreed-upon reality doesn’t release it from its responsibility to verisimilitude or the maintenance of internal consistency within its own systems.”

    I didn’t get a “harrumph” outta that guy.

  9. This is similar to the ‘apostrophe wars’ in REAMDE. A video game had a bunch of in-game names that used apostrophes to suggest glottal stops or some kind of pronunciation cues, as well as just make the fictional world more exotic. Then the developers brought in a scholarly linguist to bring up the intellectual rigor of the game’s premise, and he absolutely refused to touch it while those meaningless, inconsistent apostrophes were all over the place.

  10. In the book ‘Smoke’ by Donald Westlake, a couple attend the funeral of their late corporate employer, at a church on Park Avenue.  A church so hoity-toity – ‘it steered a delicate course between Roman Catholic-cathedral ostentation and Methodist-chapel humility, managing to make itself and everyone connected with it seem utterly insincere from any angle.’

    Everyone is seated in the pews and the eulogy begins as seen through the eyes of Peter and David:

    ‘Then the minister, or pastor, or parson, or deacon, or whatever he called himself, stood up and delivered the eulogy.  Peter and David didn’t listen to the sense of it, because they were trying to figure out the accent.  Where *was* the man from?  Nowhere in America, certainly.  Nowhere in Great Britain they’d ever heard of, though sometimes there was a trace of something very BBC audible down in there.  Not Australian, not South African, obviously not Canadian.

    But still it wasn’t a foreign accent, either.  It was as though through all his formative years, this person in this cassock had never had the opportunity actually to listen to any human being in conversation, but had merely watched an indiscriminate melange of movies from all over the English-speaking world, so that he emerged from the experience at the end with a pudding of accents, in which every word was recognizably from the mouth of a native English-language speaker, but no string of words had any geographic coherence.’

    I think this is what you get when casts are made up of actors from a variety of English-speaking countries — a pudding of accents — or a country where English is the second language and the actor has learned to speak in a manner that is relatively but imperfectly unaccented.  The melange lends itself well to fantasy worlds like Westeros, but confuses the crap out of increasingly global hearing Earthlings.

    Also we, the English speakers, may not represent the bulk of the market this HBO series will see in the future.  That will be in the non-English-speaking world and the bigger part of the population of the planet.  There the pudding of accents will be less noteworthy, as they watch the series via subtitles.

  11. Tyrion, played by Peter Dinklage, is already “afflicted” with several physical impairments. He’s got short stature, a huge head (in the books), and some degree of facial trauma (massive in the books, minor in the show).

    Dinklage is doing a fantastic job in most respects, but I wish they’d just let him use his normal American voice. It could so easily be explained away as a “speech impediment.” As things stand… yeah, it’s not good.

    1. Sorry.  No American for Dinklage: his entire family all have Brit accents, so he gets Brit accent. 

      Littlefinger can have a US accent because we don’t know where he’s from.  Plus, he’s a bit of a shyster.

  12.  I wasn’t losing sleep over it, but it did strike me, why does the sword-teacher-guy basically talk like Inigo Montoya?    Because every fantasy world has a warm and sunny further-south not-Spain on the not-Mediterranean?      Mind you, making him not have that accent would be equally arbitrary.   And the actor was great.    I’m just sayin’.  

  13. “Third of all, the fact that Game of Thrones doesn’t take place
    within our collectively agreed-upon reality…”

    Star Trek kind of baffled me when they hired an African-American Klingon.

      1. No, because neither Africa nor America is on planet Klingon.  Neither is Europe.

    1. I had no problem with the black Klingons, since they already had dark makeup on.  Black vulcans (ST:Voyager) took a little bit of getting used to, however.

      1. Really? I was always confused at the lack of colours in Star Trek? It always urked me that Andorians were all roughly the same shade of blue, but yet we have all this variety in the Earthlings.

        But I mean the show did struggle trying to show any kind of variety of differences between individual races. I mean I love the show, but Logic Aliens, Warrior Aliens, Sneaky Aliens, Greedy Aliens. Where’s my humantarian Klingon? Where’s my communist Ferengi? My honorable and truthful to a fault Cardassian?

        1.  Yes, but, not being Andorian, how would you distinguish the very subtle differences in hue in a representative sample of Andorians?

  14. Reminds me of “How To Train Your Dragon”.

    They are Vikings.

    The adults all have Scottish accents (which is just about excusable), but the kids all have american accents. I always found that jarring.

    But it was such a great film that I think I’ll cope :)

  15. I can’t wait till the DVD version comes out with closed-caption High Valyrian; I don’t speak fluent Common like all you people seem to.

  16. I clearly have low expectations – I’ve been thrilled that they’re at least trying to get the Starks and Northmen to speak in the same accent. I just appreciate that someone is putting in at least some effort.

  17. Roose Bolton doesn’t make much sense but is probably a way of showing that they might have mixed allegiances (they seem to be playing Rob and the Lannisters against each other).

    Robert Baratheon doesn’t make much sense as a broad Yorkshireman, but it loosely fits his character of being a fighting man, uninterested in the politics of court. He should’ve had a midlands accent if I recall the geography of Westeros. However, a Brummie king might’ve been a step to far (think Ozzie Ozborne).Thoros doesn’t make sense, unless we assume his “common tongue” tutor also had an estuary accent.The Stark girls shouldn’t speak in broad Yorkshire. They were being bred to be noble princesses married to some southern lord for the sake of some alliance, while their brothers were being bred to rule the north. I’m sure that many British royal brides have come from non-London backgrounds, but they all speak perfect RP.I also like how Sansa’s accent is more posh and her accent sounds more affected than Arya’s.Littlefinger is a social climber. He’s not going to speak in the (Welsh?) accent when he’s trying to be all posh. His weird accent is (unintended?) brilliance, since he’s trying to sound posh but not really getting it. He sounds like an non-Englishman trying to an impression of the English upper class accent.Overall, it’s pretty good. They’ve made some effort and it’s not a good idea to restrict the casting of a fantasy-land show based on only actors that can do a perfect regional accent.

Comments are closed.