When someone from Britain speaks, Americans hear a "British accent"...

Steven D'Aprano steve at REMOVETHIScyber.com.au
Sat Oct 8 04:46:58 CEST 2005

On Fri, 07 Oct 2005 18:03:20 -0700, Luis M. Gonzalez wrote:

> Continuing with this off-topic thread about british accent and
> movies...
> I've always asked myself why do Hollywood movies about the Roman Empire
> show the Emperors and all the nobles speaking with british accent?
> They were italians for God's sake!

You would rather they speak in an Italian accent?

> Anyway, I can't imagine Julius Caesar speaking like Vito Corleone...


The BBC adaptation of "I, Claudius" had all the upper-class Romans
speaking in posh English accents (think of Queen Victoria), and the
servants, soldiers, slaves etc speaking in Cockney and other working-class

This, by the way, is closer to the historical truth than many people
imagine. The Latin we learnt in school was so-called "Classical Latin".
Your average Roman centurion spoke something that was to Classical Latin
as your boyz in the hood speaks to standard American English.

In the recent movie "Alexander the Great", which was nowhere near as bad
as the reputation it got (okay, it wasn't that good, but neither was it
bad), they did a similar thing. The Greeks spoke in very polished
English accents, while the Macedonians (who by their own admission had
been goat herders only to generations before) spoke in broad
Irish/Scottish accents, and the lower class they were, the thicker the


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