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  #1  
Old 07-11-2008, 01:21 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Scots dopers: How fake is Scotty's accent on Star Trek?

I've been wondering about this ever since I was a kid. When I started watching Star Trek at age 7, it was because of Scotty that I decided that Scotland is my favorite country. James Doohan was Canadian, but apparently he was well respected as an actor who could do accents. Indeed, I understand that his spontaneous Scottish accent while auditioning persuaded the writers to make Scotty ... er ... Scottish.

Decades later -- I've never been to Scotland, but I've heard many Scottish accents, and none of them sound like James Doohan's. Is it possible that such a well-respected accent-tician was actually a hack? How fake is Scotty's accent?
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  #2  
Old 07-11-2008, 01:34 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Eh, it's not great - it's a non-native trying to do a generic Scots accent, and not sounding like any Scottish person ever. That's all right though, because Scotty's a cool guy (a positive stereotype even - likes a drink and is a great engineer), plus I don't think James Doohan ever claimed any kind of authenticity.

Last edited by Baron Greenback; 07-11-2008 at 01:34 PM..
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  #3  
Old 07-11-2008, 02:12 PM
Merijeek Merijeek is offline
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According to Doohan, the only reason Scotty was Scottish was because Roddenberry told him to pick an ethnicity. Doohan felt that the Scots were natural engineers, so he chose Scottish.

Nice to see, that. I think a lot of actors would have gone with whatever accent was easiest for them.

-Joe
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  #4  
Old 07-11-2008, 02:24 PM
Lobohan Lobohan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Struan
Eh, it's not great - it's a non-native trying to do a generic Scots accent, and not sounding like any Scottish person ever. That's all right though, because Scotty's a cool guy (a positive stereotype even - likes a drink and is a great engineer), plus I don't think James Doohan ever claimed any kind of authenticity.
In the defense of Star Trek cannon, I hereby fanwank that the Scottish accent has drifted over the centuries so that Scotty in fact has a perfectly typical 23rd century Scottish accent.
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  #5  
Old 07-11-2008, 02:26 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Struan
Eh, it's not great - it's a non-native trying to do a generic Scots accent, and not sounding like any Scottish person ever.
How do you know that's not exactly how Scottish people will sound several centuries from now? Accents do change over time, you know.
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  #6  
Old 07-11-2008, 02:27 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merijeek

Nice to see, that. I think a lot of actors would have gone with whatever accent was easiest for them.

-Joe
Yeah, that too. In any case he isn't due to be born for a couple of hundred years, in the town of....well, that's a matter of some controversy in the real world.

http://www.cbc.ca/arts/story/2005/08...802scotty.html
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  #7  
Old 07-11-2008, 02:28 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lobohan
In the defense of Star Trek cannon
I think you mis-spelled that. You meant to spell it "photon torpedoes".

Last edited by Qadgop the Mercotan; 07-11-2008 at 02:29 PM..
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  #8  
Old 07-11-2008, 02:46 PM
ASAKMOTSD ASAKMOTSD is offline
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He sounds at least as Scottish as Jean-Luc Picard sounds French...
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  #9  
Old 07-11-2008, 03:13 PM
muldoonthief muldoonthief is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merijeek
According to Doohan, the only reason Scotty was Scottish was because Roddenberry told him to pick an ethnicity. Doohan felt that the Scots were natural engineers, so he chose Scottish.
I humbly submit, that had he picked Canadian, Star Trek would never have become the phenomenon it did.

Aye Cap'n - I dinna ken fix these engines!

vs.

Hey you hoser - how aboot giving me some more time to fix this, eh?
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  #10  
Old 07-11-2008, 03:50 PM
What Exit? What Exit? is offline
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For what little it is worth, when I was in Glasgow, I was shocked to hear some accents that actually did sound akin to Scotty's. I didn't hear anything else like it in the rest of Scotland.

I got the feeling that Glasgow is the mixing pot* of Scotland and probably had the most blended accent of the places I visited.

Was I imagining what I heard or is it possible that Doohan based it on a Glasgow accent?




* Actually it reminded me of Milwaukee.
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  #11  
Old 07-11-2008, 03:55 PM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is online now
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I've long described it as "Music-Hall Aberdeen."
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  #12  
Old 07-11-2008, 04:36 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by What Exit?
Was I imagining what I heard or is it possible that Doohan based it on a Glasgow accent?
A typical Glaswegian, yesterday (video)
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  #13  
Old 07-11-2008, 04:49 PM
What Exit? What Exit? is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Struan
Now that was a joke, I found the Glasgow accent one of the easiest to understand on American ears. I think it was near Kirriemuir I had the most problems. I stayed out on a farm and found some little tavern nearby that served a great steak. (I believe the town has a statue of Peter Pan as James Barrie was born there.)

I really recall the Glasgow accent to be relatively mild compared to a city like Edinburgh or a town like Sterling.
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  #14  
Old 07-11-2008, 04:49 PM
Oy! Oy! is offline
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The bandaged one, or the one behind the desk?
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  #15  
Old 07-11-2008, 04:55 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oy!
The bandaged one, or the one behind the desk?
Both.
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  #16  
Old 07-11-2008, 05:00 PM
Oy! Oy! is offline
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Well the one behind the desk sounded perfectly normal. The other one was unintelligible. That's not much of a pattern to go by.
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  #17  
Old 07-11-2008, 05:05 PM
Sir Rhosis Sir Rhosis is offline
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Now it may have just been Doohan covering his ass, but I've read several interviews where he claimed to have done a "generic" Scots accent on purpose because American audiences would not have been able to understand a full-blown Scots accent. I saw him at my one and only ST convention back in the early 90s, and he did a rnage of accents in a little skit along the lines of "What if the engineer had been_____?" Honestly, every accent he did was very broad and over-the-top to my ears.

I have to agree in some case. I recall watching an absolutely captivating movie from Scotland a few years back which (iirc) concerned a middle-aged drug addict falling in love with his counselor and trying to keep a young addict from going down the same road he had traveled (can't recall the title of the film). Even though it was in English, I was glad the damn thing was subtitled as I only understood about every fourth word.

Sir Rhosis
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  #18  
Old 07-11-2008, 05:11 PM
carlb carlb is online now
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Craig Ferguson frequently jokes on his show that he thinks Doohan sounds Pakistani. It's not that bad, but it is sort of generic-foreigner-trying-to-do-a-Scottish-accent.
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  #19  
Old 07-11-2008, 05:13 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by What Exit?

I really recall the Glasgow accent to be relatively mild compared to a city like Edinburgh or a town like Sterling.
It's Stirling, no "e", ken?
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  #20  
Old 07-11-2008, 05:16 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carlb
Craig Ferguson frequently jokes on his show that he thinks Doohan sounds Pakistani. It's not that bad, but it is sort of generic-foreigner-trying-to-do-a-Scottish-accent.
I wish I could see what Craig is doing on his sober-Craig chat show. He was funny when he was doing his stand-up as Bing Hitler.Very self-destructive though.
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  #21  
Old 07-11-2008, 05:59 PM
Gordon Urquhart Gordon Urquhart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Rhosis
I recall watching an absolutely captivating movie from Scotland a few years back which (iirc) concerned a middle-aged drug addict falling in love with his counselor and trying to keep a young addict from going down the same road he had traveled (can't recall the title of the film). Even though it was in English, I was glad the damn thing was subtitled as I only understood about every fourth word.

Sir Rhosis
It's not the film you watched, but I watched Bill Forsythe's Gregory's Girl on DVD last year (his Local Hero's a favorite movie of mine, natch), and had to turn on the subtitles to understand the dialect. After watching the movie, I discovered (via scenes from the original release in the Special Features) that the version I couldn't understand without subtitles was dubbed to make it more understandable.
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  #22  
Old 07-11-2008, 06:33 PM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
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Originally Posted by muldoonthief
I humbly submit, that had he picked Canadian, Star Trek would never have become the phenomenon it did.

Aye Cap'n - I dinna ken fix these engines!

vs.

Hey you hoser - how aboot giving me some more time to fix this, eh?


Everyone knows that all good engineers are Germans.


Captian, you haf a problem. Zee first is zhat zee engine is shit. Zee second is that it is a German National Holiday vhich means for me, I have a four day weekend. Beam me down to zee Canary Island, sank you very much.


Now, if Scotty were Japanese.

Rook, Captian, Deed Gorzirra piss in this or whut? I drank too much sake an' woke up in a Vegas Horogram. Wifa Was Wegas! Anywhooo, You ore fooked!


What if Scotty were Jamaican?


What's the worry, mon? We are not in the gravitational pull of any planet and if that happens, we will do a mass beaming of our staff down to safety. Smoke a spliff and lighten up, mon.



What if Scotty were a Redneck?


Welll, SHEEEEE-IT, Cappy. You done blown the flux capacitor like I said you would. Now's I can fix it. Alls I need is some duct tape, wire, tobacco, a potatoh, and a case of Coor's. Maybe two cases.
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  #23  
Old 07-11-2008, 08:06 PM
Darth Nader Darth Nader is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muldoonthief
I humbly submit, that had he picked Canadian, Star Trek would never have become the phenomenon it did.

Aye Cap'n - I dinna ken fix these engines!

vs.

Hey you hoser - how aboot giving me some more time to fix this, eh?
"Holmes, I need warp now!"
"Ooh, you see what they did here, eh?" (shakes head in sorrow) "It's all gonna come out, yeah, take it all out."
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  #24  
Old 07-11-2008, 08:45 PM
Ximenean Ximenean is offline
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I'm English but born in Scotland, and James Doohan's Scottish accent always sounded authentic to me. It sounded kind of rural, not at all like Glasgow or Edinburgh or wherever. But it did sound Scottish, to me, and I'm sure to other Brits. I think that that is pretty good going for a Canadian actor.
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  #25  
Old 07-11-2008, 08:57 PM
MonkeyMensch MonkeyMensch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Struan
Yeah, that too. In any case he isn't due to be born for a couple of hundred years, in the town of....well, that's a matter of some controversy in the real world.

http://www.cbc.ca/arts/story/2005/08...802scotty.html
You gotta fight!
...for your right!
...to Scoooooootty!

Last edited by MonkeyMensch; 07-11-2008 at 08:58 PM..
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  #26  
Old 07-11-2008, 09:02 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASAKMOTSD
He sounds at least as Scottish as Jean-Luc Picard sounds French...
[Hijack {but the OP's been answered}]Was Picard's English accent/French name and upbringing ever explained?
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  #27  
Old 07-11-2008, 09:05 PM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Struan
I wish I could see what Craig is doing on his sober-Craig chat show. He was funny when he was doing his stand-up as Bing Hitler.Very self-destructive though.
There are clips on YouTube, but also some RealVideo at CBS.
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  #28  
Old 07-11-2008, 09:08 PM
silenus silenus is online now
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The Hundred Years War was finally resolved. The Last Black Prince (Edward XVIII) won the 5th Battle of Crecy, and France was subsumed into the Anglo-Pakistani Empire.
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  #29  
Old 07-11-2008, 09:47 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by What Exit?
I really recall the Glasgow accent to be relatively mild compared to a city like Edinburgh or a town like Sterling.
My experience was exactly the opposite. Most Edinburghers spoke what I thought of as a "refined" (sorry about the choice of words) brand of Scottish English. I had no problems understanding the average Edinburgher. Glaswegians, on the other hand, were all over the place, with much stronger and musical accents than Edinburghers. I kinda thought Edinburgh accent:Glasgow accent as London accent:Birmingham accent.

Personally, I love the Glaswegian accent.
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  #30  
Old 07-11-2008, 10:44 PM
TWDuke TWDuke is offline
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While traveling through about a dozen European countries, the only person I met whose English was damn near unintelligible to me because of his accent was a Glaswegian, and I'm including many people who spoke English as a second or third language. I had no trouble whatsoever understanding anyone in Edinburgh.
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  #31  
Old 07-11-2008, 11:47 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Struan
Thank you! I've never heard of Rab C. Nesbitt before but that justifies upgrading from dialup even more than that a fast connection is now cheaper.

ETA: My daughters think David Tennant makes an ugly woman (see the Davina bit). I direct them back to their Monty Python collection and point out the extent their grandmother (on my wife's side) looks like Terry Jones. Thank GOD my wife doesn't take after her mom. By comparison, Tennant's not bad.

Last edited by dropzone; 07-11-2008 at 11:52 PM..
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  #32  
Old 07-12-2008, 02:13 AM
cochrane cochrane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro
[Hijack {but the OP's been answered}]Was Picard's English accent/French name and upbringing ever explained?
It's been fanwanked that Picard learned English from a British-born tutor, and so picked up his English accent.
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  #33  
Old 07-12-2008, 04:26 AM
chowder chowder is offline
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As an Englishman:

I say old chappies, we have a slight problem here

And what may that be old fellow

Well it appears this here thingy has given up the ghost, what

Oh never mind, put the kettle on, we'll have a nice cup of Earl Grey until some kind fellow happens along to sort it out
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  #34  
Old 07-12-2008, 12:01 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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I'm sure it's better than Walter Koenig's Russian accent.
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  #35  
Old 07-12-2008, 12:06 PM
Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell
My experience was exactly the opposite. Most Edinburghers spoke what I thought of as a "refined" (sorry about the choice of words) brand of Scottish English.
The "refined" accent that you are talking about is probably the Morningside accent, which is the equivalent of RP in Scotland. It isn't really representative of Edinburgh accents at all, which can be as incomprehensible as Glaswegian.
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  #36  
Old 07-12-2008, 12:10 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Struan
I wish I could see what Craig is doing on his sober-Craig chat show. He was funny when he was doing his stand-up as Bing Hitler.Very self-destructive though.
He had a very moving talk about the media's coverage of Britney Spears, and how he feels terrible for her considering his own background. Official CBS posting of the segment on YouTube, so it shouldn't be country-limited.
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  #37  
Old 07-12-2008, 12:30 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
The "refined" accent that you are talking about is probably the Morningside accent, which is the equivalent of RP in Scotland. It isn't really representative of Edinburgh accents at all, which can be as incomprehensible as Glaswegian.
You'd know better, of course. And I know there's rough accents in Edinburgh (just like there are in London, plus I understand the book Trainspotting was mimicking a certain Edinburgh accent and, lord knows, it took several days to get accustomed to reading it--I just didn't encounter that accent in my times in Ediburgh), it's just that in my day-to-day activities in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, Glasweigian accents seemed, on the whole in the central part of the city, stronger than the same in Edinburgh. I didn't find much, if any, "Scottish RP" in Glasgow.

But perhaps I just had an anomalous experience?

Last edited by pulykamell; 07-12-2008 at 12:33 PM..
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  #38  
Old 07-12-2008, 12:32 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder
He had a very moving talk about the media's coverage of Britney Spears, and how he feels terrible for her considering his own background.
Thanks for posting that Ferret Herder. It's good to see he is doing well, because at one point he was really caning it - even by Scottish standards.
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  #39  
Old 07-12-2008, 12:46 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell
You'd know better, of course. And I know there's rough accents in Edinburgh (just like there are in London, plus I understand the book Trainspotting was mimicking a certain Edinburgh accent and, lord knows, it took several days to get accustomed to reading it--I just didn't encounter that accent in my times in Ediburgh), it's just that in my day-to-day activities in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, Glasweigian accents seemed, on the whole in the central part of the city, stronger than the same in Edinburgh. I didn't find much, if any, "Scottish RP" in Glasgow.

But perhaps I just had an anomalous experience?
There's a large class element (for want of a better phrase) to the accents. In my experience Glasgow is much less class-conscious than Edinburgh - it's entirely possible that you could have met far fewer "working class" Edinburgh folk than the equivalent in Glasgow. And you are correct about the dialect in Trainspotting.
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  #40  
Old 07-12-2008, 12:58 PM
John DiFool John DiFool is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASAKMOTSD
He sounds at least as Scottish as Jean-Luc Picard sounds French...
Did Picard (Stewart) ever speak a single line of French during the entire run of the show (movies included)?
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  #41  
Old 07-12-2008, 01:10 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Struan
Thanks for posting that Ferret Herder. It's good to see he is doing well, because at one point he was really caning it - even by Scottish standards.
I thought that one might be especially poignant, so I wanted to point it out even though another link for his work was already posted.

Is that an "average" Glaswegian accent? I saw an episode of the show "How Clean Is Your House" where they helped a Glaswegian man tidy up and to the best of my recollection, his accent didn't sound all that different from Ferguson's, though a bit more "thick." It's been a while, though, so I could be misremembering.

Last edited by Ferret Herder; 07-12-2008 at 01:10 PM..
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  #42  
Old 07-12-2008, 01:14 PM
beowulff beowulff is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirley Ujest
What if Scotty were a Redneck?


Welll, SHEEEEE-IT, Cappy. You done blown the flux capacitor like I said you would. Now's I can fix it. Alls I need is some duct tape, wire, tobacco, a potatoh, and a case of Coor's. Maybe two cases.
Yeah, we had to wait until Enterprise to get a cracker Engineer.
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  #43  
Old 07-12-2008, 01:21 PM
Bayard Bayard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John DiFool
Did Picard (Stewart) ever speak a single line of French during the entire run of the show (movies included)?
I believe so. In one of the movies (I think), he met up with his brother, who was a farmer in France, and I think they exchanged some French. He also in one episode led a group of children in singing "Frere Jaques", if you count that.
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  #44  
Old 07-12-2008, 01:30 PM
choie choie is offline
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Quote:
Did Picard (Stewart) ever speak a single line of French during the entire run of the show (movies included)?
In addition to what Bayard said above (refering to the episode "Family"), he and his brother Robert sing the French song "Auprès de ma Blonde" in the same episode; later that same season, in the ep "Final Mission," Picard sings it by himself when he's lying half-conscious. Seems to be a song/language he reverts to when vulnerable or thinking of his childhood.

Last edited by choie; 07-12-2008 at 01:31 PM..
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  #45  
Old 07-12-2008, 01:31 PM
JThunder JThunder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John DiFool
Did Picard (Stewart) ever speak a single line of French during the entire run of the show (movies included)?
He muttered the word "Merde" in both "The Last Outpost" and "Elementary, Dear Data."

Shocking, I know.

Last edited by JThunder; 07-12-2008 at 01:31 PM..
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  #46  
Old 07-12-2008, 01:52 PM
Fish Fish is offline
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Originally Posted by BrainGlutton
I'm sure it's better than Walter Koenig's Russian accent.
I worked with two people from Moscow who each had a very similar accent to that of Chekov. Russia's a big place. Not all Russian accents sound like Boris Badenov or the fat diplomat from "Chess."
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  #47  
Old 07-12-2008, 01:52 PM
Le Ministre de l'au-delà Le Ministre de l'au-delà is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro
[Hijack {but the OP's been answered}]Was Picard's English accent/French name and upbringing ever explained?
I seem to remember an episode in which Data was going on about French and how it was a dead language from Earth. Picard took umbrage and pointed out that for centuries French had been the language of diplomacy. Riker politely suggested to Data to drop it. The implication of the whole scene was that French had died out. Does anyone else remember details of this episode/exchange?
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  #48  
Old 07-12-2008, 02:01 PM
Darth Nader Darth Nader is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Ministre de l'au-delà
Riker politely suggested to Data to drop it.
Ah, diplomacy
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