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  #1  
Old 03-06-2012, 05:27 PM
Shoeless Shoeless is online now
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Babylon 5 question: Londo Mollari's accent

I'm currently watching Babylon 5 on DVD from Netflix. I watched quite a bit of it several years ago when SciFi or some other cable channel was rerunning it, but I've never seen it from beginning to end.

One question that's popped into my head as I'm finishing up Season 1: is Londo Mollari's accent supposed to be a Centauri accent? Because none of the other Centauri I've seen so far speak with that accent, so I can't figure out if the accent is the character's, or if it is the actor's. If it's the character who speaks that way, why is he the only one?



Also, I just wanted to share a fun background detail I noticed in the episode "Signs and Portents." When Lord Kiro and Lady Ladira first arrive on the station and Ladira starts having her "vision", she is in front of a display panel showing events scheduled on the station for that day. And amongst the various mundane events listed, you can see "Rolling Stones Farewell Concert". I guess it's no surprise that the animated corpse that is Keith Richards would still be rocking 200 years from now!
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  #2  
Old 03-06-2012, 05:31 PM
thirdname thirdname is offline
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It's not the actor's. His name is Peter Jurasik, he's from America, and he speaks with a normal American accent in interviews.
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Old 03-06-2012, 05:35 PM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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1. No, that isn't Peter Jurasik's original accent. He's from Queens.

2. Actually, I think Lord Rifa had a similar accent, as did other Centauris.

3. There's no reason everyone on an entire planet should have the same accent, you know.

Last edited by Alessan; 03-06-2012 at 05:35 PM..
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Old 03-06-2012, 05:40 PM
Miller Miller is online now
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The accent was an invention of the actor portraying the character, Peter Jurasik. Here's a clip of him at a con, reading a short elegy to Andreas "G'Kar" Katsulas. As such, I'd say it's supposed to be a Centauri regional accent - not all Centauri have it, although a few other actors tried to put their own spin on it. Lord Refa (seen here, getting one of the most justly deserved comeuppances in television) probably did it best next to Jurasik.

Ambassador Delenn, on the other hand, features Mira Furlan's natural Croatian accent.
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Old 03-06-2012, 06:48 PM
TBG TBG is offline
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Why should an alien race only have one accent? Earth has plenty of accents to go around, why shouldn't Centauri have more than one as well?
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:07 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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Why don't we see Peter Jurasik in everything? I mean, Londo is one of the best acted TV characters in TV history(my opinion). You think we'd see him as a "that guy" in tons of stuff.

Did he retire once B5 was done?
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  #7  
Old 03-06-2012, 08:59 PM
Chimera Chimera is online now
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No, he's done a small amount of work here and there.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0432867/
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:57 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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He also had a recurring run as "Sid the Snitch" in "Hill Street Blues," and was seen briefly as the nerdy accounting program in the original "Tron." But, yeah, he is a really good actor.
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBG View Post
Why should an alien race only have one accent? Earth has plenty of accents to go around, why shouldn't Centauri have more than one as well?
Presumably, accents will tend to merge as transportation and communication technologies become better and better.

Even today, regional accents are dying out. I'm 24, and none of my friends have very thick accents, even though some of their parents certainly do.
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Old 03-07-2012, 06:09 AM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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Originally Posted by TBG View Post
Why should an alien race only have one accent? Earth has plenty of accents to go around, why shouldn't Centauri have more than one as well?
Because what we're hearing is them talking via the universal translator - we're not hearing what they're actually saying. So the characters should all have the same accent unless either the software doesn't work with their language fully or they choose to be represented in a different accent. Perhaps Londo wanted to sound foreign to demonstrate that he's different to the rest.
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Old 03-07-2012, 06:59 AM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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"Universal translator"? What universal translator?
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Old 03-07-2012, 07:14 AM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is offline
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"we have analysed your language files!"
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  #13  
Old 03-07-2012, 07:19 AM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
"Universal translator"? What universal translator?
Well, I'm just assuming there is one - otherwise everyone's learnt to speak English perfectly except for minor accent differences, including most of the ordinary poor people from distant planets.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:48 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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There are translators (I'm assuming Kosh is using one) but hardly Universal ones. Everyone we see speaking English is presumably aware that they are going to, you know, a Human space station, so they learned the language. ETA; And sometimes poor aliens are shown speaking poorly.

Or they're speaking their own languages to each other and we're hearing it translated, but they're not, like the convention when German soldiers speak to each other in German-accented English.

Last edited by MrDibble; 03-07-2012 at 09:49 AM..
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  #15  
Old 03-07-2012, 09:57 AM
Dendarii Dame Dendarii Dame is offline
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Originally Posted by TBG View Post
Why should an alien race only have one accent? Earth has plenty of accents to go around, why shouldn't Centauri have more than one as well?
As the Doctor put it, "Lots of planets have a North!" (This was the ninth one, and Rose Tyler was surprised that an alien had his type of accent.)
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:58 AM
Mr. Excellent Mr. Excellent is offline
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
There are translators (I'm assuming Kosh is using one) but hardly Universal ones. Everyone we see speaking English is presumably aware that they are going to, you know, a Human space station, so they learned the language. ETA; And sometimes poor aliens are shown speaking poorly.

Or they're speaking their own languages to each other and we're hearing it translated, but they're not, like the convention when German soldiers speak to each other in German-accented English.
Yah - Babylon Five is actually pretty parsimonious with magical tech. I mean, yes, there *is* magical tech - godlike aliens, psionic powers, and so on. But the everyday world is somewhat more "grounded" - starting with the fact that gravity on human ship is generated through rotation. I have no problem believing that the population of a human-built and human-administered space station would make a point of learning a human language, and English would be a likely choice.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:05 AM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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Wait, what was the status of tranlsation machines on B5? I've forgotten.

Farscape uses a translator microbe

Star Trek uses a universal translator

B5 does what?
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  #18  
Old 03-07-2012, 10:14 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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B5 doesn't have universal translators that I remember. ISTR the Gaim had a translator built into their helmets but in general the aliens spoke English (or Earth or whatever it was called), and for dramatic purposes we got a translation of the alien-alien conversations. Also, I think the Vorlons communicated directly to the brain so translation was a moot point.

Wasn't there an issue with the crews of the White Star fleet who only spoke Minbari, so Ivanova and Sheridan had to learn the language?
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  #19  
Old 03-07-2012, 10:17 AM
Miller Miller is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
There are translators (I'm assuming Kosh is using one) but hardly Universal ones. Everyone we see speaking English is presumably aware that they are going to, you know, a Human space station, so they learned the language. ETA; And sometimes poor aliens are shown speaking poorly.

Or they're speaking their own languages to each other and we're hearing it translated, but they're not, like the convention when German soldiers speak to each other in German-accented English.
Probably a mix of both. Presumably, when we see Delenn talking to the Grey Council with no non-Mimbari around, they're not actually speaking English to each other. But when she's talking to Sheridan, I think she's meant to be speaking Earthman to him.
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  #20  
Old 03-07-2012, 10:17 AM
Ambrosio Spinola Ambrosio Spinola is offline
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Translation machines do exist for species which can't physically make human-language sounds (the Gaim and the pak'ma'ra utilize them, for instance). But generally everyone has to learn to speak the language of whatever aliens they're around. The Minbari crews of the White Stars don't speak any human language, for instance, so when Ivanova (who doesn't speak Minbari, or at least not very much) is commanding one she has to bring along Marcus or Lennier to translate for her.

As for Londo's accent, in one of the DVD extras there is an interview with Bruce Boxleitner, who recounts that after he started working on the show he confronted Jurasik and demanded to know just exactly what kind of accent it was. Jurasik said that it was "an Eastern European accent" - in the accent. So my guess is that Jurasik was perfectly happy hamming it up and threw in a fun accent to allow him to do so more freely.
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  #21  
Old 03-07-2012, 11:06 AM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
There are translators (I'm assuming Kosh is using one) but hardly Universal ones. Everyone we see speaking English is presumably aware that they are going to, you know, a Human space station, so they learned the language. ETA; And sometimes poor aliens are shown speaking poorly.

Or they're speaking their own languages to each other and we're hearing it translated, but they're not, like the convention when German soldiers speak to each other in German-accented English.
Too many characters speak English for it to be just them learning it (it's not all the kind of characters that would have the opportunity to learn English), so I assumed there must have been some tech to help them - it's not beyond the realms of scientific possibility and a more satisfying explanation than us just always hearing English because it's a TV show.
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  #22  
Old 03-07-2012, 11:19 AM
silenus silenus is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gyrate View Post
Wasn't there an issue with the crews of the White Star fleet who only spoke Minbari, so Ivanova and Sheridan had to learn the language?
Yes there was. Ivanova tried to show off her command of Minbari to Marcus and set the guns to "continuous fire" rather than ordering whatever she originally wanted.
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  #23  
Old 03-07-2012, 11:39 AM
Loach Loach is online now
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I always thought he had a Bela Legosi/Dracula vibe going and decided to go with that type of accent. Other actors couldn't do the accent so they didn't.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:43 AM
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Yes there was. Ivanova tried to show off her command of Minbari to Marcus and set the guns to "continuous fire" rather than ordering whatever she originally wanted.
You're mixing two incidents together.
She wasn't trying to show off that time, she was just feeling frustrated, and it just so happens that "Ah hell" is Minbari for "continuous fire".
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Old 03-07-2012, 01:26 PM
MrDibble MrDibble is offline
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Originally Posted by SciFiSam View Post
Too many characters speak English for it to be just them learning it (it's not all the kind of characters that would have the opportunity to learn English)
It's the future - who know how hard it is to learn a new language - maybe there are accelerated learning methods, maybe there's a really low barrier to learning, etc. Maybe all the aliens are just better at picking up new languages...who knows.
Quote:
, so I assumed there must have been some tech to help them
Why assume when none is shown or mentioned in those cases, when we do have specific examples of tranlation devices for others, and the matter of persons as translators is occasionally dealt with?
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- it's not beyond the realms of scientific possibility and a more satisfying explanation than us just always hearing English because it's a TV show.
It's unnecessary. The issue of language is dealt with in the show.
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  #26  
Old 03-07-2012, 01:42 PM
Tom Scud Tom Scud is offline
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I believe (and don't feel like looking it up) that Jurasik sometimes referred to his accent as a "Pottsylvanian" accent, after Boris & Natasha from the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.
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  #27  
Old 03-07-2012, 02:30 PM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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The Centauris always had this late-period Austro-Hungarian vibe to them - a great empire sliding into elegant decline.
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  #28  
Old 03-07-2012, 02:40 PM
Intergalactic Gladiator Intergalactic Gladiator is offline
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It seems to me that a lot of characters who are aliens in TV shows take on individual characteristics that aren't shared by the rest of the species. Two other examples that I can think of off the top of my head are Counselor Troi's accent being unique -- not even being shared by her mother, and Chiana on Farscape who has her own way of crookedly walking sideways.
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  #29  
Old 03-07-2012, 02:41 PM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
It's the future - who know how hard it is to learn a new language - maybe there are accelerated learning methods, maybe there's a really low barrier to learning, etc. Maybe all the aliens are just better at picking up new languages...who knows.Why assume when none is shown or mentioned in those cases, when we do have specific examples of tranlation devices for others, and the matter of persons as translators is occasionally dealt with?It's unnecessary. The issue of language is dealt with in the show.
(BTW, sorry the quoting seems to have got messed up here).

I can totally buy an accelerated learning method, though to me that would be similar to the kind of tech I was thinking of (I doubt there'd ever be a method which was tech-free and we just haven't thought of it yet). I don't buy that multiple other species would be that good at learning languages. I don't remember language being dealt with as directly as that in the show, not for the characters that do appear to speak English for no apparent reason.

Does Londo ever speak in Minbari instead of English?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
The Centauris always had this late-period Austro-Hungarian vibe to them - a great empire sliding into elegant decline.
Yeah, they very much do, and his accent could kinda pass for Hungarian too.
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  #30  
Old 03-07-2012, 02:46 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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Originally Posted by Intergalactic Gladiator View Post
Chiana on Farscape who has her own way of crookedly walking sideways.
Yep, and that was initially caused by her inability to see properly out of her contacts. She eventually just included it as a character trait.
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Old 03-07-2012, 03:13 PM
Intergalactic Gladiator Intergalactic Gladiator is offline
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Originally Posted by Mahaloth View Post
Yep, and that was initially caused by her inability to see properly out of her contacts. She eventually just included it as a character trait.
Right. But it was so unusual and unique and it seemed to me a trait of her species. It wasn't though, as others like her did not behave like that.
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  #32  
Old 03-07-2012, 03:34 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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The Minbari crews of the White Stars don't speak any human language, for instance, so when Ivanova (who doesn't speak Minbari, or at least not very much) is commanding one she has to bring along Marcus or Lennier to translate for her.
Yeah, there was one funny bit where she's trying to speak Mimbari, and the show is subtitled to show what she's actually saying.

Those species on B5 who did use translator devices, we hear them making alien sounds, and then after a brief delay we hear a mechanical-sounding voice talking over it. In other words, about how you'd expect a real translator device to work.

And it's very iffy to generalize from Chiana to her whole species in any regard, since she's about as far from a typical Nebari as it's possible to be, given that everyone else is forcibly brainwashed to be perfectly conformist. And the reason for her funny walk may have originally been because she couldn't see well, but it persisted because, let's face it, it's sexy.
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  #33  
Old 03-07-2012, 04:54 PM
Foggy Foggy is offline
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B5 also had Interlac.

Quote:
Interlac: "Universal" language which is easy to translate between most known languages.
From: Babylon 5 Encyclopedia
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  #34  
Old 03-07-2012, 11:25 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mogle View Post
You're mixing two incidents together.
She wasn't trying to show off that time, she was just feeling frustrated, and it just so happens that "Ah hell" is Minbari for "continuous fire".
She also gave an order along the lines of "Port weapon! Fire brickbat lingerie!" when trying to speak Minbari. IIRC B5's videoconferencing system and a build in translator and we occasionly saw aliens appear to be speaking English, but with lip movements that don't match up (like a poorly dubbed film).
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