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Old 10-30-2014, 01:36 PM
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Brits: How is Gillian Anderson's British accent?


I always think of her as American as apple pie, in The X-Files and other stuff, but I understand she's done a lot of British film and TV work since. Listen at 2:53:51 here, for instance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddPlft8ve9s

What say you?

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 10-30-2014 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:39 PM
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I think she is British, isn't she?
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:40 PM
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She's from Chicago.
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:42 PM
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According to her Wikipedia entry, she was born in Chicago, then briefly lived in Puerto Rico, before her family moved to London. She lived there until age 11, at which point her family moved back to the U.S.
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:59 PM
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Miss Anderson lived 10 years in London until she was 11, and the first decade determining one's life means she's practically English anyway.

The youtube isn't available in my country, and downloading a 5 hour webm through a proxy would take some time, so I'll get back later on my views of this instance.
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:59 PM
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She sounds British but then she lived here for most of her younger years and I'm sure that sort of exposure tends to stick.
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Old 10-30-2014, 03:31 PM
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Well, it downloaded via SaveFrom.net --- as distinct from streaming --- 847 mb, which is large for a youtube; and I would say her accent is perfectly normal, middle-class London or Home Counties without regionalisms.

The downbeat tone seems pitched to this sort of British Modern police procedural --- which looks rather a downer.
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Last edited by Claverhouse; 10-30-2014 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 10-30-2014, 04:01 PM
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Here's another clip of her speaking on British television. And here she is on American television. To my American ears, her American accent sounds normal. I'll let British posters rule on her British accent.
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Old 10-30-2014, 06:36 PM
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I'm not British, but she sounds rather mid-Atlantic in her British interview. She'll sound Brit for a few words and then sound more US, back and forth as she talks. Considering her background which I learned in this thread, that makes sense. She probably isn't even aware she is sounding semi-British when she's over there.

I also saw her in some British production (Dickens, I think; movie or TV, I don't remember which) and she sounded consistently British in that. I imagine that she can easily do that when she is acting and focused on it. But she's not doing that in the interview.
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Old 10-30-2014, 06:53 PM
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In the Parkinson interview, there's bits of America slipping through a fairly normal Home-Counties-type pretty posh British accent. Given her upbringing, and also that she seems to spend a lot of time in London as an adult, and has done a lot of acting over here, that may well be her default accent nowadays.

Last edited by Baron Greenback; 10-30-2014 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 10-30-2014, 07:23 PM
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I also saw her in some British production (Dickens, I think; movie or TV, I don't remember which) and she sounded consistently British in that.
It was probably the miniseries Bleak House. She played Lady Dedlock.
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Old 10-30-2014, 11:17 PM
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From the Wikipedia page linked in post #4.
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Like some other actors (notably Linda Thorson and John Barrowman) Anderson is bidialectal. With her English accent and background, Anderson was mocked and felt out of place in the American Midwest and soon adopted a Midwest accent. To this day, her accent depends on her location — for instance, in an interview with Jay Leno she spoke in an American accent, but shifted it for an interview with Michael Parkinson.
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Old 10-31-2014, 02:10 AM
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From the Wikipedia page linked in post #4.

"Like some other actors (notably Linda Thorson and John Barrowman) Anderson is bidialectal. With her English accent and background, Anderson was mocked and felt out of place in the American Midwest and soon adopted a Midwest accent. To this day, her accent depends on her location for instance, in an interview with Jay Leno she spoke in an American accent, but shifted it for an interview with Michael Parkinson."


An interesting piece of PR this. She has the same habit that was routiney ridiculed until recently, that of drifting in and out of accents depending on who she last spoke to. Now, add a bullying angle and it's turned into rather a sweet trait.
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Old 10-31-2014, 04:56 AM
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An interesting piece of PR this. She has the same habit that was routiney ridiculed until recently, that of drifting in and out of accents depending on who she last spoke to. Now, add a bullying angle and it's turned into rather a sweet trait.
In hr defense I'll say that since I left Texas almost 20 years ago my accent (which wasn't very strong) has become a lot more uninflected...but after a few days back in Texas, it does start to come back. Unlike Madge, it may be happening unconsciously.
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Old 10-31-2014, 08:11 AM
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From the Wikipedia page linked in post #4.

Like some other actors (notably Linda Thorson and John Barrowman) Anderson is bidialectal. With her English accent and background, Anderson was mocked and felt out of place in the American Midwest and soon adopted a Midwest accent. To this day, her accent depends on her location for instance, in an interview with Jay Leno she spoke in an American accent, but shifted it for an interview with Michael Parkinson.
Interesting. My mother was born and grew up in Great Britain until she was around 13, then my grandparents moved the family here, to the suburban Detroit area. She had a more positive experience with her accent-- the other kids found her accent interesting and "exotic". Nevertheless, she adopted a midwestern accent at some point, I think unintentionally. She just lost her English accent. I think I asked her once to say something in an English accent and she said she couldn't any more. Even though my grandparents never lost their accents.
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Old 10-31-2014, 10:45 AM
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Gary Oldman has said that he's lived in America so long he had to re-learn his British accent.
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Old 10-31-2014, 12:10 PM
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We're friends with a British couple whose kids have lived in the Midwestern U.S. all their lives - now ages 10 and 8, I think. Both kids still have strong (and adorable) British accents just from exposure to their parents.
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Old 10-31-2014, 09:40 PM
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We're friends with a British couple whose kids have lived in the Midwestern U.S. all their lives - now ages 10 and 8, I think. Both kids still have strong (and adorable) British accents just from exposure to their parents.
On the other hand, I have family friends who all have different accents; the husband, his native New Zealand accent; the wife, Australian. Their daughter was born in England, and her accent is, of course, English. Ya pretty much get your accent from the kids you grow up with.
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Old 10-31-2014, 10:26 PM
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Josh Thomas, who some may know from his show Please Like Me, has a very weird accent. He was born and grew up in Queensland, Australia, but his accent is almost British, which some have ascribed to the influence of his Irish parents. Most kids don't have a strong influence from their parents accents, and tend to get it from the kids and culture they grow up in, but he's an interesting exception.
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Old 11-01-2014, 08:30 AM
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Ryan Kwanten, who played Jason Stackhouse in the HBO series True Blood is from Australia. His southern accent as this character sounds exactly like my 42 year old nephew who was born and raised in Memphis, TN

Last edited by longhair75; 11-01-2014 at 08:31 AM. Reason: fixed links. it seems to be fat finger typing day here
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Old 10-25-2018, 08:35 PM
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Bumped.

You can see Gillian Anderson in the recent spy spoof The Spy Who Dumped Me. A small part but she does well with it. At 2:08 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXkUaaVrB_s
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Old 10-25-2018, 08:54 PM
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Moving back and forth between countries is a lot more common than you might think. Saoirse Ronan spent the first three years of her life in the U.S. before moving back to Ireland with her Irish parents. Nicole Kidman spent the first four years of her life in the U.S. before moving back to Australian parents.
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Old 10-26-2018, 02:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Baron Greenback View Post
In the Parkinson interview, there's bits of America slipping through a fairly normal Home-Counties-type pretty posh British accent. Given her upbringing, and also that she seems to spend a lot of time in London as an adult, and has done a lot of acting over here, that may well be her default accent nowadays.
I agree with this. I note the Parkinson interview is over ten years old - I think she probably sounds less mid-Atlantic these days. More 100% British. Certainly in the British shows I've seen her in.
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Old 10-26-2018, 02:52 AM
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Originally Posted by GuanoLad View Post
Josh Thomas, who some may know from his show Please Like Me, has a very weird accent. He was born and grew up in Queensland, Australia, but his accent is almost British, which some have ascribed to the influence of his Irish parents. Most kids don't have a strong influence from their parents accents, and tend to get it from the kids and culture they grow up in, but he's an interesting exception.
I realise that I'm responding to an old thread, but I've just googled this guy, and he doesn't sound British at all. Some weird stuff going on there - bit Aussie, but American, bit god knows what. But not British!
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Old 10-26-2018, 04:36 AM
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Sorry, I screwed up a sentence.

I wrote:

> Nicole Kidman spent the first four years of her life in the U.S. before moving back to
> Australian parents.

I meant:

> Nicole Kidman spent the first four years of her life in the U.S. before moving back to Australia with her Australian parents.
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Old 10-26-2018, 07:32 AM
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"Like some other actors (notably Linda Thorson and John Barrowman) Anderson is bidialectal. With her English accent and background, Anderson was mocked and felt out of place in the American Midwest and soon adopted a Midwest accent. To this day, her accent depends on her location for instance, in an interview with Jay Leno she spoke in an American accent, but shifted it for an interview with Michael Parkinson."


An interesting piece of PR this. She has the same habit that was routiney ridiculed until recently, that of drifting in and out of accents depending on who she last spoke to. Now, add a bullying angle and it's turned into rather a sweet trait.
My daughter (raised in London by two American parents) has two accents. When she's around us or in America she speaks with an American(-ish) accent. At school or with her friends she speaks with a British accent. Her teachers find this hilarious, as she immediately switches when we arrive to pick her up from school, and we have to eavesdrop from outside the room (say, when she has a friend over) to hear what she sounds like when we're not around.
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Old 10-26-2018, 08:24 AM
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Recently I spoke with a woman with a surprising accent. I was at a restaurant in England. The waitress came over to take my order. She spoke with what was clearly to me an American accent. Later, when she came back to put down the food I'd ordered, I asked her where she was from. She said that she had spent the first twenty-two years of her life in Brazil. Her parents were British. Her father had moved the family to Brazil to start a business there, and she was born there. Her father wanted her to grow up speaking English. There was a British school near where they lived and an American school. Her father checked out the British school and decided it wasn't very good, so she did all her elementary and high school education at the American school. That was the accent she picked up. She never lived in the U.S., and eventually the family moved back to England. She said it was now kind of funny when she got together with her family, since she's the only one who speaks with an American accent.
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Old 10-26-2018, 08:40 AM
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Recently I spoke with a woman with a surprising accent. I was at a restaurant in England. The waitress came over to take my order. She spoke with what was clearly to me an American accent. Later, when she came back to put down the food I'd ordered, I asked her where she was from. She said that she had spent the first twenty-two years of her life in Brazil. Her parents were British. Her father had moved the family to Brazil to start a business there, and she was born there. Her father wanted her to grow up speaking English. There was a British school near where they lived and an American school. Her father checked out the British school and decided it wasn't very good, so she did all her elementary and high school education at the American school. That was the accent she picked up. She never lived in the U.S., and eventually the family moved back to England. She said it was now kind of funny when she got together with her family, since she's the only one who speaks with an American accent.
My twin nieces (in-law) are like this. Their mother is Welsh, father Swiss, they've lived in England, Germany, Brazil and only now the US (in the last 2 months). They've spent most of their lives in International Schools, and speak with a weird American-ish, Euro-English-ish. They sound like they're speaking English as a second language, even though it's their first. You could never guess their nationality (which is strange in itself - one has a British passport, one Swiss).
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Old 10-27-2018, 03:53 AM
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There are a number of well-known "facts" about changing accents. Most of them are true to some degree, but keep in mind that these particular "facts" bend and break with practice, skill, and determination. (Certainly there are people who can't change their accent, or who don't want to, but for those with both the ability and the desire, surprising things can sometimes be done.)
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Old 11-02-2018, 07:51 AM
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This discussion may have moved on a bit, but as a native Brit with a Linguistics degree (wherein I had a particular leaning towards Phonology and Forensic Linguistics), I'll wade in with a direct response to the OP: when she's being herself the accent may flit around a bit, but when she's in character being English it's impeccable.
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Old 11-02-2018, 04:53 PM
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I always think of her as American as apple pie
Absolute off-topic tangent, granted, but still: that always strikes me as odd. Oh, I know it's a thing - apple pie being American - but it feels like such a traditionally English thing too (because for hundreds of years it has been) that its being symbolically American seems strange.

Like, I don't know...saying "It's as American as beer and pretzels" to a Bavarian.

I'd have thought "American as..." would be better completed with something that's not just typical, but which is atypical elsewhere.
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:57 PM
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Yeah, for what it's worth, the expression "as American as apple pie" doesn't make much sense. Apple pie is common in many countries. A more reasonable expression would be either "as American as pumpkin pie" or "as American as pecan pie". Pumpkin pie originated in the U.S. and Canada, and pecan pie originated in the southern U.S.
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Old 11-03-2018, 12:57 AM
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This discussion may have moved on a bit, but as a native Brit with a Linguistics degree (wherein I had a particular leaning towards Phonology and Forensic Linguistics), I'll wade in with a direct response to the OP: when she's being herself the accent may flit around a bit, but when she's in character being English it's impeccable.
*snicker* I have a certain facility in picking up language when I hang out with people - I suppose it is the whole Canadian vacation thing where I needed to speak with the local kids to play with them, but they spoke French, so I picked up French. I spent my first 5 years in Germany, and we had a german maid of all work when we got back to the US [my grandparents imported her back in the early 20s and she stayed with the family, and is buried in the family plot] so I can speak a moderate amount of German which I had been augmenting with self teaching .. and I have a good copmmand of Spanish from managing to do 3 years of textbooks in one year [ my school required French, but caught on that I was using French class to flake out in, so they got the books, found me a teacher that spoke Spanish and so I had a private tutor and managed to speed along at a good clip. Love MOntessoru schools for individualization of learning =) ]


So .... if I am hanging with a Canadian English or Francophone, I start sounding like them. If I spend too much time on teamspeak with my Danish buddies, I start speaking English with that 'mashed potato' effect If I hang with my Norwegian buddies, I get the 'Swedish Chef' singsong inflections. I can end up sounding like I use a classic 'recieved' English accent ... My normal 'dialect' is the Western NY 'broad A' because I spent 15 years living in the Rochester NY area. I moved to Virginia and ended up sounding like a mid Atlantic coastal southerner. I had managed to confuse a Canadian from Ottowa at a large SCA camping event - he couldn't understand why I wasn't familiar to him, as the number of active SCA members that was in the Ottowa CA area was moderately small and 'inbred' and he knew most all of them. *giggle*
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Old 09-08-2019, 09:13 PM
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Bumped.

Gillian Anderson will play Margaret Thatcher in an upcoming season of The Crown: https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/07/enter...rnd/index.html

And I expect she'll do very well in the part, too!
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Old 09-08-2019, 09:37 PM
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She was in The Fall:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEXzWr0ke50
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Old 09-08-2019, 09:51 PM
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So .... if I am hanging with a Canadian English or Francophone, I start sounding like them. If I spend too much time on teamspeak with my Danish buddies, I start speaking English with that 'mashed potato' effect If I hang with my Norwegian buddies, I get the 'Swedish Chef' singsong inflections. I can end up sounding like I use a classic 'recieved' English accent ... My normal 'dialect' is the Western NY 'broad A' because I spent 15 years living in the Rochester NY area.
I'm a linguist and occasional actor. I have the same capability, which is not always appreciated. One Irish guy with whom I was having a beer thought at first I was mocking his accent, when I was just unconsciously picking up on his pronunciation and rhythm of speech.

My daughter was born in Moscow. Between the ages of one and two and a half, she lived with her Russian family and picked up the language perfectly, with almost no baby talk. She then came to live with me. She understood English because I had always talked to her in it, but she spoke it very poorly. I forbade her to speak Russian when she was with me and got her a Canadian nanny for while I was working.

She was speaking perfect, and I mean perfect English within two months. In both languages, it was like talking to an adult. Her accents were also absolutely perfect.

She moved to Canada with her mother in 2005, at the age of 10. When she talks to friends back in Moscow now, they say her Russian accent has changed. They say the same thing about her mother's accent, but I honestly cannot hear it in either case.
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Old 09-08-2019, 10:08 PM
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We're friends with a British couple whose kids have lived in the Midwestern U.S. all their lives - now ages 10 and 8, I think. Both kids still have strong (and adorable) British accents just from exposure to their parents.
In Moscow, I was friendly with a British gentleman and his Russian wife. They had a son the same age as my daughter, but he spoke virtually no English. The reason being, his mother would translate everything into Russian for him. He had absolutely no incentive to learn English. Both Derrick and I told her he would never learn English if she kept on translating, but it did no good.

The last time I talked to Derrick was in 2010, after they had moved to Cyprus and were living by a British air base. From what I gathered, the boy had picked up English very quickly from socializing with the UK service personnel.
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