accent of frasier

What is Kelsey Grammer’s accent on Frasier? Also David Hyde Pierce’s? And if I can go a little farther, what is Don Music’s accent on Sesame Street (it reminds me of the Crane brothers)?

I call it the “Snotty American” accent. It is the same as the accent used by actresses in old movies from the 1930s.

How about “Long Island lockjaw” or “Main Line malocclusion?”

(Thanks, Eve.):smiley:

It is, basically, just an over-pronounced, over-correct style of speech that Grammer uses to characterize Frasier as uptight and severely educated.

This is what my dialect coach from years ago would call the “correct” use of dialect, which is to say, not to be regionally or ethnically correct, but to inform the audience about the things inherent in the character you can’t get across any other way, like when Clarice’s West Virginia (?) accent peeks through occasionally in Silence of the Lambs.

I believe that’d be a Boston Brahmin accent. Sort of.

I think it is along the same lines as Charles Emerson Winchester (from MASH) or Thurston Howell III (from Gilligan’s Island). It is an affectation that television actors use to indicate the “upper crust”, a sort of linguistic shortcut that everybody recognizes, and is an unfortunate substitute for character development. I don’t think it even occurs in real life .

Regional accents – one of my favorite topics.

I’ve heard the accent referred to as “Connecticut Lockjaw,” “Long Island Lockjaw,” “Harvard Lockjaw,” “Main Line Lockjaw” – essentially, “[insert Northeastern old money town or institution here] Lockjaw.” William F. Buckley is the only person I know about who speaks with a classic lockjaw accent in real life.

The other “clench your teeth” accent is encountered out West – I’ve heard called “Western Rugged,” “Rocky Mountain Rur’l,” “Colorado Old School,” “Horsey,” and “Cowboy” – there’s more pressure on the diaphragm, a general “gravelliness” about the voice, and very little enunciation.

i think i would call it pretensious enunciation.

i don’t mind, though. i have a cruch on kelsey grammer

Tom Wolf, when he was with Rolling Stone, popularized the phrase “Mid-Atlantic accent” (referring to half-way between the U.K. and the U.S.), but I think it was used to identify the Brit-wanna-be Americans and Yank-wanna-be Brits before he came along. But it really captures the Frasier Cranes of this world, doesn’t it?


Good description, TV Time, that’s what it sounds like to me.

However: Yank-wanna-be-Brits? Do you have an example? (Hugh Grant in Mickey Blueeyes doesn’t count ;))
The reverse would go for Madonna, I suppose.

question: why isn’t there any resemblence, physical, accent, etc., between the Crane brothers and their father? One might think Frasier or Niles would sound remotely like Martin, either in tone or accent. And why would Father Crane allow his sons to be given names that sound so pretentious, anyway? Was that ever explained?

Of course - the original Mid-Atlantic Man himself, Cary Grant.

They turn after their mother. Simple as that.

Their mother named them after two lab rats.


Wolf uses as examples mid-to-upper level English executives of multinational corporations, but Alessan’s example is wonderful, and I suppose we can add people like Roddy McDowell and Stewart Granger. (Granger was English, wasn’t he?)


Alarmingly enough, I have known somebody who spoke with this accent in real life. Two people, actually: father and son, both Yank-wanna-be-Brits.

Shudder. Still brings back flashbacks.

Maybe he’s not really their father. Adultery happens.

This question belongs in another thread but I’ll ask it here instead of reviving the old threads I know would be more appropriate. It’s this: How long did it take Europeans who emigrated to America to develop the American accent as it is recognised today? I believe that it’s a mixture of Scottish, Irish and English dialects but does anyone know (within a century) when the development of those dialects into the American accent was complete?

William F. Buckley is a prime example of that accent… Snooty Brahmins from Boston, New York, Connecticut, and so forth often talk that way I suppose.
What I can’t figure out is why my current History professor has that accent, yet he was born in Hosuton and went to Baylor? Is it so much a dialect, or an elite affectation - sort of our version of “Oxbridge” or “Recieved Pronunciation”?

I heard this from a not-that-reputal source: I once heard that there was some sort of law or act placed in colonial times for Americans to drop the English accent in order to further try to break ties with England. But this could be BS.

But I did read in an American history text book about how Noah Webster tried to change the way Americans spelled words. To sort of trim the fat of words, for example he proposed that “head” should be spelled “hed”. This might have had something to do with breaking away from England too.

As far as Frasier’s accent goes: I once was watching an interview with Ozzy Ozborne and his kids. They live in California and Ozzy and his wife, Sharon, have raised their kids in the US since they were born. The kids (who, by the way seemed to have really polite and quiet personalities) had a strange accent that sounds something frasier’s and niles’s.

So, I wonder if Frasier might have had a British mother. Maybe having parents with two different accents would hyrbidize the accents of their children.