But, but - Midatlantic is UK DJs trying to sound American! People used to fuss about it a lot, stopped now. Other things to worry about. PS Nobody has called anybody “old chep” for years, if they ever did! Brits trying to caricature the speech of the upper classes get it wrong just as often. Little-known fact: British romantic novelist Elinor Glyn had a later career as an elocution coach in Hollywood.
As well as the sounds there’s also the look of news delivery, especially amongst women presenters.
If you catch the news with the sound off or drowned out, the strange head bobbing and lack of emotion on a presenters face suddenly seems quite odd.
I thought it was considered good practice in this forum to post a link.
Shouldn’t Xerox have been capitalized in Cecil’s article?
I’m sure it’s your left wing proclivities that cause you to mock William F Buckley, Jr., one of the last of America’s true intellectual giants. But it might interest you to know where that accent came from. Mr Buckley’s father was an oilman who worked in Mexico, when all the little Buckley’s were in need of an education. Unable to find an American school where there were English speaking teachers, he sent all the children - including William - to a British school. And now you know … the rest of the story!
One reason for the particular sound of a newsreader’s voice is that they are generally doing what is called “cold reading,” meaning they haven’t read the copy in advance. Therefore, they don’t know where the sentence is going as they are speaking it. So they don’t dare commit to a particular inflection which could get them in trouble. So they maintain a sort of flat, non-committal tone throughout.
That’s why, whenever you see an actor portraying a TV reporter in a movie, they sound *wrong *somehow. They have practiced their line over and over, and lose that “cold” intonation. It’s also why, frequently, movies use *real *TV reporters to portray TV reporters; they know how to do it right!
Interesting column. This caught my eye:
“…part of what you’re hearing may be a xerox of a xerox of a xerox of, say, Edward Murrow…”
Xerox tends to look askance at use of its name as a synonym for “copy”: http://www.brandfreak.com/2010/03/xerox-gets-snippy-with-hollywood-over-generic-use-of-its-name.html
Xerox is a company and a brand name, and therefore a proper noun that should be capitalized. However, due to the ubiquity of Xerox brand copiers (especially in the early days of such technologies) the word “xerox” came to be a general term for a copy of a document, and you could use the word as a noun or verb to indicate a copy or the act of copying. In that usage it is no longer a proper noun.
Even the Oxford English Dictionary includes “xerox” as a generic word. I’ll say that when I was a kid (30-ish years ago?) it was more common to hear the word used that way. These days it’s less common and younger people may be completely unfamiliar with that usage. I’m not sure if it’s because Xerox no longer dominates the photocopier market, or due to efforts on Xerox’s part to discourage people from using it as a generic term, or a combination of the two.
Other brand names that have become generic terms or are in danger of it: Ping-Pong, Frisbee, Kleenex, Band-Aid. The latest Band-Aid commercials I’ve heard on TV use the phrase “Band-Aid brand” in its marketing jingle. Even aspirin used to be a brand name (a product of the Bayer company) but lost its trademark back in 1918.
I may be wrong but I believe the original question related to the fact that commercial TV/radio news readers, weather persons, and sports reporters, etc tend to speak in a voice that that is deliberately several notches higher in volume compared to a natural speaking voice. I don’t believe the issue related to any contrived Mid-Atlantic accent which frankly I don’t even believe exists, or if it does it had nothing to do with the way William F. Buckley spoke. The schools that train individuals who wish to become broadcasters on commercial media teach them to project with exaggerated volume in order to command attention, something sponsors who pay the freight especially like.
Want to hear the difference? Just tune in to programming on NPR or Public TV. There everyone speaks at a natural conversational volume, and the result is in no way less clear or less enunciated or less commanding than the screamers on commercial media. In fact I would argue that the exact reverse is true.
And don’t even get me started on the guys who do ads for monster truck rallies…
I’m hoping that you’ll at least tell us by Sunday SUNDAY SUNDAY!!!
Cecil’s answer is informative enough, and I wouldn’t dream of questioning its accuracy.
But I wish he’d descended to some passing snark by addressing a certain subset of newsreaders, and pointed out that the PBS/NPR newsreaders have always used an ersatz, affected mid-Atlantic tone and inflection-- essentially aping the BBC crowd’s pseudo-gravitas to convince their target demographic (affluent intelligentsia) that they have that alluring “touch of class”.
I applaud Slug’s use of “chili today, hot tamale”. I haven’t heard or seen that line in a long time. Maybe it’s just something my Dad said a lot, but I giggled at it like I was in grade school again.
I’ve always called it California English … but Nebraska !!! Sheesh, it’s one of those obvious answers that peoples are oblivious to. Thank you Oh Master, ignorance fought this day, it’s Nebraska English then !!!
Never been there, sure hope you’re right.
Hmmm… I’ll have to google that.
Of course, unlike Xerox, Google in fact wanted its name to become genericized from the start.
California English is noted for the sound in “coffee,” for example, being pronounced as “cahfee,” as opposed to (say) New York’s “cwafee.” The General American of Nebraska and elsewhere has definitely been influenced by this Californian style, especially in the past 20 years.