"New sun, new air, new sky. A whole universe teeming with life. Why stand still when there's all that life out there?" -The Doctor
"Asking a linguist how many languages they speak is like asking a doctor how many diseases they have." -Unknown

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nan's Christmas Carol

The dynamic duo from season (sorry, "series") four strike again: David Tennant and Catherine Tate. Last seen as English teacher and obnoxious student on the Children in Need special a bit ago, Tate now plays a nasty, crotchety, foul-mouthed grandmother named Joany (or "Nan") who, having thrown out the family who came to visit her at Christmas, is subjected to the same trials that Scrooge went through, only...modernized and wonky. The full show can be found, beginning with part one, here, but the part embedded below begins with the dramatic entrance of the Ghost of Christmas Present:

The most interesting part for me about this sequence--apart from Tate in old-person makeup in a snark war with an effeminate, bewigged, and heavily eyelinered Ten--is, of course, Ten's accent. Tate identifies him within one sentence as a Scot, but compared to the accent he uses to read the children's stories, his accent sounds overwrought and painfully exaggerated. As much as I'd like to be, I'm no expert in British dialects, so the change puzzles me--at times during the clip, his accent is almost unintelligible. What kind of inflection is he using? Is he making his Scottish dialect even more "Scottish"--like a Estuary-speaking Brit affecting RP, or a West Coast American emphasizing the American-ness of their pronunciation--or is he adding in another element? I really can't tell; my ear isn't experienced or attuned enough. The auditory gymnastics necessary to understand him are more than enough to deal with without analysis being attempted as well.

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