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Thread: Roll Your R's.

  1. #1
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Roll Your R's.

    Roll Your R’s.



    A glass of wine, a chapter of Thomas Caryle’s “The French Revolution,” black leather recliner, and tracksuit hooded apparel.

    Combined, it resulted in a most pleasant siesta.

    When I awoke refreshed, it was still damp, cold and inhospitable outside, whilst even the birds had declined the scattered seed from the morning.

    The Covid lockdown and lack of proper social intercourse for over one year plays funny tricks on the imagination. For some utterly unfathomable reason I wondered if I had lost my accent.

    I had of course been born with an accent. North London to be precise; in Fulham when it was working class and not, as now, referred to as “Little Chelsea.” Gentrification I believe is the proper term for what it had become now.

    No, I spoke North London. My friends did, those at school did and of course my family.

    But as I commenced those different stages in life: university, working initially on construction sites in the UK; then extensively overseas, the accent changed.

    I was not even aware of it at the time.

    “Are you American?” someone would ask. “No” I would reply and then wonder why they had asked in the first place. Was it that I had worked overseas on petrochemical projects, where the Clients representatives, like Mobil, always seemed to originate from Houston?

    I just supposed my ear became attuned to it and I adopted their linguistic cloak. It did not help later on living and working for extended periods in; the Middle East, Africa & the Far East. I was becoming a polyglot of accents. I drawled when I was around Australians and clipped my words when with South Africans.

    On a more demonstrable note, I became able to communicate like an Italian with my hands, effect a very passable French shoulder shrug and look of arrogant distain, talk slowly and melodiously like an African, or draw into myself Budda like as the occasion required.

    But despite this versatility, (not I might add originally sought), it came as a shock when I had difficulty attaining a Russian accent, upon joining the ranks of the acting profession.

    I was, as explained in an alternate thread, offered the part of a Russian oligarch in a film.

    Easy I thought. Piece of cake.

    Just study the Russian character a bit I told myself.

    But that’s where the difficulty began.

    The stereotype, (appearance-wise) is of burly men in double breasted dated suits; surly, serious and menacing. In fact, Russians can be the scariest white men on the planet.

    But whereas the likes of Brezhnev, and Andropov seemed devoid of any apparent emotion; Stalin, or “Uncle Joe” as he was referred to, invariably smiled beneath a big bushy moustache. Perhaps he was the only one allowed to see the joke?

    Khrushchev had been; animated, energetic and seemed to swung effortlessly between opening car factories in the Ukraine, to banging his shoe on the table at the UN. Mind you, Stalingrad front line involvement could have given him more than post-traumatic stress symptoms! Then there was Yeltsin who was hard to categorize; either drunk out of his mind, or pinching lady's bottoms.

    To achieve the right accent, I decided to employ a voice coach; well in fact a number of them to be precise. The difficulty became apparent when I tried to isolate the sounds used in every day speech.

    To a Russian, “Th” and “W” is unpronounceable. “This” becomes “Zis.” “Wonderful” becomes “Vunderful.”

    Indefinite articles to those used to the habit of usage are omitted. “I'm going to store.”

    “W,s” become “V,s” “Vot is vrong vit the Rrrrussian veather?”

    “V’s” become “W”, as in “Wodka.”

    And then there is the signature drawn out rolling of the “R,s”.

    “T” becomes “Z”. “Zis, Zat, Zerefore.”

    Zer was even one highly strung individual tutor who insisted that I needed a more flexible face, and recommended that I slowly enunciate every sound and syllable to attain an air of menace and authority.

    “In - terr- esss-ting!!” I dutifully practiced, monotone like in front of the mirror; whilst screwing up my eyes in an apparent painful recollection of having extracting a confession against the Motherland.

    Yet, the most dramatic gymnastics transpired in trying to master the “H” sound. It's almost as if you are hawking vigorously in the throat in preparation to spit, combined with an impression of choaking.

    “Keoroww you doing?” being a typical greeting for “How you doing?”.

    Finally, there was the “L” sound, where one is obliged to place the tongue at top of the mouth, as in the word “Pearl,” but further back in the throat to get it correct.

    Which might explain how preparing prior to any scene shooting, I invariably got strange looks as I wandered around the set, mumbling incoherently to myself “I llove lubbly llemons.”

  2. #2
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Enjoyed zat!
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  3. #3
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    In-terrr-esss-ting!!!!!

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