405. British Accents in The Lord of the Rings (Part 2)

In this episode we continue to analyse the various British accents that you can hear in the film version of The Lord of the Rings. Let’s consider the accents of some of the main characters, such as Frodo, Sam, Pippin, Merry, Treebeard, Elrond, Boromir, Gandalf, Saruman, Legolas, Gimli and the orcs.

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Frodo and Sam at the river (Frodo: English RP, Sam: English West Country)

Merry, Pippin & Treebeard (Merry: mild Manchester – Stockport, Pippin: Glasgow Scottish, Treebeard: old fashioned Scottish? RP with traces of Tolkien’s made-up elvish accent?)

Boromir at the Council of Elrond (Elrond: Heightened RP, Boromir: RP with traces of Yorkshire)

Sean Bean interview with Larry King (Sean Bean: Sheffield in Yorkshire, England / Larry King: Brooklyn NYC)

Gandalf and Saruman (Heightened RP / trained thespian actors at their best!)

Gimli & Legolas (Legolas: Heightened RP, Gimli: Welsh, which sounds Scottish at times)

Orcs (Cockney! Oi Oi!)


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  • Marie

    Hi, Luke ! Hope you’re well! As you can see I’m very very late in my LEP listening program (shame on me). This is so helpful to get a new vision of the film thanks to the accents you make clear. It would be awesome if you could create an other episode (or just a little part of it) about the different accents in Downton Abbey. I have great difficulties to understand Thomas, the first footman. But I perfectly understand the Earl and her ladyship. Anyway, many thanks for everything and keep care of yourself. Bye!

  • Julia YULIA

    Has anyone watched Vikings tv show? I believe they created old nordic accent for the show
    Also Orange is a new black has many accents.
    This is England (movie and tv show) has strong regional accents, personally I cant watch without subtitles

  • Thies Lachête

    Hi Luke! I just wanted to say that I love the idea of “Posh or not” :-)
    (…and that you definitely have to mention Jack Whitehall when speaking of a posh accent :-D)

  • Catherine Bear

    The technology has become so sophisticated these days. Here an example of using technology in creating Gollum. Enjoy. :)

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_Z7YUyCEGE

    • Nick

      Cat, I have a question for you ;) What you can say about Der Freitag newspaper? Does it popular in Germany?

      • Catherine Bear

        Hi Nick. I’ve never read this newspaper, but they say it is a left wing one. The Wikipedia says they have a collaboration with The Guardian:
        de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Freitag
        Take care,
        Cat

      • Nick

        Hi Cat, thanks for your answer :)

  • Nick

    After the inauguration Trump will be like Sauron because he will be able to watch all skype conversations :))

  • Catherine Bear

    uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bf8828a671b7733f5c4a34745dcf715d7c2bac820bfb4f7749ca8322871144fa.png

    Here a nice map from Wikipedia “The main Anglo-Saxon kingdoms” (in the early Middle Ages): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heptarchy

    Essex = Kingdom of the East Saxons
    Wessex = Kindgdom of the West Saxons
    Sussex = Kindgom of the South Saxons

    Modern dialects can be traced back to those different tribes and kingdoms of the old times. I would love to know more about history, it is so amazing, how people at all times moved and migrated from one place to another. :)

  • Nick

    Ok, I made a foolish conclusion that Americans maybe came from the West Country :)) I mean their ancestors.

    • The ‘Pilgrim Fathers’ who were some of the first Europeans to colonise the USA came from Plymouth in the South West of England. Also, Irish people pronounce /r/ sounds a bit like the Americans do today, and millions of Irish people moved to the USA during the potato famine.
      So, that might have something to do with it.

      • Nick

        Oh, I didn’t know that…it explains the similarity in accents then.
        By the way I heard the theory that American’s accent is more look like English accent in the time of Shakespeare then English accent now. Is it true or not?

      • Nick

        Or maybe not accent but way of speaking.

      • Nick

        Or that Americans saved something in English from the time of Shakespeare and English people changed it… I don’t remember what exactly :)

      • Yes I heard that too.

  • Sasha from Moscow

    In Russia there’re some people who are called the Tolkienists. A fan club. They imagine themselves being some of Tolkien’s characters. Regular schizophrenia, as we call it. They even organise battles.

    I’m not among them. Although, the parallel between accents and the meaning they convey in the real world I found fascinating. I listened 2 podcasts in one day. So I guess I enjoyed them very much.

    There’re many different accents in Russia too. I was born in Moscow and I have a pretty strong Moscow accent. A kind of RP+posh, in English terms. I wonder how I can get a posh accent. Would you mind telling me, Luck?:)

    Btw, there’s a rolling R in the Russian language too. It’s a letter P in our alphabet.

    • Catherine Bear

      But each regional accent of Russian can be easily understood by each Russian speaking person. This is the difference.

      English (and German as well) has sooo many different dialects, they can have difficulties in understanding each other. I think it goes back to different tribes with quite different own dialects.

      Whereas Russian is a guite homogenous language (linguistically seen). There are differences in the length of the vowels, in the intonation and melody, but these don’t challenge the general intelligibilty of the language as such. Of course, there is a lot of diversity in Russia too, with different ethnic groups and languages.

      • Sasha from Moscow

        Yeah, in England they like,
        “What did he say?”
        “I have no idea. I didn’t understand a word. But he certainly was speaking English”

      • Catherine Bear

        I think, also the Soviet ideology had some influence upon the eliminating of the regional differences in the language. “The Great Mighty Russian Language” has been forced upon all, especially for those who wanted to be successful in their careers.

      • Sasha from Moscow

        A clever comment.
        Come to visit me in Moscow. We’ll think it over.

      • Catherine Bear

        Pardon me?

        “If we are to be successful, this will need to be handled with tact. And respect. And no small degree of charm.” (GTG)

      • Sasha from Moscow

        Even cleverer! Well done! (TFGHYJ)

      • Nick

        Yes, I agree with you, Cat ;)

  • Catherine Bear

    Sean Bean didn’t die in Anna Karenina and in The Martian. There he was a good guy, so he deserved to live. :)

    • Sasha from Moscow

      It could make the plot much lovely, btw. Whom does he play? Evgenii Onegin?

      • Catherine Bear

        Nope. Eugene Onegin — as you may know — was played by Lord Voldemort himself and Tatyana was played by the beautiful Lady Arwen. ;) And that unfortunate Lenskiy with naive eyes was played by the son of Professor MacGonagall. :) Paul Taylor would have been a good candidate for this role. Imagine, Luke as Onegin, Paul as Lenskiy, and Amber as Tatyana. Then Luke would kill Paul, horrible! :)

        If Onegin had been a time traveller, then he probably would have had appeared in Anna Karenina or even in the Martian. :) But there was no such thing, unfortunately. It would have been fun.

        ps: sorry for any grammar errors here; I’ve just picked them up from my gut, maybe quite randomly. :)

      • Sasha from Moscow

        I see you well informed. Your time says you’re in Russia, aren’t you?

      • Catherine Bear

        No, I’m not. The time was lying. :)

  • Catherine Bear

    Thank you soo much, Luke! I enjoyed the both episodes very much. They ended so quickly, I would have listened to it for ages. Because I love this trilogy and the movies sooo much. Thank you for sharpening our ears! :)