Thursday, 24 January 2013

RHOBH - BrE outpost in Beverly Hills

"Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" (RHOBH) is on ITV2 at the moment, every afternoon at tea-time (ten past four). Some people have called it "a horror film" but I enjoy it - and not just because my niece, Lisa, is in it.

One aspect of interest is how Lisa (mostly) maintains her BrE and English accent - NB I prefer "English accent" to "British" as the latter could be Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish etc - discuss? Ok, I  know the same reservations could be made about "English": do you mean RP, London, Estuary, Yorkshire, Cornish etc? But you know what I mean, or not...

One move towards an American accent is noticeable with "ass", as in "kick some" and other phrases. I queried whether she was discussing striking somebody's donkey or mule but, no. Lisa uses both "long and short a" pronunciations. I think she usually uses the short one "in quotes", though. I'll be listening out for other short a's creeping in but I think her BrE is part of her appeal and she will try to maintain it. The other housewives comment on her BrE from time to time, with an interesting mix of sarcasm and appreciation. One of them says she feels rather talked down to: an English or British accent is thought to have "class" but can still raise hackles. Husband Ken and friend Martin don't appear to be changing much and former house-guest Cedric has an interesting blended accent.

Another point of interest is that most of the housewives go for "I" rather than "me" much of the time, even after prepositions eg "between you and I". So do UK sports commentatators and perhaps most native speakers (statistics please?). In commentaries this trend extends beyond we/us ("to we viewers") to he/him eg "between he and Smith". Is there some sort of stigma attached to the object cases? Lisa's clever joke comes to mind here: "He calls me his sex object, but I object." The housewives have further extensions, getting  "I" into some new positions eg "A friend of Kim and I's".

Further research is necessary - yes, please, just a little cream on my scone, thanks Clydesale.

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