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Pay Attention Y'all! How to Talk Like an American

Pay Attention Y'all! How to Talk Like an American

Whether it's volume, content, or exaggerated vowels, you just have to overhear an American tourist while overseas to notice that Americans have a distinct way of speaking. But many Brits (mistakenly) think watching American film and television makes them trained in an American accent.

One English reporter, determined to be better than a Hollywood wannabe, decided to get top professional training from accent-coach-to-the-stars Barbara Berkeley. Berkeley, who has trained the likes of Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow, offered these simple technical steps for learning to speak like an American: Widen your mouth like you would making the "ee" sound in "weed." Smile, to place the voice towards your nasal resonator. Position your tongue further up in the mouth, rather than against the ridge behind the top teeth. And finally, let yourself go!

If you learn better by example, I've rounded up some clips of foreign actors speaking "American." Tell me, out of Hugh Laurie, Nichole Kidman, Ralph Fiennes, and Cate Blanchett, who does the best American accent? And what characteristic makes a speaker sound quintessentially American, anyway? You know?

Join The Conversation
Pallas-Athena Pallas-Athena 9 years
James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Christian Bale.
emmebeth emmebeth 9 years
Hugh Laurie has the best American accent (though you can hear him falter if he's yelling). Nicole Kidman's is pretty bad.
nferrant nferrant 9 years
i agree with hugh too.. but as an fyi its nicole not nichole kidman
saucymegstar saucymegstar 9 years
I do think that most "British accents" for mass-produced film are sanitized though. Think Orlando Bloom in Pirates of the Carribean or Anthony Head as Giles on Buffy. Very plain Brittish accents, not very true to form likely to help the poor folks who cannot bear to decipher any dialect too far from their own. That is one thing that makes Hugh Laurie's American accent good- it isn't too sanitized so it sounds like a real person speaking. And I just love House. :)
saucymegstar saucymegstar 9 years
Hugh Laurie, hands down. A lot of faux 'American accents' sound slightly metallic to my ear but his is flawless.
zeze zeze 9 years
Back off Hypno! I saw him first! I can not wait until "The Duchess" ...him as a Duke! Have you seen Wuthering Heights (one of his oldest I think) he was yummy in that one!
stephley stephley 9 years
James McAvoy and Christian Bale do fine American accents, but I can't understand why anyone would want them to cover their lovely accents!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Ralph Fiennes can teach me any English he wants, any time, any day, any where.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
Natalie Portman has a very strange trans-Atlantic faux-British accent in the Star Wars movie(s) ...
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
what about American actors trying to sound British and ending up sounding farcical like gwyneth and madonna, or how about brad pitts terrible irish one? who else?
True-Song True-Song 9 years
Chicacity-did you see her on Punk'd? That's the only place I've seen her accent in full force.
Auntie-Coosa Auntie-Coosa 9 years
NONE of them, although, Hugh Laurie was better than the others. You can hear the lilt in their voices which gives all the others away.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I saw Hugh Laurie give a speech when he won an award for his work on House. He was almost as funny giving the speech as he isin the show. I was also shocked to hear his accent.
zeze zeze 9 years
Ralph Fiennes is dreamy in his English accent, I don't know why, I never think of him when people talk about attractive Hollywood actors, but in every movie I watch i fall in love with him! BTW, anyone hear Christian Bale got arrested for assaulting his sister and mom (allegedly).
Kerri1 Kerri1 9 years
Have you heard Kiera Knightley in The Jacket? She did the best Brit to American accent I have ever heard. And I'm not a big fan of hers, but she totally impressed me!
ChicaCity ChicaCity 9 years
Hugh Laurie, for sure! torgelson - you're right about Ellen, I couldn't believe it when I heard her real accent!
kittyhill kittyhill 9 years
Hugh Laurie or Nicole Kidman... I can't decide.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Newsies is so great. That is when my love affair with Christian began.
alethia037 alethia037 9 years
In this group - Hugh Laurie, but I also think that Christian Bale does an amazing American accent. Besides all the American movies he has out now - has anyone heard the accent he had in Newsies? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_59pP_Xcw0g
Fo-show317771 Fo-show317771 9 years
Old english sounds really old to me, it's good on screen, but I think american english is much cooler!
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
Hugh Laurie. I'm American and my boyfriend is British (English) and every time he tries to mimic my accent or make fun of something I've just said, he just sounds ridiculous and for some reason always resorts to a very exaggerated Southern drawl even though I'm from the West Coast. We've been together for a few years and I think when we're together and not around other people, our accents take on characteristics of each other's because it's hard not to.
KathleenxCouture KathleenxCouture 9 years
actually Christian Bale has a British accent! He does a great job with an american one in his movies though
hmcmcd hmcmcd 9 years
yup, it's Hugh. I agree with everybody else, I had no idea that he was not American, until this very clip! Ralph sounds like he has a little boston accent when he speaks american.
Kate-Marie Kate-Marie 9 years
Hugh Laurie sounds so natural speaking in an American accent. I too was surprised the first time I saw him interviewed. I totally didn't realize he was English.
ilikeatea ilikeatea 9 years
Hugh hands down...didn't even know he was British...mmmhe is so much more yumy with an accent.
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