British accent

Frances   Mon Aug 13, 2007 1:10 am GMT
Could you please tell me the specific type of British accent spoken by Colin Firth? It is quite lovely.
Damian in London E14   Tue Aug 14, 2007 7:14 am GMT
Colin Firth:

Basically, his accent is South East England style standard Southern England RP English English.

He was born in Hampshire, close to Haselmere which is just over the border in Surrey, an area which no doubt gave him his accent.

He travelled around with his parents a fair bit as lad (his mother was brought up in America) - he became a temporary Essex lad, but also lived abroad at times, including the USA. As a young lad he was not at all happy there and (in his words) he always felt as if he had stepped out of a Richmal Crompton "Just William" story while he was over there - a sole English kid among all of his American peers who, kids being what they are, either mocked his accent or wondered what the hell he was talking about.

So he returned to England and joined the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain to fulfil his desire to become an actor. The rest is history - and he now conjures up images of a sexily dripping Darcy emerging from a lake in Pride and Prejudice or the cheated on writer Jamie in Love Actually, who eventually finds love actually with a lassie from Portugal and manages to massacre the Portuguese language at the same time in his best English English RP.
Guest   Tue Aug 14, 2007 7:44 am GMT
<He was born in Hampshire, close to Haselmere which is just over the border in Surrey, an area which no doubt gave him his accent. >

Or he got it at The Drama Centre, London.
Frances   Wed Aug 15, 2007 12:06 am GMT
Thanks for my answering my question re. Mr. Colin Firth's accent.
Recently I was in London for the first time (a dream come true) and had a most unsettling experience. The young man at the desk at a very nice hotel not too far from Harrod's had an accent which was hardly understandable. Being from the southeastern US, I recognized my own accent made it impossible for him to understand a word I was saying! What a quandry! And we're both supposed to be speaking English! I have not had this problem in Russia, Austria, Czech Rep or Norway! I did not have this communication problem in the places we visited in London (British Library, British Museum, War Museum, etc). Maybe I need some lessons at the Drama Centre!
K. T.   Wed Aug 15, 2007 12:54 am GMT
That is certainly a strange tale, but I can believe it.
Damian in London SW15   Wed Aug 15, 2007 11:07 pm GMT

Hope your unsettling experience in London didn't ruin your stay here, and that you still love this city as much as I do. Believe me I have problems sometimes with accents in this incredibly multi cultural and diverse city, and I'm only 400 miles away from home. Edinburgh is twice as far from London than Paris is even though it's in the same country technically - same, but different, if you know what I mean.

Hotels in London - if you can find a native born British person working in the vast majority of London hotels then you're lucky - if that was what you were hoping for. Even if you had found such a person you may still have had problems with the accent as s/he may well have come from a part of the UK with strong regional accents, of which we have loads.

Your guy in the hotel may well have been totally baffled by your version of the American accent, and he could have come from any part of the world. By all accounts many Brits over in America seem to have a lot of trouble getting understood, even when saying something quite basic. A Brit asking for something as simple as a "glass of water" in a restaurant can meet with blank looks over there, apparently! Maybe going local is the answer and start asking for "a gless o'waddurr" or something. :-)
Travis   Wed Aug 15, 2007 11:35 pm GMT
I once had a similar experience, but right here in the US. I was in the San Francisco International Airport, having just gotten there for a job interview the next day. Being hungry after getting off the plane, I went to a sub place (I think it was Quizno's) to get something to eat. When I got to the counter to order a sub, it turned out that the person behind it could only barely understand my English and I likewise could largely not understand theirs. Near the end of whole exchange, the person asked me where the hell I was from (or at least that is what I gather they meant, as I was having a lot of trouble understanding them) and indicated that they could not place my accent at all.

However, in this case the individual was clearly either a non-native English-speaker or at least a native speaker of a dialect with very significant influence from Spanish. The thing that sticks out in my mind about this, though, is that right after me there was another individual who was clearly a native speaker of North American English, and they and the person behind the counter understood each other perfectly. My guess is that the person behind the counter was completely unfamiliar with some of the more extreme forms of the dialects in the Upper Midwest, while the person behind me was likely far more familiar with English with significant Spanish influence than myself