Thursday, June 22, 2006



Last night I watched Wimbledon on cable. Not the real tennis tournament, but the movie with Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst. It was a great demonstration of how, with the right script or director, a really good actor can come across as a really weak actor.

But that's not my point. My point is this. In his London hotel room, Bettany's character keeps playing his voice mail, and the computer-generated voicemail voice telling him the number of his messages had -- wait for it -- an English accent!

I was fascinated by this. An automated voicemail voice with an English accent. When you think about it, of course, it makes sense. I bet the automated wake-up call voice also had an English accent.

Do you think voice mail automated voices in Canada have a Canadian accent? E.g., "You have aboat half a dozen messages." And do the ones in Germany have a German accent? They probably do. ("You haff ten message-iss.")

I don't recall Professor Stephen Hawking's computer generated voice having an English accent. I'll have to watch A Brief History of Time again. I guess we've come a long way.

The voicemail voices are not totally synthetic, though I have noticed a marked improvement in the quality of the synthesized voice for the emergency weather alerts.

What's really curious is that the voice of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport is British with the sort of accent Mike Myers exaggerated for the "Simon" sketches on SNL.

I suppose that has something to do with clarity of elocution, business travelers' fantasies of sumbission to Miss Moneypenny inducing them to exercise caution when reaching the end of the moving walkway, or something of the sort. Though if it's the first, we had an amusing language barrier episode in which a visit to had John asking, "What's a ['bird' said with British accent]."
Who's Miss Moneypenny?
Are you kidding me?
No, Tom, I'm afraid when "To Russia With Love" came on at the drive-in (after "Help" by the Beatles), young Oscar was fast asleep in the back of the parental station wagon. And I doubt that he carried the same torch for Sean Connery as did I.


mvktrnhm - "Move the crate right, um, here!"
Ricky Gervais made refrence to that: "Steven Hawking isn't brilliant, he's pretentious. Born in Kent and talks with an American accent!"

nbrhajvb: "I just bit my lip!"
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