In Episode 275 (again from last year, November 7, 2016, to be exact–but still available for free) of Scriptnotes, “English Is Not Latin,” John August and Craig Mazin discuss the impact of films and television on the everyday language of our culture.
I’m commenting on this particular episode today, because I’ve been intrigued with the Mid-Atlantic Accent ever since I read James Fallow’s fascinating dissection of the accent in his June 7, 2015 article in The Atlantic, “That Weirdo Announcer-Voice Accent: Where It Came From and Why It Went Away.” At the time, I emailed James Fallow (who was very gracious with his time and attention, by the way) and I asked him about this clip from Conan O’Brian: Conan O’Brien ‘Plays Old fashioned Baseball ‘1864. Beginning at the 4:44 mark, Conan affects what appears to be close to a Mid-Atlantic Accent, but something (in addition to the fact that such an accent was not in use in 1864) is clearly off. There’s another regional vocal affectation called the Boston Brahmin (and Conan is after all from Boston) Accent, but we decided Conan isn’t using that in the clip either. Fallows and I left the conversation without a definitive answer.
I was hoping August and Mazin might touch on something in this episode to enlighten me further on this variation Conan is using. Although highly educational, and the discussion of Cary Grant and others is spot on, the segment did not sate my curiosity.
So, I pose this question to you, my loyal interweb followers: What accent is Conan using in the above clip, and do you have other examples of it? You can comment below, or join the conversation over on my facebook page.