Sunday, 10 March 2013


Charlie McDonnell's accent is changing.  This is a positive thing.

Click to tweet: .

I think Charlie's accent now sounds slightly American.  I can think of lots of possible explanations for this, such as hanging out a lot with Bryarly Bishop or spending a lot of time in America, perhaps with the Vlogbrothers, but it's always possible to resist these accent changes, so that's not a real explanation.

I have listened carefully to the voices in 'My American Accent', 'Charlie Changes', 'I'm Excited', to the Liliesarelike video 'Cherry Clafoutis With Cherry' and Bryarly Bishop's video 'BBB Saturday Update'.  Each of them are interesting from the viewpoint of accents.

Firstly, 'Charlie Changes' is the earliest video available on his channel, and is to some extent the real prequel to 'I'm Excited' because it was just after he deleted a load of videos due to lack of confidence.  In this video, he is partly putting on a weak American accent because he is imitating a movie trailer voiceover, which we are used to being Hollywood.  Later on in the video, he lapses into his usual accent, which is near the Queen's English and sounds like the kind of accent I grew up hearing.  However, he does use the "ae" sound in "laugh", something he does elsewhere.  In a way, all this is surprising because he uses a non-rhotic accent in spite of growing up in Bath, which is a rhotic area - post-vocalic R's are the norm there.

Secondly, 'My American Accent' imitates an American accent which, as others have said such as the Vlogbrothers, is for some reason Southern-sounding rather than General American, which is close to the accent someone from Illinois might have.  I don't know why this is, but it's very unlike what's happening to it now.

Thirdly, Liliesarelike is very probably the person from whom Charlie learnt primarily to speak.  Her accent is similar to his in 'Charlie Changes', although her "ah" sound is more typical and she occasionally uses glottal stops for T's.  It's non-rhotic, but whereas she enunciates very clearly, she occasionally shifts away from the Queen's English towards something else which is hard to identify but may be a weak East Anglian accent (i may be wrong but i'm guessing she's from Norfolk).  However, she never voices her T's.

Finally, Bryarly Bishop's accent sounds General American, and is of interest because she may be a strong subconscious influence on Charlie's own accent.  She tends to "un-round" her short O's and voices her T's so that they sound like D's or tapped R's, at the ends of words before vowels as well as between vowels within words.  Interestingly, when Charlie does this in 'My American Accent', he hypercorrects - overshoots the mark - and says "podado" instead of "potado".  I don't think he'd do this any more.

Incidentally, the General American accent can be heard quite clearly in Craig Benzine's video, although he's from Wisconsin.

All of this may sound rather obsessive and anal, but i'm making a real point here, which is that i'm sure all of this is subconscious and what it reflects is that, as he himself says, Charlie McDonnell is leaving behind his childhood and becoming a man, which is reflected in his accent, which is now more "global" and represents opening out into the wider world.  So it's all very good.

It is almost impossible for me to make any kind of video about Charlie McDonnell without feeling intensely self-conscious and worried about putting a foot out of place somehow, making it inappropriate.  Speaking of which - no, not going there actually.

However, it is in fact the case that i find accents and dialects fascinating, and i can't listen to 'I'm Excited' without noticing that his accent has drifted somewhat towards General American, and that interests me.

Skipped a day, so here's another one, again rather fixated on the guy from Bath:

Click to tweet: .  I'm old.  I often feel that when i go on YouTube, everyone's really young and it makes me feel ancient.  This is not about ageism and a lot of it is just in my own mind.

Most of the popular YouTuber vloggers seem to be in their late teens and early twenties.  It wasn't always like this - for instance, Geriatric1927 is a bit older than that - but i still feel a lot older.  This makes me less keen on doing things like going to YouTube gatherings because i feel old enough to be the father of many of the people involved.  I think this is due to two things:  generational divisions, which we have less than most people due to the fact we home educated and sort of live in the same world as our children; and the fact that we have never really been able to integrate ourselves into mainstream adult life and are time rich and money poor.  As a result, and also because this is partly a reaction to the empty nest syndrome we have now Holly and Daniel are both at college, i am now vlogging every day, but other people who are busier and more part of the current mainstream have other things to do with their time.  This also means, however, that i am isolated, because my demographic is middle aged and they behave differently than younger people.  At least i think that's what it's about.

There's also a callout to Holly Holdsworth at the end, because she's good and needs more subscribers.

Yes, crawly bumlick again.  It does bother me though.  To what extent is it in my head though?  I also think i'm making too many self-absorbed videos and need to get out of that.  Tomorrow's will be on different types of atomic bonds, so that's something.