This post isn’t at all about Death Cab for Cutie’s album Transatlanticism, though I do enjoy most, if not all, of Ben Gibbard’s output. Especially Such Great Heights which is a gift that keeps on giving and a digression. 😉

No the real impetus for all this blogging nonsense is Amy Walker and her 21 Accents.

That 21st accent is the one that really interests me. It’s called the Transatlantic accent.

  1. I’ve never heard it “in the wild”
  2. Working partly for TCM now, I swear I’ve heard it in a film or two

I found some interesting information on a forum and at Everything2, but nothing really concrete.

Any word smiths, accent experts or generally knowledgeable folk want to weigh in? My ears await the mellifluent and dulcet tones of your explanation of this derivation of the American accent.

5 thoughts on “Transatlanticism

  1. Do you wish, as much as I, that Ben and crew would release a follow up record to the amazing Give Up? I love Death Cab as much as the next, but Postal Service are also very high on my list.

    I am very excited about the new Death Cab album, however. I guess that is good enough.

  2. If I had to guess, I’d say that Transatlantic is the accent encouraged in charm schools in the ’40s and ’50s, and possibly on into the ’60s outside the U.S.

    For what it’s worth, I found a feature on Maggie Cheung (Irma Vep) with this awesome description:

    “As she chats volubly, working her way through a packet of Dunhills, there are distinct remnants of a Beckenham twang in an accent that combines Chinese English and showbiz transatlantic, tinged with the odd Valley Girl inflexion.”

    Not only do we get “showbiz transatlantic,” but also Dunhills, Valley Girl and the British spelling of “inflection.” Awesome.

  3. I’ve heard this term before, but in two different contexts, I think. First, as a cultural, rather than regional accent, covering the Ivy League/Oxford types who have the money to hop across the pond—transatlantic in the sense of people who casually make it from New England to old. Maybe something built out of the Edwardian age, and the thing that Thurston Howell is a caricature of.

    The other one, which I personally think is true in practice but not in origin, is that it was created for cinema to be more widely, globally appealing. I think it may have been used because it keeps actors from being “from” anywhere too much, and so makes them equidistant from Anywhere, USA, but that could be bull. Might just have been a mid-century cinema fad. I don’t rightly know.

    You should pitch the question to the blokes at Language Log: — great site.

  4. I’ve actually thrown out a query to some of the more knowledgeable folks @ TCM. I think it’d make for a great little content piece on but what do I know?

Leave a Reply