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View Full Version : Different Accents: Because sometimes, your Dwarf doesn't want to be from Scotland



DaveSonOfDave
2015-11-30, 05:03 PM
There seems to be a tendency to assign default accents to races or classes that have stood the test of time. Elves tend to be high English, Dwarves tend to be Scottish, Orcs are a rough and gruff Cockney, etc. But sometimes, the classical ideas of what a race and class sound like just doesn't seem to fit the character that you want to build. Have you ever made a character that has had something of a different accent or speech pattern that just felt better for the character you wanted to play?

In the campaign I'm playing now, I decided to give my kenku rogue a slow, Southern State drawl, inspired in part by the TF2 Engineer (whom I derived a lot of inspiration from for the character), but also because my rogue is generally a little friendlier than most, and the drawl seemed a little more inviting than, say, a hoarse Cockney accent that a lower class criminal might have.

BWR
2015-11-30, 05:37 PM
What is 'high English'?
What is it with people and thinking dwarves sound like Scots? Where did this idea originate? Why is it so pervasive? Why is it never Gaelic accents but always Scots variants?
Why would orcs be Cockney? Shouldn't that be trolls, if anything?

How are these 'classical' ideas of what the races sound like?

Why would a lower class criminal have a Cockney accent, and how is a Southern drawl better than Cockney? How is Cockney hoarse?

Here's what I do: I mention that X speaks Y language with a certain accent and use my own accent when speaking in character and leave it up to the others to interpret that how they will. In (pseudo) Earth settings I may attempt (generally poorly) to recreate an accent but I strive to make it accurate rather than the hilariously bad movie/tv accents you hear so often. Usually I will just mention what sort of accent the person has.
If I were to try to find a proper accent for X group of people I would have to know how their native tongue sounds and how the language they are trying to speak sounds and I'm too lazy to make that up. For comic effect I may do something similar to Office Crabtree (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGNVU5ZjlgA) once in a while.

JoeJ
2015-11-30, 05:41 PM
What is it with people and thinking dwarves sound like Scots? Where did this idea originate? Why is it so pervasive? Why is it never Gaelic accents but always Scots variants?

John Rhys Davies used a Scottish accent in his portrayal of Gimli.

AMFV
2015-11-30, 05:47 PM
I tend to be partial to German accents for Dwarves. But that may just be me.

cobaltstarfire
2015-11-30, 06:09 PM
In the campaign I'm playing now, I decided to give my kenku rogue a slow, Southern State drawl, inspired in part by the TF2 Engineer (whom I derived a lot of inspiration from for the character), but also because my rogue is generally a little friendlier than most, and the drawl seemed a little more inviting than, say, a hoarse Cockney accent that a lower class criminal might have.


One of my irl games had a player with a magic sea turtle familiar thing with a southern drawl, only slightly more hill folky, and a bit high pitched...almost like a child I suppose?

It was rather entertaining, especially with how much of a sourpuss the familiar was while talking in this nice mild sounding voice with a cute twang to it.


I can't do or write accents to save my life though, I think the closest I ever got was a Kobold druid with a vocal tick of adding "yes?" or "no?" sometimes in multiples to the ends of many sentences. (Think a mix between Deekin from Neverwinter Nights and Ducky from Land Before Time I guess?)

I've also got a Aarakocra Barbarian that I try to capture a little bit of how Columbo talks/behaves, though I'm not sure how well I'm managing to do that. Probably would be easier if I went and watched some more Columbo.

But accents, I can't do...it's hard enough for me to do spoken role play, I wish I was better at it.

Talyn
2015-11-30, 06:14 PM
The accent stereotypes came, like many things in D&D, from Tolkien. (Except Scottish dwarves, that came from Warhammer and WarCraft.)

Tolkien's dwarves drew heavily on medieval Jews (including in the language), though the names were all from the Scandinavian Prose Edda.

Therefore, either a Hebrew or Scandinavian accent might be appropriate for playing a dwarf, if you are playing a classically Tolkienesque game world. (Shame I can't do either one of those with any degree of accuracy...)

Elves have posh British accents because Tolkien was British, and the elves represented everything good about Britain. Orcs and Goblins have rough British working-class accents for the same reason, but they are more "Midlands/enlisted military tough guy" than Cockney. Tolkien's trolls had some sort of ugly mix between back-country hick farmer and Cockney, though.

In the campaign I'm currently in, "refugee" dwarves from lands conquered by the orcs have German Yiddish accents, while "landed" dwarves have Israeli accents. Humans borrow the accent from whichever real-life language their home kingdom borrowed their naming conventions from. (Right now, we have "French," "German," "Spanish," "Italian" and "Gaelic/Old English/Pictish" lands.) Elves have snobby American accents, West Coast for Wood Elves (think San Francisco), East Coast for High Elves (think upstate New York or upper-class Virginia). Halflings don't have big native kingdoms, so they have the accent of whatever the dominant race/culture of where they grew up has. Gnomes are rare, but so far seem to have more generic middle-class American accents.

DaveSonOfDave
2015-11-30, 06:15 PM
What is 'high English'?
What is it with people and thinking dwarves sound like Scots? Where did this idea originate? Why is it so pervasive? Why is it never Gaelic accents but always Scots variants?
Why would orcs be Cockney? Shouldn't that be trolls, if anything?

How are these 'classical' ideas of what the races sound like?

Why would a lower class criminal have a Cockney accent, and how is a Southern drawl better than Cockney? How is Cockney hoarse?

Here's what I do: I mention that X speaks Y language with a certain accent and use my own accent when speaking in character and leave it up to the others to interpret that how they will. In (pseudo) Earth settings I may attempt (generally poorly) to recreate an accent but I strive to make it accurate rather than the hilariously bad movie/tv accents you hear so often. Usually I will just mention what sort of accent the person has.
If I were to try to find a proper accent for X group of people I would have to know how their native tongue sounds and how the language they are trying to speak sounds and I'm too lazy to make that up. For comic effect I may do something similar to Office Crabtree (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGNVU5ZjlgA) once in a while.

Didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition, but the generalities that I was referring to just seem to pop up regularly, at least in the games, books, and films that I watch. Of course, if you wanted an example, can I think of one at the moment? Not remotely, but if nothing else, I haven't seen/heard enough of a variation on these ideas to counteract or negate the idea that this is kind of what the norm is.

Jeff the Green
2015-11-30, 06:21 PM
I like Yiddish for dwarves. It's mostly Germanic and so gets the rune thing, but it's also very Jewish, and Tolkien admitted that the dwarves were partly inspired by a positive spin on Jewish stereotypes. Plus I like to imagine dwarven bards as Tevye. All day long I'd biddy biddy bum. If I were a wealthy dwarf!

Âmesang
2015-11-30, 06:48 PM
I tend to imagine my high-born sorceress character speaking in a "high" or otherwise posh, aristocratic English accent just to give her a fancy feel, although I'm wondering if northern Indian or Iranian might not be a better fit for "Ancient Suloise" (and I recall hearing that the "typical" Indian accent isn't all that different from Welsh, at least in some cases).

I can't do or write accents to save my life though, I think the closest I ever got was a Kobold druid with a vocal tick of adding "yes?" or "no?" sometimes in multiples to the ends of many sentences. (Think a mix between Deekin from Neverwinter Nights and Ducky from Land Before Time I guess?)

I've also got a Aarakocra Barbarian that I try to capture a little bit of how Columbo talks/behaves, though I'm not sure how well I'm managing to do that. Probably would be easier if I went and watched some more Columbo.

But accents, I can't do...it's hard enough for me to do spoken role play, I wish I was better at it.
I've a French vampire I (poorly) draw whom I can imagine speaking in much the same way, ending even her English sentences with a single "oui" or "non" …well, the rare times she deigns to speak (typically if whatever's on her mind is important or sarcastic). Then again I can picture the above (chaotic-evil) sorceress doing the same thing, so it might just be a sarcasm thing. Looking down on one's nose or some such.

I definitely feel the same way about doing a good accent, since I rarely speak enough myself at all; and, yes, you should watch more Columbo. :smallbiggrin:


I like Yiddish for dwarves. It's mostly Germanic and so gets the rune thing, but it's also very Jewish, and Tolkien admitted that the dwarves were partly inspired by a positive spin on Jewish stereotypes. Plus I like to imagine dwarven bards as Tevye. All day long I'd biddy biddy bum. If I were a wealthy dwarf!
For a little while my last group had a Jewish player who did that exact same thing, seeing the miserly stereotypes more present and thus more "appropriate."

That reminds me of wanting to give some stereotypically tough race a Russian accent, but one can quickly dig himself into a hole with that kind of line of thought.

Keltest
2015-11-30, 07:01 PM
If im not being stereotypical and using a pseudo-Scottish accent, I will use a pseudo-german accent for my dwarves. Partly I prefer the pseudo-Scottish because its comes much more naturally to me. For elves, I don't change the accent so much as the manner of speech; they tend to be very precise and are prone to use larger words than humans would. When theyre annoyed, they'll do it to extremes, on purpose. For Halflings and the like ill tap into my Pennsylvania heritage and throw in some good ol PA hillfolk speak, at least if they live in the countryside. I wont go so far as to say "wudder" though.

ShamasTheBard
2015-11-30, 07:28 PM
Personally my Dwarves have always been German in my head.

TheTeaMustFlow
2015-11-30, 08:07 PM
Given that they're a bunch of short miners that live in unpleasant hilly places, Dwarves are clearly welsh. Or maybe northern English. Why does the spellchecker demand capitalisation for English but not welsh? I'm shocked, shocked, to find that anglocentrism is going on in here!

Âmesang
2015-11-30, 08:16 PM
Come to think of it, I suppose one could play elves (or my sorceress) "proper" by having them avoid contractions in their speech, like Storm from the X-Men (or at least the animated series?).

Also I've the sudden urge to play as a fighter with a stoner/surfer accent, like the DragonStrike character played by Malibu from American Gladiators. :smallcool:

EDIT: Oh!, the thought of elves using "big words" and having watched Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' makes me want to add "salubrious" to a character's vocabulary.

VoxRationis
2015-11-30, 08:50 PM
I gave one group of dwarves Minnesotan accents (or as best I could replicate them) in one of my settings.

Kid Jake
2015-11-30, 09:15 PM
Didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition...

Nobody does. (https://youtu.be/7WJXHY2OXGE?t=38s)

DaveSonOfDave
2015-11-30, 09:22 PM
Nobody does. (https://youtu.be/7WJXHY2OXGE?t=38s)

I was hoping someone would post that. :smallsmile:

goto124
2015-11-30, 10:23 PM
I feel like I'm the only one who doesn't understand accents. If you told me a character has a German or Welsh or English accent my only reaction is "Huh?"

Talyn
2015-11-30, 10:30 PM
Given that they're a bunch of short miners that live in unpleasant hilly places, Dwarves are clearly welsh. Or maybe northern English. Why does the spellchecker demand capitalisation for English but not welsh? I'm shocked, shocked, to find that anglocentrism is going on in here!

It's because "welsh" can also be used as a verb, meaning "to go back on one's word," typically in a gambling context.

Now that I've written that, I sincerely hope that word is not an inherently racist (culturalist?) term, based on the assumption that the people of Wales were unreliable...

Amphetryon
2015-11-30, 10:35 PM
It's because "welsh" can also be used as a verb, meaning "to go back on one's word," typically in a gambling context.

Now that I've written that, I sincerely hope that word is not an inherently racist (culturalist?) term, based on the assumption that the people of Wales were unreliable...

I'd always heard and seen it as 'welch' in that context, though, interestingly, that shows up as a typo on ye olde spell checker.

Taet
2015-11-30, 11:17 PM
For Halflings and the like ill tap into my Pennsylvania heritage and throw in some good ol PA hillfolk speak, at least if they live in the countryside. I wont go so far as to say "wudder" though.
It takes an accent to make me stop saying 'wudder'. :smallredface: So I pay attention and put the Ts back in water and then

**Either I learn to do all of the vowel shift of the accent or I am to stop trying to do the accent.
***And stop the vocabulary shift too.
****I don't care that you can't remember the American word for a tailback. Just stop. :smallannoyed:
change a few words and all of the rude words and that is enough. Mostly. I had a bit of a time trying to explain what kind of insult wet meant. :smalltongue:

AMFV
2015-11-30, 11:42 PM
Well we seem to have a few interesting Dwarven options (a lot of Germanic dwarves). I'd be interested to see if people have done cultural reflufflings of the other races (Elves, in particular), since many of them seem to have pretty developed culture, or at least assumed cultures.

JoeJ
2015-12-01, 12:09 AM
Something I haven't seen, that would be interesting, would be elves with German or Scandinavian accents and names. Extra points if they also worship the Norse gods.

Marlowe
2015-12-01, 12:22 AM
I like Elvish being French, Undercommon Spanish, Sylvan Italian and Celestial Latin. Infernal is terrible Otaku Japanese and Abyssal is even more terrible LEETspeek.

For some reason, a lot of my actual characters have a faint Stage-Pirate/West Country English speech pattern. I have no idea what's going on there.

I had one character in PbP who spoke in slightly overdone New Zealand/Australian slang and managed to break the Dm in the process.:smalleek:

I'm also wondering what's meant be "High" English. Is that English with a RP-pronunciation accent, English in an archaic Germanic fashion spoken with all the verbs to the back of the sentence shoved, or is it English as spoken by somebody from Colorado?

Magic Myrmidon
2015-12-01, 01:25 AM
In my typical DM's setting, Gnolls are Spanish, Humans are German/Russian (depending on area of the world), fish people are Greek, Elves are French, Gnomes and Kobolds are Arabic (and technology focused), Dwarves often Swedish. Other races are less well-defined.

In my setting, I kinda do more geographically based cultures/languages. The magocracy (which is mostly elven) grew on a primarily Irish country which died out, and is now currently a mishmash of Irish, American, and French. It's weird.

VincentTakeda
2015-12-01, 06:57 AM
I go for japanese and russian accents for my characters most often.

I recommend for drow heavy campaigns to assign drow an appalachian drawl like Fix It Felix.
I think special snowflake races should talk l like goofy or donald duck.

FlumphPaladin
2015-12-01, 07:35 AM
I had my dwarves speak Afrikaans once. It was close enough to English for me to pick up, close enough to fake words, and foreign enough to not readily be understandable. Plus, all those Dutch sounds... try saying schild en vriend without feeling your beard grow a little!

Anonymouswizard
2015-12-01, 07:48 AM
I personally like to try for the following kinds of accents, despite being unable to do them:

Humans: my native home counties accent. Despite the similarities it is not a London accent, nor is it RP (think a couple of steps below RP in terms of poshness and Britishness). Despite what I've been told it is definitely not an American accent.
Dwarves: Yorkshire/Lancashire, because it gives me a 'hardworking' vibe. If I ever manage to get the subtleties sorted out there will suddenly be two rival groups of dwarves.
Elves: Chinese, no particular area but closer to either Mandarin/Cantonese depending on how I'm feeling. Fake 'oriental' if it's obviously being faked.
Halflings: Eh, don't really give them anything special.
Gnomes: nobody can hear it over the explosions, but the closest I can do to any American accent.
Orcs: WAAAARGH!

DigoDragon
2015-12-01, 07:53 AM
The one dwarf I played in all of D&D had some weird 50/50 mix of Scottish and Spanish in his accent. XD
Mostly cause I failed at making a convincing Spanish accent.

Despite I was born in Puerto Rico.

VoxRationis
2015-12-01, 10:00 AM
I personally like to try for the following kinds of accents, despite being unable to do them:
Elves: Chinese, no particular area but closer to either Mandarin/Cantonese depending on how I'm feeling. Fake 'oriental' if it's obviously being faked.


Your elves must be very linguistically different from most elves! How does one do a Chinese accent, incidentally?

cobaltstarfire
2015-12-01, 10:55 AM
I forgot an accent I've done.

I gave one of my few human characters a kind of psudo Jamaican accent or something? (He was originally a warcraft troll but became a human for future role plays).

I think the campaign my Kobold was in had the kobolds speak with a Russian accent, which probably makes the character even stranger sounding in peoples heads when mixed with the Ducky/Deekin kind of sound.

Edit: I imagine a Chinese accent would be very tonally different, there was a chinese character in an anime I watched recently (Read or Die the TV) and you could kind of tell, there was a tonality to how he talked that sounded Chinese even though he was speaking Japanese. And it seems to make sense that the tonality would be the big difference since the languages are very Tonal compared to English.

Joe the Rat
2015-12-01, 11:14 AM
Sometimes it's as much about sentence structure and word choice as pure accent.

For an English (US)-Language game:
I've been meaning to go Slavic with dwarves, but I've already assigned a cheap and dirty to my sky elves (dropped articles and nuclear wessels abound). The wood elves are more of the clipped nasal semi-British accent. Haven't had water elves show up yet, but they'll probably come out with a thin German, or perhaps lightly Swedish, to go with the general North Sea theme.

Dwarves are a bit more rough-n-tumble, standard tone with a cup of gravel and a dash of Pirate. Except the Redrocks, they're straight up US Southern. Some of the more officious clans will start dipping into mid-atlantic. Halfling has a lot of wink-wink-nudge-nudge, but otherwise sounds normal.

Gnomes tend to be high pitched and manic, thanks to our Gnome player. He sounds hilarious.

Humans... depends a bit on where they're from. The ones that came out of the empire will be more stereotypical British English, while the ones from the Northlands will vary by their native region. The general hodge-podge is fairly Midwesterm, but I've already established areas with sloppy Germanic, ridiculous French, a blended human-halfling community with a bit of Brooklyn, as well as a Rokugan-style champloo-with-fortune-cookie for our resident wuxia monk.

Goblins sound like Greg Bilsland. Hobgoblins sound deep and Scotchy, like Sean Connery on Novacaine. Kobolds are annoying. Fey are 1,001 flavors of creepy. Skeletons just rattle on.

Mind you, this is all how they sound in Imperial (aka Common). I do make a point of the non-native speakers having accents in the other languages. Humans speaking Elvish tend to be flat and slightly Elmer Fuddish, as they don't have the ear-wiggles. Hands can substitute, which is why Humans are sometimes called "Moose-callers" in Elvish. Mist Elves speak mainland Elvish with a bit of an accent, since their ears are pinned back (classic style) rather than straight out (Warcraft style).

Malifice
2015-12-01, 11:45 AM
Heh - this. When did Scottish become the default dwarven accent anyway?

I blame you Jackson. Dwarves should have a Norwegian accent for mine. Theyre based on saga dwarves after all; duergar is Norse for 'dwarf'.

I can't play a character with an accent. I can do a few good ones (my South african, received British and Californian English is ok) but they all pretty much wind up being spoken in my native Australian accent.

I've tried Austrian for my barbarians many a time too but it never lasts more than the first exclamation of 'Crom!'

Anonymouswizard
2015-12-01, 12:02 PM
Your elves must be very linguistically different from most elves! How does one do a Chinese accent, incidentally?

It depends. If you want to imitate someone who primarily speaks Mandarin in my experience they have a far more even tone, while someone who speaks Cantonese varies slightly more. To be honest I just imitate friend's accents, the only advice I can truly give if imagine a mini comma at the end of each word (because at least in Mandarin you pause after a word).

Bard1cKnowledge
2015-12-01, 12:43 PM
I have had a total of four characters that used accents, I am guilty of giving a dwarf a Scottish accent. I was going for Nordic but it came out Scottish.


Another dwarf, this one a monk, spoke the ancient language of luchadores. Also he had a Spanish accent.

My rouge , a former farmer, I gave the most southren accent I could, inspired by the Muppet show guest star whose name I forget

The last one I had no inspiration for, a half orc who spoke with a clear deep voice. An ex gladiator with a fondness for kittens. A good comparison to his accent would be the end of the Rick and Morty episode "Raising Gazorpazorp"

veti
2015-12-01, 04:32 PM
Real-world accents for different races? - is always going to be about racial stereotyping, both of the fictional race and the non-fictional owners of the accent.

Mix it up. Make a list of all the accents you think you can imitate, put a number next to each, and roll a die when you want to pick one for a character who hasn't spoken yet. I once had a unicorn (snow-white) who spoke broad Jamaican, a goddess of romantic love who spoke Glaswegian, and a Death who spoke Australian.

After all, a Pakistani who's raised from a young age in Birmingham (England) will talk very much like a British Midlander, with no discernable foreign accent. Why shouldn't elves, dwarves, orcs etc. pick up their speech patterns the same way?

Florian
2015-12-01, 04:37 PM
Ah, you weird weird english speakers. No clue at all. A proper dwarf has to have an north frisian accent. Nothing else will do. Screw that scottish bollocks.

Keltest
2015-12-01, 04:58 PM
a Death who spoke Australian.

This would explain so many things...

VoxRationis
2015-12-01, 05:41 PM
After all, a Pakistani who's raised from a young age in Birmingham (England) will talk very much like a British Midlander, with no discernable foreign accent. Why shouldn't elves, dwarves, orcs etc. pick up their speech patterns the same way?

Aye, this is true, but in most fantasy settings except Eberron (or those settings which put enough linguistic detail that each race gets multiple languages), most elves, dwarves, etc. are going to grow up in the same linguistic environment and thus will have similar accents. When was the last time you saw an elf character who didn't speak Elven?

DaveSonOfDave
2015-12-01, 06:20 PM
I think it's cool that there are so many takes on this subject. I had thought the stereotypes in the OP were pretty cemented, but it doesn't look like this is the case at all.

Marlowe
2015-12-01, 06:31 PM
You tend to find on these forums that a lot of people are convinced that "X" is standard practice in the game, and even backed up in the rules or fluff, when "X" is just the idiosyncratic convention of their own group and they've just been running with it for so long it seems like it is set in stone.

When you get one of these people start to claiming that their own "X" is the way it's done and other approaches are somehow wrong, that's when the hissies start to be fitted.

Anyway, what's this "High English" thing again? I'm having fun imagining your Elves speaking like 16th century Cumberland border reivers. "I assure ye, yerhonour, I never took none. An' if I'd taken some, I swear t' yerhonour I'd be givin' none back t' no poxy prattle o' Dwarves..."

DaveSonOfDave
2015-12-01, 06:35 PM
Mostly I meant that they speak in a very proper fashion and act in a "high class" sort of way, not really using contractions or any turns of phrase that someone more common might use (I called it High mostly because I couldn't think of a better term at the time).

Anonymouswizard
2015-12-01, 07:35 PM
After all, a Pakistani who's raised from a young age in Birmingham (England) will talk very much like a British Midlander, with no discernable foreign accent. Why shouldn't elves, dwarves, orcs etc. pick up their speech patterns the same way?

I can say, from real life experience, that they become annoyed if you refer to Birmingham as being part of the north.


Aye, this is true, but in most fantasy settings except Eberron (or those settings which put enough linguistic detail that each race gets multiple languages), most elves, dwarves, etc. are going to grow up in the same linguistic environment and thus will have similar accents. When was the last time you saw an elf character who didn't speak Elven?

The campaign I'm currently in almost ended up with an elf that spoke Orcish and Dwarfen. Sadly, everybody speaks their race's native language.

Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll
2015-12-01, 08:29 PM
I base my accents on where the various places are based on. Dwarves are mine-y, so they get Welsh, and building on that, other Dwarven subcultures get other Celtic accents (Scots Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, I don't know Manx but yeah). Elves are alien and strange and like lots of vowels, so they get Finnish, and by extension other Ugric languages (Estonian, mainly. If they ever visit the Elves of the Jade Isles, the ancestral homelands of the Elves, I have no clue what I'll do). Orcs are a barbarian horse-nomad people, so they get Russian, the language of the steppes. Gnomes live in swamps, and are also very clever, so they get to be Dutch, etc.

Marlowe
2015-12-01, 08:35 PM
Mostly I meant that they speak in a very proper fashion and act in a "high class" sort of way, not really using contractions or any turns of phrase that someone more common might use (I called it High mostly because I couldn't think of a better term at the time).


"We will be cruel to the Goblins, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. And they will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us. And the Goblin will not be able to help themselves but to imagine the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, and our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the Goblin will be sickened by us, and the Goblin will talk about us, and the Goblin will fear us. And when the Goblin closes their eyes at night and they are tortured by their subconscious for the evil they have done, it will be with thoughts of us they are tortured with. Sound good?"

That's even better!:smallsmile:

Okay, seriously. The word you're looking for is "Formal". "High" in linguistics often refers to the dialect spoken by somebody from a geographically elevated area as opposed to somebody from a low-lying one. "High German" and "Low German" don't refer to class dialect, for instance, but to the archaic difference between the dialect of someone from Swabia versus someone from Frisia. So you say "High" English I think Hillbilly cliches.

TheTeaMustFlow
2015-12-02, 01:44 AM
Mostly I meant that they speak in a very proper fashion and act in a "high class" sort of way, not really using contractions or any turns of phrase that someone more common might use (I called it High mostly because I couldn't think of a better term at the time).

The accent you probably mean is received pronunciation (the one where you sound like the royal family, or maybe John Cleese). I have no idea why it's called that.

Coidzor
2015-12-02, 01:54 AM
Well, that depends on how well you can do a Scandinavian/Norse accent.

As for Southern Drawls, I'm actually fond of an idea a friend of mine had that can only be summed up as "The Drow Will Rise Again!"


I think the campaign my Kobold was in had the kobolds speak with a Russian accent, which probably makes the character even stranger sounding in peoples heads when mixed with the Ducky/Deekin kind of sound.

I'm now imagining kobold cousin Roman from GTA IV.

Âmesang
2015-12-02, 11:25 AM
I like Yiddish for dwarves. It's mostly Germanic and so gets the rune thing, but it's also very Jewish, and Tolkien admitted that the dwarves were partly inspired by a positive spin on Jewish stereotypes. Plus I like to imagine dwarven bards as Tevye. All day long I'd biddy biddy bum. If I were a wealthy dwarf!
Come to think of it, a dwarf's "stability" would make it easier to use Perform (string instruments) on a roof, no? (Finally got to see the film last night on TCM. Loved it!)

BWR
2015-12-02, 04:21 PM
The accent you probably mean is received pronunciation (the one where you sound like the royal family, or maybe John Cleese). I have no idea why it's called that.

From an older sense of 'received' meaning more like 'approved'.

cobaltstarfire
2015-12-02, 04:32 PM
I'm now imagining kobold cousin Roman from GTA IV.

This may be one of the only times I wish I've played GTA games, because I'm fairly certain that it would be a good laugh if I knew what you were talking about. :3

Tetraplex
2015-12-02, 05:01 PM
Cajun-Japanese accented Halflings, their only real 'home country' being a swampland between the French-Hindi elves and the Russo-Chinese (with Yiddish language!) dwarves.

To the south is the expansionist human empire, which while heavily inspired by the phrase 'European North Korea at the start of the Industrial Revolution' has variety of German accents.

To the Far East is the land of the Hengeyokai, who have been refluffed into basically Shinto American Aborgines. The various tribes have different modern American accents.

The Orks sound like gruff English noblemen because it's hilarious.

Broken Crown
2015-12-02, 06:07 PM
Regarding Tolkien's influence on the perceived culture of fantasy races, I personally can never read the Uruk-Hai's lines in The Two Towers without imagining them spoken by a stereotypical Drill Sergeant Nasty U.S. Marine: "We are the Fighting Uruk-Hai! Hoo-ah!"

Milo v3
2015-12-02, 10:55 PM
In one setting I gave elves an Aboriginal Australian accent, half-elves an Australian accent, dwarves a Chinese accent, dhampir a Japanese accent, and wayang an Indonesian accent.

AMFV
2015-12-02, 10:57 PM
Regarding Tolkien's influence on the perceived culture of fantasy races, I personally can never read the Uruk-Hai's lines in The Two Towers without imagining them spoken by a stereotypical Drill Sergeant Nasty U.S. Marine: "We are the Fighting Uruk-Hai! Hoo-ah!"

Point of Order: Marines do not say "Hoo-ah" "Oorah!" would be the Marine version, "Hoo-ah" is Army speak.

Kid Jake
2015-12-02, 11:29 PM
This may be one of the only times I wish I've played GTA games, because I'm fairly certain that it would be a good laugh if I knew what you were talking about. :3

This guy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tJqmTjmVq4). Just imagine him calling and begging for attention every time he gets bored and you've basically recreated 50% of GTA IV. :smalltongue:

Spore
2015-12-02, 11:42 PM
I wanted to brag that our (German group's) dwarves don't have any accent. Then I realized most dwarves talk in a more grisly and deep accent (yes, it is hilarious, even when it shouldn't be). While being drunk, xenophobic and never clean. The damages 4 years of playing with a Cha-penalty does to a core race. We really don't push real world accents onto fantasy races (we happily do it in postapocalypse though), instead we alter the typical grammar to match the social background of the character.

cobaltstarfire
2015-12-02, 11:45 PM
This guy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tJqmTjmVq4). Just imagine him calling and begging for attention every time he gets bored and you've basically recreated 50% of GTA IV. :smalltongue:

Yeah he seems like he'd make a pretty good kobold!

I like having this russian accent thing for kobolds, yes I do! /channeling my kobold druid

Broken Crown
2015-12-03, 12:46 AM
Point of Order: Marines do not say "Hoo-ah" "Oorah!" would be the Marine version, "Hoo-ah" is Army speak.

Duly noted.

FlumphPaladin
2015-12-03, 09:28 AM
Duly noted.

Before taking this down a too-political path, I'll just leave this here:

"Semper Fi, Uruk-Hai!"

MrConsideration
2015-12-03, 02:16 PM
My Dwarves are Yorkshiremen through and through. As this is also my native accent this makes Dwarves fairly easy - I just turn off all conditioning I've had to speak more like a Southerner.

Received pronunciation is called that because it isn't a natural accent - it's an accent imposed by standardisation.

Brummies definitely have a discernible accent, especially Pakistani/Punjabi Brummies - I used to teach at two majority Pakistani schools in Birmingham and the kids had their own lovely little Pakistani patois (bits of Urdu, bits of Arabic, English slang and bizarrely loads of African-American inspired slang)*.
Every little culture has their own accent, and it can give an area a real authenticity. Probably will come off as hammy in play though - and its hard to do an accent that isn't an imitation of an existing accent.

*and thanks to my influence, the occasional, massively overemphasised Yorkshire addition.

AMFV
2015-12-03, 07:36 PM
Before taking this down a too-political path, I'll just leave this here:

"Semper Fi, Uruk-Hai!"

Actually the way the Uruks were portrayed in the film was frighteningly close to ways that I've seen other military folks get treated. It might be fun to run a game like that (although in D&D I'd be more inclined to use Hobgoblins), all the negative aspects of the military: Pointless slogans, reduction of the value of life to a number by the higher ups, ridiculous and counterproductive rules, incompetent officers, and then let the players loose in that world.

cobaltstarfire
2015-12-03, 07:47 PM
counterproductive rules

Don't forget the rules that exist because someone was dumb/crazy enough to do whatever it was, and a rule needed to be made for it.

Marlowe
2015-12-03, 09:34 PM
The Hittite Empire had several pages (well, tablets) of rules relating to the correct way for a soldier to ask permission for a privy break during drills and inspections. With different procedures depending on whether we're talking liquids or solids.:smalleek:

Talyn
2015-12-03, 09:49 PM
Before taking this down a too-political path, I'll just leave this here:

"Semper Fi, Uruk-Hai!"

"From the halls of Khazad Dum-ah
To the shores of Eressea,
We fight Lord Sauron's battles
Until his final victory!"

StealthyRobot
2015-12-03, 10:43 PM
I can't do a scottish accent to save my life, so any dwarves I've voiced spoke in my normal american accent.

Although I'm gonna play a dwarven pirate in a upcoming irl campaign. I'm going to give him that traditional pirate action with a dash of nordic.
"Ah don' know about ye, but ah think me fist would love tah meet ye nose!"

I've been practicing, but I still think it won't work well

BWR
2015-12-04, 04:51 AM
Actually the way the Uruks were portrayed in the film was frighteningly close to ways that I've seen other military folks get treated. It might be fun to run a game like that (although in D&D I'd be more inclined to use Hobgoblins), all the negative aspects of the military: Pointless slogans, reduction of the value of life to a number by the higher ups, ridiculous and counterproductive rules, incompetent officers, and then let the players loose in that world.

Take a look at Mystara's "Orcs of Thar". It came with a little military training manual they use. It's hilarious.

FlumphPaladin
2015-12-04, 09:47 AM
"From the halls of Khazad Dum-ah
To the shores of Eressea,
We fight Lord Sauron's battles
Until his final victory!"

*removes hat and prostrates self*

Hail, Filk Master! I am not worthy!

Beleriphon
2015-12-05, 05:48 PM
I'm also wondering what's meant be "High" English. Is that English with a RP-pronunciation accent, English in an archaic Germanic fashion spoken with all the verbs to the back of the sentence shoved, or is it English as spoken by somebody from Colorado?

Its Received Pronunciation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Received_Pronunciation). Also known as BBC English.


Actually the way the Uruks were portrayed in the film was frighteningly close to ways that I've seen other military folks get treated. It might be fun to run a game like that (although in D&D I'd be more inclined to use Hobgoblins), all the negative aspects of the military: Pointless slogans, reduction of the value of life to a number by the higher ups, ridiculous and counterproductive rules, incompetent officers, and then let the players loose in that world.

Isn't that Paranoia?

Beleriphon
2015-12-05, 05:49 PM
duplicate post

Marlowe
2015-12-05, 09:14 PM
Its Received Pronunciation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Received_Pronunciation). Also known as BBC English.




Whilst it might well be diverting to hear Elves pronouncing every vowel as a strangulated nasal "a" as per the accent to which you allude, I have not had the pleasure of hearing Elves ever so played, much less to the extent of it such being a standard trope as the original post asserts.

Beleriphon
2015-12-06, 09:09 AM
Whilst it might well be diverting to hear Elves pronouncing every vowel as a strangulated nasal "a" as per the accent to which you allude, I have not had the pleasure of hearing Elves ever so played, much less to the extent of it such being a standard trope as the original post asserts.

I mean a good number of the Elvers in LotR speak that way, or the actors attempt to do so. The thing with RP is that it tends to be viewed as the default pronunciation for English in the UK and the most widely understood speech to non-UK natives. Which reminds me. I was in the New York state not long ago (I'm from Canada), and listening to the radio there was a tea commercial using an English chap to the do the advert. Except I watch enough BBC programming to recognize the guy isn't from the UK, but rather an American's idea of what somebody from the UK sounds like. So I kind of take accents in an RPG like anything else, its an attempt by somebody who is channeling their inner Russian/German/French/Spanish/South African/Australian/Schwarzenegger or whatever without actually having lived in those places or being overly familiar with the accent.

Talyn
2015-12-06, 12:07 PM
*removes hat and prostrates self*

Hail, Filk Master! I am not worthy!

I wish I could take sole credit, but I got the idea from the Harvard Lampoon's Bored of the Rings, with the lyrics corrected to actually fit the original books...

Winter_Wolf
2015-12-08, 03:25 PM
I can pull off two accents: Russian and Nushagak region villager. Everything else is horribly mangled.
So, burly Russian dwarves they shall be.

Beleriphon
2015-12-09, 02:49 PM
I can pull off two accents: Russian and Nushagak region villager. Everything else is horribly mangled.
So, burly Russian dwarves they shall be.

I've always like Russian dwarves. Its part of the reason that I based dwarven names on Slavic names rather than the more usually Norse ones. Who's cooler Snorri Snorrison or Varban Kavka?

Faily
2015-12-09, 05:01 PM
I never really try to emulate accents for my characters... I've had one that I occassionally did a "Southern Belle" type of speech for, but most of the time I focus more on the choice of words and manner of speech, rather than trying to butcher an accent.

A (dis)honorable mention though would be my grog-character in Ars Magica, who is a relatively simple-minded "gentle giant"-kind of guy who stammers. I greatly enjoy stammering out my dumb questions. :smallbiggrin:

We don't really do accents at our table, though one of my GMs is very good at acting out his NPCs, to the point that he often stands up and more or less performs the role for us. Which is much better than any shoddy accent. More focus on good roleplay, and less focus on silly voices, for me. ^_^

daremetoidareyo
2015-12-09, 05:16 PM
It takes an accent to make me stop saying 'wudder'. :smallredface: So I pay attention and put the Ts back in water and then

change a few words and all of the rude words and that is enough. Mostly. I had a bit of a time trying to explain what kind of insult wet meant. :smalltongue:

Your haflin's gawn ignore the rest of dem jawns.

Wardog
2015-12-09, 05:17 PM
John Rhys Davies used a Scottish accent in his portrayal of Gimli.

The "dwarves are Scottish" trope long predates the LotR films.

Enough that when I first say it, one of my first thoughts on meeting Gimli was "Oh, for goodness sake - why have they gone for the Scottish Dwarf stereotype?"

Faily
2015-12-09, 05:46 PM
The "dwarves are Scottish" trope long predates the LotR films.

Enough that when I first say it, one of my first thoughts on meeting Gimli was "Oh, for goodness sake - why have they gone for the Scottish Dwarf stereotype?"

IIRC, I think the Drizzt-books had Bruenor Battlehammer with a "Scottish" accent? At least that's what I recall my impression being...

Keltest
2015-12-09, 06:11 PM
IIRC, I think the Drizzt-books had Bruenor Battlehammer with a "Scottish" accent? At least that's what I recall my impression being...

Battlehammer Dwarves (and Catti-Brie) do speak with a bit of an accent, but translating accents to text can get tricky pretty quickly unless you want to horribly mangle the English language. Much more the difference comes about in word choice. Theres much "Bah"ing and terms like 'bellyaching' in their vocabulary.

jinjitsu
2015-12-23, 08:35 PM
I choose a real-world language to base each in-game language on. Based on connections I perceive between in-game races, I choose similar languages; for example, I've based Dwarf, Undercommon, and Goblin all on former Soviet bloc Middle Eastern languages (Uzbek, Tajik, etc.) because I see the speakers of those languages as having shared origins.

Along with that, I determine how cultures have developed to change the Common accent. My northern high elves have RP accents because, as a rule, they're brought up formally; half-elves have variable backgrounds, so they could be RP, Estuary, Cockney, or otherwise, depending. Residents of a southeast nation that sprung up through a mining boom all have Australian accents in Common, regardless of their race; northeasterners have slight Lapland accents because they're surrounded by giants (Giant is Swedish).

If someone tends to speak a racial language more often than Common, they probably have that accent rather than one based on an American/English/Commonwealth dialect. For example, if a half-orc was raised by humans, he has a Texan accent; if he was raised by orcs, Russian.

Of course, the fact that I'm practically an amateur dialectician helps with this; I've spent more time than I'd like to admit studying accents.

Nightcanon
2015-12-24, 07:54 PM
John Rhys Davies used a Scottish accent in his portrayal of Gimli.

At times, but there were others where his Welsh accent was noticeable, too.

hamishspence
2015-12-24, 08:31 PM
Battlehammer Dwarves (and Catti-Brie) do speak with a bit of an accent, but translating accents to text can get tricky pretty quickly unless you want to horribly mangle the English language.

The Scottish Warhammer author William King did it fairly entertainingly with the dwarf airship designer in the Gotrek & Felix books. He's the only dwarf in those books with that accent though.

Talakeal
2015-12-27, 08:00 PM
I'm playing a dwarf currently and every time I speak I slip into a scottish accent without meaning to, its just too ingrained.

Amphetryon
2015-12-27, 08:28 PM
I'm playing a dwarf currently and every time I speak I slip into a scottish accent without meaning to, its just too ingrained.

Do you ever tell the Captain that the engines cannae take the strain?

AuthorGirl
2015-12-27, 09:51 PM
What is 'high English'?
What is it with people and thinking dwarves sound like Scots? Where did this idea originate? Why is it so pervasive? Why is it never Gaelic accents but always Scots variants?
Why would orcs be Cockney? Shouldn't that be trolls, if anything?

How are these 'classical' ideas of what the races sound like?

Why would a lower class criminal have a Cockney accent, and how is a Southern drawl better than Cockney? How is Cockney hoarse?

Here's what I do: I mention that X speaks Y language with a certain accent and use my own accent when speaking in character and leave it up to the others to interpret that how they will. In (pseudo) Earth settings I may attempt (generally poorly) to recreate an accent but I strive to make it accurate rather than the hilariously bad movie/tv accents you hear so often. Usually I will just mention what sort of accent the person has.
If I were to try to find a proper accent for X group of people I would have to know how their native tongue sounds and how the language they are trying to speak sounds and I'm too lazy to make that up. For comic effect I may do something similar to Office Crabtree (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGNVU5ZjlgA) once in a while.

I am not too lazy!
I agree: what is High English?
Why are these ideas 'classical'?
Why would an elf sound High English (whatever that is) when their native tongue would just lead to apostrophes where there should be none, odd emphasis placement, and a struggle with English grammar?
Besides all this, I just say the accent. Even if it's a real accent. I WILL NOT give my players another running joke about my voice.

AuthorGirl
2015-12-27, 09:54 PM
I choose a real-world language to base each in-game language on. Based on connections I perceive between in-game races, I choose similar languages; for example, I've based Dwarf, Undercommon, and Goblin all on former Soviet bloc Middle Eastern languages (Uzbek, Tajik, etc.) because I see the speakers of those languages as having shared origins.

Along with that, I determine how cultures have developed to change the Common accent. My northern high elves have RP accents because, as a rule, they're brought up formally; half-elves have variable backgrounds, so they could be RP, Estuary, Cockney, or otherwise, depending. Residents of a southeast nation that sprung up through a mining boom all have Australian accents in Common, regardless of their race; northeasterners have slight Lapland accents because they're surrounded by giants (Giant is Swedish).

If someone tends to speak a racial language more often than Common, they probably have that accent rather than one based on an American/English/Commonwealth dialect. For example, if a half-orc was raised by humans, he has a Texan accent; if he was raised by orcs, Russian.

Of course, the fact that I'm practically an amateur dialectician helps with this; I've spent more time than I'd like to admit studying accents.

Are you the creator of Heroes of Elementa? Because this is all quite eerily familiar to the campaign-language/DMing based chats we have.

AuthorGirl
2015-12-27, 09:57 PM
*removes hat and prostrates self*

Hail, Filk Master! I am not worthy!

I know, right? That was AWESOME!! *bows down repeatedly*

jinjitsu
2015-12-29, 07:39 PM
I agree: what is High English?
Why are these ideas 'classical'?
Why would an elf sound High English (whatever that is) when their native tongue would just lead to apostrophes where there should be none, odd emphasis placement, and a struggle with English grammar?

"High English" is what a lot of people call Received Pronunciation, which is a manufactured British accent. It's often called BBC English. It's what most of John Cleese's characters, especially the presenters/news anchors, used on Monty Python's Flying Circus. It's very formal-sounding and was engineered to give one an air of authority and intelligence, which is why elves tend to speak it in fantasy.

As far as dwarf accents, I think it comes down to the fact that most of Great Britain's mines are in the North, Wales, and Scotland. This, coupled with the general English perception of Scots as surly and prickly, meant that Scots were their closest equivalent in the Isles.

Beleriphon
2015-12-30, 08:17 AM
"High English" is what a lot of people call Received Pronunciation, which is a manufactured British accent. It's often called BBC English. It's what most of John Cleese's characters, especially the presenters/news anchors, used on Monty Python's Flying Circus. It's very formal-sounding and was engineered to give one an air of authority and intelligence, which is why elves tend to speak it in fantasy.

Hey now, something like 3% of the population speak that way natively in the UK. I mean I'm sure the royal family and attendant aristocrats make up around 3% of the population right?

Jay R
2015-12-31, 11:22 PM
I never use accents. It pulls people out of the fantasy world; it doesn't bring them in. I occasionally use specific speech patterns, like German verbs at ends of words, or alliterative curses. ("By Conan's Copper Codpiece!")

Marlowe
2016-01-01, 12:30 AM
All these examples of "High English"/"Received Pronounciation"...

I listened to the "BBC Wahld Sahvice" for Years.

None of these examples; not John Cleese, not the Elves in Lotr, sound anything like Received Pronounciation. Most of the Elves in LoTR are Australian and New Zealand Actors simply suppressing their accents. John Cleese is from Somerset. These people are simply speaking normal English. "Received Pronounciation" has a very distinctive nasal drawl to it.

EDIT: In case I did not make myself clear; most of the examples given of "high English" are simple normal unaccented "Hollywood" English without obvious regional idioms or accents . "Received Pronunciation" is something rather different.

The Elves in LotR do NOT speak "Received Pronunciation". They're simply speaking English.

Wardog
2016-01-01, 06:40 AM
All these examples of "High English"/"Received Pronounciation"...

I listened to the "BBC Wahld Sahvice" for Years.

None of these examples; not John Cleese, not the Elves in Lotr, sound anything like Received Pronounciation. Most of the Elves in LoTR are Australian and New Zealand Actors simply suppressing their accents. John Cleese is from Somerset. These people are simply speaking normal English. "Received Pronounciation" has a very distinctive nasal drawl to it.

EDIT: In case I did not make myself clear; most of the examples given of "high English" are simple normal unaccented "Hollywood" English without obvious regional idioms or accents . "Received Pronunciation" is something rather different.

Do you have any examples of RP? I would have thought most of those would have counted. (The other one that i would have thought would be a famous example of RP is Captain Picard).

Marlowe
2016-01-01, 07:00 AM
Examples of RP? Patrick Stewart is from Yorkshire and it shows, so he's not RP. He's in the club of those that speak the English good. Without distinction.

Example of RP? Seen "The King's Speech"? Edward VIII? Especially the abdication speech?

Or, you know. ANY message from the Queen would do, since how she speaks is the final arbiter of Recieved Pronunciation. Of course, she's kinda flexible.

Keltest
2016-01-01, 07:38 AM
He's in the club of those that speak the English good.

Im sorry, I had to laugh.

Marlowe
2016-01-01, 08:12 AM
Im sorry, I had to laugh.

Yes. Keltest. That was the idea.

Keltest
2016-01-01, 04:15 PM
Yes. Keltest. That was the idea.

Then I guess im not sorry.

Git777
2016-01-03, 09:49 PM
On the subject of Accents, last summer I was game testing a sci-fi rpg with the best gaming group I have ever encountered. Everyone really got in to the roles and it was a really immersive experience! But the NPCs voiced by our GM where great! we had Sergay the eastern European sounding ruthless yet charming merc, Bronco the less-than-confidant and totally unhinged Aussie space cop (Think mark chopper ried) and "The Boss" a south African warlord and corporate investor. Evan non earth accents popped up when the GM was stuck some where betwixt indian and welsh!

GentlemanVoodoo
2016-01-03, 10:58 PM
There seems to be a tendency to assign default accents to races or classes that have stood the test of time. Elves tend to be high English, Dwarves tend to be Scottish, Orcs are a rough and gruff Cockney, etc. But sometimes, the classical ideas of what a race and class sound like just doesn't seem to fit the character that you want to build. Have you ever made a character that has had something of a different accent or speech pattern that just felt better for the character you wanted to play?

In the campaign I'm playing now, I decided to give my kenku rogue a slow, Southern State drawl, inspired in part by the TF2 Engineer (whom I derived a lot of inspiration from for the character), but also because my rogue is generally a little friendlier than most, and the drawl seemed a little more inviting than, say, a hoarse Cockney accent that a lower class criminal might have.

To address your question OP, it is because there are certain expectations based on traditions of back in the day gaming (notorious for D&D) or that certain races would speak the languages associated with those from the countries where these fantasy races would have originated from or have a cultural tie to.

FlumphPaladin
2016-01-04, 03:26 PM
Of course, she's kinda flexible.
http://www.morethings.com/fan/monty_python/nudge-nudge-monty-python-115.jpg

BWR
2016-01-04, 03:35 PM
http://www.morethings.com/fan/monty_python/nudge-nudge-monty-python-115.jpg

First reaction: LOL
Second reaction: Great, now I need some brain bleach to get that image out of my head. *shudder*

Faily
2016-01-04, 04:12 PM
Evan non earth accents popped up when the GM was stuck some where betwixt indian and welsh!

Silly, we all know Indian and Welsh sound the same (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCR1l9gYTLM). :smallwink: