Wednesday, October 05, 2016

How To Talk Like A Proper American

It's so charming when a British writer writes Americans. I imagine it goes the other way, too, and I hope that someone in England is delighted by our errors, too.

Whispers Underground is the third book in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch, and it is just what I expected--a lovely audiobook, expertly read and acted by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, full of details about the magical world of London and oddball characters, especially pragmatic cop Leslie, fussy Nightingale, and our favorite scientific magician's apprentice, Peter Grant.

And as with most mystery novels (in my experience), 80% of the investigation is simultaneously red herring and the best part.  The actual murderer is someone whose name I had forgotten by the time they brought him back up.  And it's beside the point, because I was more interested in what that Nolan punk was doing with the third-rate vegetables he was peddling.

But the fun part was the American FBI agent, and Holdbrook-Smith's flat Midwestern accent.  He did a decent job, but the fun part was all on Aaronovitch.  There are small subtleties that ring wrong.  I think my favorite is "about" vs. "around."  Americans don't hang about or mess about, and I suppose English people don't hang around or mess around.  We also rarely queue up, or have a proper cup of tea--though we might learn the proper way to make a cup of tea, if you can see the distinction..

Always a charmer, and I'd listen to Kobna Holdbrook-Smith read from the phone book.  Peace out.

1 comment:

Lianna Williamson said...

Back when I was forced to read Fifty Shades of Grey for book club, the epic failure of the American accent was one of the many things that drove me nuts about it.