NP-Ah considers the Boston accent in movies


Actual Bostonian actors

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The funny thing is, when there are actual actors from Boston or the Boston area in movies, such as Mark Wahlberg or Matt Damon, and they are depicting Bostonians, they often use a DIFFERENT "Boston accent" than their natural Boston accent. Matt Damon's accent in "The Departed" was nothing like his actual accent. Likewise with Wahlberg in "Ted". I think this is because there is an actual Boston accent (actually many Boston accents) and then there is the "accent that movie audiences will accept as the Boston accent."


Some actors might have had

Some actors might have had voice training to negate or remove it in order to be considered for more roles, much like tv news people. I'm not sure how "gone" it becomes but that's kinda sad.

Matt Damon is a Harvard

Matt Damon is a Harvard-educated writer from Cambridge. In the Departed, he was portraying a townie Statie from Southie. Why wouldn't you expect him to use a different accent?



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The Boston accent isn't uniform, so even a native might have to adapt for a proper Southie accent.


Alex Rocco

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It sounded to me in "The Departed"that Damon was doing a note perfect imitation of actor and Somerville native Alex Rocco's voice. Did anyone else notice that?

It sure is, Gregl.

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That's one of the things about The Town, among a number of other things, that helped ruin it for me.

Many people's Boston accent is subtle

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but some (a minority of people) the accent is very pronounced and in your face.

My observations are the accent is changing, and this has accelerated over the past 30 odd years, most kids today who come from the socioeconomic class who would naturally speak with a local, regional accent are speaking a hybrid, modified version, it's just more subtle than the past, but the 'ah' vs 'urrr' is still unmistakable. People with a Boston or New York accent(s) are always going to sound different from most other Americans because of that letter 'R'.

I've also noticed most young black kids and young adults today no longer have that southern type accent most black kids had when I was a kid back in the late 70s - 80s. I suppose it's because multiple generations have now passed sinced the great black migration out of the south to the north.

But the accent itself is divided primarily along socioeconomic lines. Most people born and raised in an upper middle class background in eastern MA and Boston speak like they're from Madison,Wisconsin. For some some reason a small town midwest accent is considered de rigueur in academia and the 'professional' world.

I don't know where this urban

I don't know where this urban legend started, but people from the upper midwest have a noticeably nasal accent, as exemplified by the way they pronounce the state "Wiscahnsin".

For some some reason a small town midwest accent is considered de rigueur in academia and the 'professional' world


The so-called General American accent isn't heard in the

US states that border on Canada like Wisconsin. As you note, they have a distinctive accent. See "Fargo" and "Buffalo 66" for exaggerated examples. General American is more of a received pronunciation, the region-less sounding accent of TV newspeople.

It's what actors who get coaching to lose their regional accents (e.g., natives of Boston, Texas, South Carolina) are taught to speak. Mark Wahlberg is a famous example of an actor who spent years and tens of thousands of dollars trying to lose his Boston accent; it is ironic that he now gets roles like his Bostonian in "Ted".

The Americans whose native accent sounds most like General American are in Iowa and nearby states.

Well, as has been pointed out

Well, as has been pointed out here, there are different Boston accents.

I didn't think the actress in The Perfect Storm did such a bad job with her accent, maybe it was a little too strong, but otherwise OK.

RIP, Robin Williams, you were a great talent, but

your Boston accent in Good Will Hunting has to be one of the worst Hollywood ones ever. As the NPR piece noted, Julianne Moore is really terrible, too. The cast of Ray Donovan is pretty uneven, but mostly decent. Robert Mitchum in The Friends of Eddie Coyle remains my favorite; he's the most convincing drunken-low-level-hoodlum-at-a-Big-Bad-Bruins-era-Garden-game evah.


Once it's gone it's gone

I worked very hard to get rid of my accent (parents from Medford and Brockton) because at the time I thought I sounded fuckin retahded.

I have audiotapes from the 70s that show just how Boston/eastern Mass my accent originally was - but these days I can't even do a decent imitation of my old self.

Now I consider it a loss.