His Master’s Voice

Here’s a damn good question: Why in fantasy worlds that are made for the screen does everyone speak with British accents? Why all those English accents in LOTR and even Game of Thrones, which is written by American George R.R. Martin? I can understand LOTR since Master Tolkien wanted to create a pastoral and idyllic British myth populated with lovely Hobbits. But GOT with quaint British accents? Is pretension at work here, much like an American restaurant that opens for high tea?

In my best PC Plod I also want to ask: “What’s all this then?” As a Brit myself (by way of Wales), I can’t really say I find the British accent exotic or an accent that is best suited to fantasy worlds. In fact, the argot I generally think of when I think fantasy world would probably be akin to Something I’ve Never Ever Heard Before!

But I know that’s more ludicrous than English accents.

What’s even more interesting to me is that these fictional realms have also been dominated by Imperial Britain. Wow, to think that a small island can have so much cultural and linguistic clout even in fantastical worlds.

Of course, when I read the LOTR, everyone spoke with a Welsh accent, and it made perfect sense to me.

But why would an American audience watching an adaptation of Games of Thrones by an American author want to hear the voices of his characters in a fantasy world speak in British accents? I know for a fact that there are many regional dialects in the U.S. that could have worked for the characters in Game of Thrones — I mean, all the director of the series would have to do is buy a copy of the Dictionary of American Regional English to know that such accents exist.


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