‘Carthage must be destroyed’

The list of vaguely risible fanboy habits I share with heterosexualist males may hereby begin with the following: I adore Lynne Russell and everything she does!

Raven-haired woman in low-cut red blazer (also with visible captions)

The überglam karateka/newsreadtrix/vixentrix fatale was last seen in the mid-’90s modelling that week’s hair tint as she statuesquely delivered updates on CNN Headline News. After leaving the business, Russell moved to Canada with her husband. But now she’s back doing fill-in on CBC Newsworld and oh, mother of God am I excited! I tape her shows! I dissect her accent!

Canada’s mosaic approach to multiculturalism works better than the American melting-pot approach and there is one manifestation of the mosaic that may surprise you: We put people on TV who speak in accents. Yes, of course everybody has an accent, but I mean detectable accents. An interpreter often heard during news conferences and the like speaks British English. A hostess of a science show, who resembles a transvestite even more strongly than Russell does, is British. We had an Australian business newscastrix for a while, and a Newsworld weathercastrix is from New Zealand.

On-air diversity, while requiring improvement, can be seen and heard. American networks hire Canadians, whose accents seem pleasingly neutral (hence officially do not exist), but you scarcely ever find a detectable accent on American television. The Australians, despite their decades of institutional racism, are more in the Canadian model, as Norman Hermant, late of CBC, is now a reporter there. I have heard a vast range of newsreader and announcer accents in England.

But Russell’s accent surely is not undetectable. It fairly screams, and I don’t think it is my linguistics degree and my mild otaku for this shit that causes me to notice. She really sounds like an American, a fact I note but do not object to. Let’s transcribe a few examples, using, of course, International Phonetic Alphabet. Good luck getting your browser to display them.

  • Most disturbing is Russell’s mispronunciation of the title of an elected head of a province (and some territories), premier. It’s pronounced exactly one way, “preemyer,” a lesson only some recent U.S. ambassadors to Canada have bothered to learn. It is not pronounced in the various hodgepodges Americans use for that word and the related premiere (“premeer,” “premyare”). Russell pronounces it “primyeer[ˌprɪmˈjiːr] or “premeer
  • Back vowels (chiefly [aː][ɑː]), sort of like a Buffalonian: not, conflict (n.), economic, Ontario, jobs (also Jobs), Lebanon, dollar, technologies, solid, consolidate, Squamish (lots of stress on first syllable)
  • Ottawa [ˈɑːɾɘˌwɘ]
  • Saskatchewan (tricky to transcribe; much stress on final vowel) [sæsˌkæʧˈwɑːn]
  • No Canadian raising audible whatsoever (as in subtitles [ˌsʌbˈta͡ɪɾl̩z] – yes, she conveniently uttered that word)

Russell is also required to utter Canadianisms like “hydro” for electricity and “Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.” Then there was this humdinger, heard as I was writing this (2006.09.07 16:10): “How’s it gonna play with the American – ‘with the American.’ How’s it gonna play with the Canadian public?” Delightfully, that’s how!

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.09.07 15:16. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
http://blog.fawny.org/2006/09/07/lrdw/

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