English accents in Game of Thrones

    The eighth season of the cult series “Game of Thrones” has already started and it will soon become clear who will sit on the Iron Throne and who will fall in the struggle for it.

    In high-budget series and films, special attention is paid to the little things. Attentive viewers who watch the series in the original noticed that the characters speak with different accents of the English language.

    Let's see what accents the characters of the Game of Thrones say and what the accents have in the storytelling.

    Why do fantasy movies speak British English?

    Indeed, in almost all fantasy movies, characters speak British English.

    For example, in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, some of the main actors were not British (Elijah Wood is an American, Viggo Mortensen is a Dane, Liv Tyler is an American, and director Peter Jackson is a New Zealander). But with all this, the characters speak with British accents.

    The Game of Thrones is even more interesting. He starred as an American director for the American public, but all the same, all the key characters speak British English.

    Directors use this trick to create the impression of a completely different world for viewers. Indeed, if viewers from New York will watch a fantasy film in which the characters speak with a New York accent, then there will be no sense of magic.

    But we will not delay, we will pass directly to the accents of the heroes of the Game of Thrones.

    In the series, the residents of Westeros speak British English. At the same time, accents are characteristic of real English accents. For example, the north of Westeros speaks with North English accents, and the south with South English accents.

    Characters from other continents speak with foreign accents. This approach was quite strongly criticized by linguists, because despite the fact that the emphasis played an important role, even members of the same family could speak with different accents. For example, Starkey.

    Starkey and John Snow

    The Stark House rules north of Westeros. And Starks speak with a North English accent, mostly Yorkshire.

    This accent is best seen in Eddard Stark, nicknamed Ned. The role of the character was played by actor Sean Bean, who is the bearer of the Yorkshire dialect, because he was born and spent his childhood in Sheffield.

    Therefore, he did not need to make any special efforts to portray the emphasis. He just spoke in his usual language.

    Features of the Yorkshire accent are manifested mainly in the pronunciation of vowels.

    • Words like blood, cut, strut are pronounced through [ʊ], not through [ə], just like in the words hood, look.
    • Rounding the sound [a], which becomes more like [ɑː]. In Ned’s phrase “What do you want” in the words “want” and “what”, the sound is closer to [o] than in standard English.
    • The endings of the words city, key are lengthened and turn into [eɪ].

    The emphasis is quite melodic and is perceived well by ear. This is one of the reasons why the Starks used it, and not, for example, Scottish.

    Differences in vowel pronunciation between the Yorkshire dialect and RP are noticeable:

    Other members of House Stark also speak with a Yorkshire accent. But for the actors who played John Snow and Robb Stark, this is not a native accent. Richard Madden (Robb) is a Scot and Keith Harrington (John) is a Londoner. In conversations, they copied the emphasis on Sean Bean, so some critics complain about the incorrect pronunciation of individual sounds.

    However, this is almost inaudible to the ordinary viewer. You can check it yourself.

    It is noteworthy that Arya and Sansa Stark, the daughters of Ned Stark, speak not of a Yorkshire accent, but of the so-called "posh accent" or aristocratic accent.

    It is pretty close to Received Pronunciation, so it is often confused with RP. But in “posh accent” words are pronounced more smoothly, and diphthongs and triftones are often smoothed into one continuous sound.

    For example, the word “quiet” will sound like “qu-ah-t.” The trifthong [aɪə] is flattened to one long [ɑː]. The same is in the word powerful. Instead of [ˈpaʊəfʊl] with the trifthong [aʊə], the word will sound like [ˈpɑːfʊl].

    Native English often say that “posh” sounds like you are speaking RP with a plum in your mouth.

    You can trace the features of speech in the dialogue of Arya and Sansa. Accent differs from classical RP only in elongated with some vowels and smoother diphthongs and trifthongs.


    Lannister House speaks pure RP English. In theory, this should reflect the wealth and high position of the house in Vasteras.

    PR is exactly that standard accent that is studied in English schools. In fact, this is the emphasis of the south of England, which during the development of the language lost its distinctive features and was adopted as standardized.

    Tywin and Cersei Lannister speak a pure RP, with no signs of any other emphasis, as befits a ruling family.

    True, some Lannisters had problems with an emphasis. For example, Nikolai Koster-Waldau, who played the role of Jaime Lannister, was born in Denmark and speaks English with a noticeable Danish accent. In the series, this is almost not noticeable, but sometimes sounds slip that are uncharacteristic for RP.

    The emphasis of Tyrion Lannister can not be called RP, although in theory it should be there. The fact of the matter is that Peter Dinklage was born and raised in New Jersey, therefore he speaks rather specific American English.

    It was difficult for him to readjust to British English, so in the lines he deliberately controls the accent, making wide pauses between the phrases. However, he did not quite succeed in completely transferring the RP. Although this does not detract from his excellent acting.

    You can appreciate how Peter Dinklage speaks in real life. Significant difference with the hero of the series, right?

    Noteworthy accents of other characters The

    World of Game of Thrones is a little wider than Westeros alone. The characters of free cities and other locations beyond the Narrow Sea also have interesting accents. As we mentioned earlier, the director of the series decided to give the inhabitants of the Essos continent foreign accents, which are quite different from classical English.

    The character of Sirio Forel, a master swordsman from Braavos, was played by Londoner Miltos Erolima, who in real life speaks a received pronunciation. But in the series, his character speaks with a Mediterranean accent. Particularly noticeable is how Sirio speaks the sound [r]. Not soft English [r], in which the tongue does not touch the palate, but solid Spanish, in which the tongue must vibrate.

    Yaken Hgar, a criminal from Lorat, he is also a faceless from Braavos. He has a rather noticeable German accent. Softened consonants, as if with a soft sign where it should not be, the long vowels [a:] and [i:] turn into short [ʌ] and [i].

    Some phrases even show the influence of German grammar in constructing sentences.

    The thing is that Tom Vlashikha, who played the role of Khgar, hails from Germany. He really speaks English with such an emphasis in real life, so he did not have to portray him.

    Melisandra, played by Karis van Houten, spoke with a Dutch accent. The actress is from the Netherlands, so there was no problem with the accent. The sound [o] the actress often conveys as [ø] (sounds like [ё] in the word "honey"). However, this is one of the few features of the Dutch accent that can be seen in the speech of the actress.

    In general, the accents of the English language give the series its richness. This is a really good solution to show the size of the Game of Thrones world and the differences between people who live in different areas and on different continents.

    Even though some linguists are unhappy, we will express our opinion. “Game of Thrones” is a huge large-budget project, the creation of which must take into account tens of thousands of little things.

    Emphasis is a trifle, but it plays an important role in the atmosphere of the film. And even if there are flaws, the final result is excellent.

    And the actions of the actors once again confirm that if you want, you can talk on absolutely any accent of the language - just pay enough attention to the preparation. And the experience of EnglishDom teachers confirms this.

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