On Fictional Immigrants, Accents & Why We Like What We Like

I’ve mentioned my love for Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) and his accent, on more than one occasion, but yesterday a thought occurred to me – a sort of, “Which came first? The chicken or the egg?” sort of question. I wondered, was it already pre-programmed within me to like accents and Ricky Ricardo just happened to be the first to ignite it? – Or was there something about Ricky Ricardo that created a preference for that specific quality?

Whether it’s accents or ice cream flavors, who can really say why we like what we like? Maybe a psychologist or brain specialist of some sort would be able to explain this better – I’m not really prepared to delve into that today, or probably ever.

What I do want to talk about are fictional immigrants in film and television, as well as actors putting on an accent which is not native to them, because these are stories and characters I’m very often drawn to. There’s a fine line between creating an authentic character and one that reinforces stereotypes, but I’ve had some favorites over the years. Here they are in no particular order.

Actor Bronson Pinchot played the very loveable Balki Bartokomous on the sitcom Perfect Strangers. Balki was supposed to be from a fictional island in the Mediterranean Sea called Mypos. Pinchot is an American actor born in New York.

Actor Tom Hanks played Viktor Navorski of the fictional country Krakozhia in the movie, The Terminal. Tom Hanks was originally born in California, and you probably already know what his regular speaking voice sounds like.

Actor Adhir Kalyan played Raja Musharaff, a Pakistani exchange student sent to live with a family in Wisconsin on the TV show Aliens in America. In real life, Adhir Kalyan was born in South Africa and speaks with a lovely South African accent.

Actor Naveen Andrews played Sayid Jarrah, an Iraqi character on the TV show LOST. Andrews was actually born in London, England and is of Indian heritage. His regular speaking voice is with a British accent.

Can you think of other actors who played characters from fictional countries or who put on an accent that wasn’t their own?

When Your Hijo is American…

allstate-commercial

While watching a game today, I discovered another company who made a great commercial worth sharing. It’s one of the “mala suerte” Allstate commercials, and in it, a Mexican father and his Mexican-American son are driving to the soccer stadium to go see a game… I don’t want to spoil it by giving too much away, so just check it out! Well done, Allstate!

(I actually wrote about this exact topic during the last World Cup. See the post HERE.)

Nuestro mundo diverso

chevrolet-cruze-eco-una-nueva-comunidad-spanish-large-2

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Viendo un partido de fútbol la otra noche, un comercial me llamó la atención.

En el comercial, un joven se despide de sus padres, diciendo: “Ella es americana, y él, mexicano.” Ya me interesaba porque es raro que una familia similar a la nuestra está representado en la televisión. (¡Hubiera sido aún mejor si el padre era salvadoreño! Sólo digo.) El resto de la comercial sigue mostrando su mundo diverso – una novia brasileña, un perro alemán, fútbol Español, etc. Realmente me encantó el mensaje y quería dar un “shout out” a Chevrolet para darles las gracias por reconocer toda la diversidad hermosa que llena nuestras vidas.

(Puedes ver el comercial aquí… y en inglés también.)

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Watching a soccer game the other evening, a commercial caught my attention.

In the commercial, a young man waves goodbye to his parents, saying “Ella es americana, y él, mexicano.” [She's American, he's Mexican.] Already I was interested because it is rare that a family similar to ours is represented on television. (It would have been even better if the father had been Salvadoran! Just saying.) The rest of the commercial goes on to show his diverse world – a Brazilian girlfriend, a German dog, Spanish soccer, etc. I really loved the message and wanted to give a “shout out” to Chevrolet – to thank them for recognizing all the beautiful diversity that fills our lives.

(You can see the commercial here… and in English too.)

America’s Secret Slang

Image source: screen capture of TV program "America's Secret Slang" on H2

Image source: screen capture of TV program “America’s Secret Slang” on H2

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

“Cuándo hablas inglés estadounidense, en realidad estás hablando todo tipo de lenguas extranjeras que vinieron de todo tipo de inmigrantes.” - Zach Selwyn, presentador del programa, “America’s Secret Slang”

¿Has visto el programa de televisión “America’s Secret Slang” en H2 – History Channel? Amantes de idiomas – es uno que debes ver!

Este episodio llamado “Coming to America” es mi favorito.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

“When you’re speaking American [English], you’re actually speaking all sorts of foreign languages that came from all sorts of immigrants.” – Zach Selwyn, host of TV program, America’s Secret Slang

Have you seen the show “America’s Secret Slang” on H2 – History Channel? Language lovers – it’s a must watch!

This episode called “Coming to America” is my favorite.

T.V. en Spanglish

inglesespanol

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Carlos estaba mirando la televisión y yo estaba escribiendo, cuando escuché este anuncio bilingüe. Yo grabé el anuncio para que todos ustedes pudieran verlo también. ¿Tal vez algún día todos los anuncios en los Estados Unidos serán bilingües?

¿Qué opinas tú? ¿Te gusta ver los anuncios de televisión bilingües más que los anuncios monolingües?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Carlos was watching television and I was writing, when I overheard this bilingual commercial. I videotaped the commercial so all of you can see, too. Maybe some day all commercials in the United States will be bilingual?

What do you think? Do you like to watch bilingual television advertisements more than monolingual advertisements?

Desi y Lucy en What’s My Line?

desiwhatsmyline

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Hoy descubrí videos de un programa de juegos de la década 1950 que se llama “What’s My Line?

En este juego, un panel de personas que están con los ojos vendados hacen preguntas para adivinar la identidad del invitado famoso.

Lucille Ball y Desi Arnaz ambos han aparecido en el programa y fueron divertidos como siempre. Me gustaría que este programa todavía existiría.

Desi

Lucy

Desi y Lucy

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Today I discovered videos of a game show from the early 1950’s called “What’s My Line?”

For this game, a panel of people who are blindfolded ask questions to guess the identity of the celebrity guest.

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz both have appeared on the program and were amusing as always. I wish this program still existed.

Welcome To The Family

welcometothefamilyNBC

Have you heard of the new show coming to NBC in October? “Welcome to the Family” is about what happens when Junior, a Latino high school graduate headed to Stanford University and Molly, his less goal-oriented gringa girlfriend, announce they’re pregnant. When the couple decides to get married, both families are forced to get along despite culture clashes.

“Welcome to the Family” premieres Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 at 8:30 Eastern/7:30 Central. In the meantime you can watch a full episode preview HERE.

Are you going to tune in?