The joy of foreign accent

The most recent Dilbert has Dogbert proposing a foreign accent school for easing the tasks of daily life:

Not the first time someone has thought of this idea. It was a repeated joke on the Prairie Home Companion tv show.

Apparently, early in this century, PHC had ads for Bud’s Accent School. But then in 2005 came the master-stroke, the St. Paul College of Accents (SPCA), which burst onto the scene on 2/19/05. From the transcript (in which accented English is indicated in all-caps: MINN (Minnesotan), FRENCH, ITALIAN, GERMAN, etc.):

Garrison Keillor: …brought to you by the St. Paul College of Accents. Why spend years learning a foreign language just well enough to sound stupid to a whole new bunch of people when, in two weeks, you can pick up a foreign accent that will give you an aura of mystery and romance right here in America where it matters? If you’ve been cursed with a midwestern accent —

Tim Russell (MINN): Boy, I don’t know about this weather we’ve been having — kind of makes you wonder, don’t it — I suppose it could be worse, but boy, I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to get outdoors—

GK: You know that a midwestern accent is like wearing a sign on your back that says, “Slow Person Ahead” — but now you can be somebody else as easily as you’d change your shirt —

TR: (FRENCH) Bon soir, mon cher. I am Robert, I have been looking forward to this evening for months and months — can I get you a glass of wine?

GK: Suddenly people turn — women smile — their eyes light up. A European in the room.

TR: (ITALIAN) Buono notte, mama mia — I am Roberto — that navy blue sweater — it looks fantastic on you — bella, bella— let me get you a glass of wine, what do you say? Let’s go where we can talk and be alone…..

GK: You become a figure of romance. Or a tower of intelligence.

TR: (GERMAN) There are different ways of looking at the situation — there is the (GERMAN) and then there is the (GERMAN)— it’s like Wittgenstein once said, (GERMAN)

GK: Why learn a little bit of one language when you can learn four, six, even twelve different accents — to suit any mood you’re in:

TR: (IRISH) Top o’the mornin’ to ye, and what a glorious mornin’ it is too, Mary, me proud beauty!

GK: A midwestern accent means that every time you open your mouth, people think, “Good person if you need help loading a truck but otherwise not too swift” — maybe you need a new accent.

TR (MINN): Well, you know, that’s a darn good point. I never thought of that before.

GK: Register at the St. Paul College of Accents today and get the second accent absolutely free.

Then on 10/4/08 we got “Earl’s Academy of Accents. In the yellow pages under Affectation.”

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