Sunday 8 July 2012

Hotel Babylon

credit: BBC

Hotel Babylon is a TV drama commissioned by BBC One. In series 4 episode 6 the actress Alexandra Moen impersonating the PR manager of the hotel has to pretend to be a princess from the principality of Liechtenstein. She is required to say a few sentences/phrases in German as well as in English with a German accent.

Her first sentence is:
"I am  Princess Mariana of Liechtenstein and back home I have five pet pigs who share my bed ... [and after having been corrected by a bystander] ... pugs ...".
  1. The actress pronounces am with a glottal stop and she uses the strongform of the auxiliary; both features are typical of German speakers of English.(I'm not insinuating English doesn't have glottal stops.)
  2. In the word Liechtenstein the [ç] sounds pretty much like an inaudibly released [k], and the second syllable contains a schwa. A German speaker would normally replace the VC syllable by a syllabic [n̩]. Using a k-sound instead of the [ç] is typically English.
  3. back should be pronounced with an [ɛ] to sound genuinely Denglish; the actor uses an [æ] instead.
  4. The number five is pronounced without employing German word-final fortissification (= Auslautverhärtung); it should have been [faɪf], not [faɪˑv]. On the other hand, she does use Auslautverhärtung in pigs, although the i-vowel is too long
  5. The actress tries to imitate the difficulties many German speakers of English have with the DRESS-TRAP distinction. She's not quite successful in her pronunciations of back and bed however.

photo credit:
More in a future blog post.

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