The Linguistics Behind Kevin Spacey’s Southern Accent in House of Cards: A Quick Primer

Let’s take Kevin Spacey’s south­ern accent on the Net­flix series House of Cards, and use it as a spring­board for explor­ing the lin­guis­tics of that often times charm­ing region­al accent, shall we? In the video above, cre­at­ed by Vox, we learn all about “ay-unglid­ding.” And “r‑dropping,” that ever dis­tinc­tive fea­ture of the South­ern accent that orig­i­nat­ed in Eng­land.

The clip was made with the help of uni­ver­si­ty lin­guists — Den­nis Pre­ston at Okla­homa State Uni­ver­si­ty; Robin Dodsworth at North Car­oli­na State Uni­ver­si­ty; and Kirk Hazen at West Vir­ginia Uni­ver­si­ty. To learn more about how well Kevin Spacey mas­ters the accent (and where he falls short), head over to Vox.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Nine Imper­son­ations by Kevin Spacey in Six Min­utes

The Ideas of Noam Chom­sky: An Intro­duc­tion to His The­o­ries on Lan­guage & Knowl­edge (1977)

Phi­los­o­phy with a South­ern Drawl: Rick Rod­er­ick Teach­es Der­ri­da, Fou­cault, Sartre and Oth­ers

Learn 48 Lan­guages Online for Free: Span­ish, Chi­nese, Eng­lish & More

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  • Catherine says:

    Scot­tish and some Irish peo­ple set­tled much of mid­dle South, espe­cial­ly the moun­tain­ous areas. THIS is where the hard “r” comes from.
    There is no one South­ern accent — there are many.

  • Pat says:

    Kevin may fall short in some areas but over­all, he is the best non-south­ern south­ern actor out there. I think he nails it.

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