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Reading: The Role of Accent as a Class Marker in the James Bond Films

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The Role of Accent as a Class Marker in the James Bond Films

Author:

Alex Baratta

GB
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Abstract

The cinematic character of James Bond suggests an identity, partly at least, of an "English gentleman". Subsequent connotations, even if somewhat dated, nonetheless imply Bond as being a member of the upper-class, a group for whom there still exists, even in modern-day Britain, a degree of cultural capital. One defining feature within Britain regarding one's class background is accent, an oral ID which allows speakers to reveal their class level and have interlocutors ascribe such to them. The connotations of class, for positive or negative, are subsequently placed on to the accent and in turn, the speaker. Received Pronunciation (RP) is an accent which immediately signifies its speakers as members of the upper-class, and while the six Bond actors to date have used a variety of RP-influenced accents, broad, regional accents have not been used, being largely incompatible with the cinematic character of 007.

 

This article explores accent within British society and its role within the Bond films, as a linguistic means to define the character. Specifically, the paper argues that a) accents perceived as "posh" – which are fitting for the character of 007 – can exhibit a variety of forms, but by avoiding broad, regional accents – those perceived as "common" – Bond will be perceived as exhibiting cultural, and linguistic, capital; and b) subsequently, the character, regardless of past and future changes regarding the various renditions, exhibits what is argued to be a rather essentialist feature: a member of the elite, effected through accent.

How to Cite: Baratta, A. (2022). The Role of Accent as a Class Marker in the James Bond Films. International Journal of James Bond Studies, 5(1). DOI: http://doi.org/10.24877/jbs.77
Published on 01 May 2022.
Peer Reviewed

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