Kevin Spacey grew up in California, but in
House of Cards, he plays a politician from South Carolina. “As we used to say in Gaffney…”
The first thing you’ll notice about Spacey’s accent when he’s playing Frank Underwood is
what happens to a lot of his Rs. “Money is the McMansion in Sarasota that starts falling
apart after 10 years. Power…” This is called r-dropping, and it’s a feature of several
well-known dialects. “He would rather the poor were poorer.” “The greatest wilderness
on Earth.” “In the tradition of bipartisanship.” “Metropolitan Museum of Art.” But it’s also
associated with the upper class of the plantation South. “This war talk’s spoiling all the fun
at every party this spring.” R-dropping emerged as kind of an affectation among posh people
in southern Britain in the 18th century — the English didn’t always talk that way. And then
it spread to elites on the East Coast of the US. At the same time, r-dropping was a feature
of the creole and West African languages spoken by some of the slaves in the South and their
descendants. But after World War II, new generations of white Southerners essentially abandoned
r-dropping, so today you’ll see it mostly in the very oldest generation, or more frequently
with African-American speakers from the South. Take Lindsey Graham as an example. Like Kevin
Spacey’s character, Graham is from the northern part of South Carolina, and his Rs are largely
intact. “going to sell the oil to another customer.” And that may be because language
in the Southern Appalachian areas was influenced by settlers from Ireland, where people aren’t
exactly shy with their Rs. “Seriously. Serious. How close does that sound to the Kentucky
accent where they talk like that and I’m talking like this?” Regardless, R-dropping probably
can’t be the shortcut that white actors use to sound Southern in the future. Instead,
the main feature that unites Southern dialects is something called /ay/-ungliding. For people
outside the South, this vowel has two parts. You can probably feel your tongue shifting
as you say the word “buy.” But in Southern speech, /ay/ is a one-part vowel in many cases,
sounding more like ah than ay. “Five” “and livelihoods” “terrified.” But there’s an important
distinction here that Northerners might not be aware of. Most Southerners only do ay-ungliding
before what’s called voiced consonants, or at the end of a word. The difference between
voiced and voiceless consonants is whether your vocal chords vibrate when you say them,
and ay-ungliding before voiceless consonants is stereotyped in the South as a less-educated
way of speaking. “But I don’t want your life.” Ay-ungliding triggers a shift in the vowels,
or in the space in the mouth where the vowels are formed. The ey-sound shifts lower in the
mouth. “And then blame somebody else.” The eh-sound moves forward to the front of the
mouth. “Just as strong and opinionated as men.” As do the vowels pronounced in the back
of the mouth like go and boot. “Thank you.” These vowel shifts occur to different degrees
in different parts of the South, and they’re certainly fading in cities where there’s a
lot of migration and generational change. But if you’re an actor from the North or the
West, the vowels are really the key to sounding Southern.

Why Kevin Spacey’s accent in House of Cards sounds off
Tagged on:                                                                                                                                                             

100 thoughts on “Why Kevin Spacey’s accent in House of Cards sounds off

  • April 27, 2018 at 12:25 pm
    Permalink

    It's cause Kevin Spacey is off

    Reply
  • May 4, 2018 at 1:42 am
    Permalink

    This… has not aged well….

    Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 2:25 am
    Permalink

    Vaht

    Reply
  • May 11, 2018 at 11:40 am
    Permalink

    As a Spaniard I don't get the differences as much as native speakers I think.

    Reply
  • May 16, 2018 at 4:02 am
    Permalink

    steve irwin feat aw

    Reply
  • May 18, 2018 at 4:45 pm
    Permalink

    0:24 she is the worst woman in human history

    Reply
  • May 21, 2018 at 1:58 am
    Permalink

    He’s a pedo

    Reply
  • May 28, 2018 at 12:55 am
    Permalink

    The Southern Accent runs through Central Florida

    Reply
  • May 28, 2018 at 10:13 am
    Permalink

    He just doing anglo normen

    Reply
  • May 30, 2018 at 12:11 pm
    Permalink

    Cockney's don't pronounce their "r"s either.

    Reply
  • May 30, 2018 at 8:35 pm
    Permalink

    I didn't find his accent "bizarre" at all

    Reply
  • June 2, 2018 at 3:49 pm
    Permalink

    maybe bc hes a rapist?

    Reply
  • June 2, 2018 at 4:35 pm
    Permalink

    I always thought his accent sounded more like New Orleans

    Reply
  • June 3, 2018 at 9:14 pm
    Permalink

    I literally learnt all this in linguistics like a month ago and in still just as confused

    Reply
  • June 4, 2018 at 6:11 am
    Permalink

    There’s a lot about him that’s a little off

    Reply
  • June 4, 2018 at 4:43 pm
    Permalink

    He took on that role thinking he could deliver a believable accent, but I guess you could say Kevin was Kid-ding himself

    Reply
  • June 5, 2018 at 4:27 am
    Permalink

    Accents are so overrated i don't know why people care about what a one is pronouncing R or whatever.

    Reply
  • June 5, 2018 at 6:28 pm
    Permalink

    well this is awkward

    Reply
  • June 9, 2018 at 10:00 am
    Permalink

    And now look at him

    Reply
  • June 14, 2018 at 6:44 am
    Permalink

    interesting fact ! Thank you for the video

    Reply
  • June 16, 2018 at 5:13 pm
    Permalink

    Cuz he's a sodomite perv?

    Reply
  • June 17, 2018 at 3:13 am
    Permalink

    His accent is off because he's nervous someone will find the kids in his basement

    Reply
  • June 18, 2018 at 3:51 am
    Permalink

    I lived in Gaffney, SC as a kid, and I heard people drop their R's all the time.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2018 at 7:27 pm
    Permalink

    coz he's a nonce

    Reply
  • June 27, 2018 at 1:02 am
    Permalink

    There are many inaccuracies in Hollywood's portrayal of the South. I don't think they're going to update the accent any time soon.

    Reply
  • July 7, 2018 at 4:46 am
    Permalink

    rutro scooby

    Reply
  • July 21, 2018 at 6:32 pm
    Permalink

    As a Southerner I've heard only a few actors pull it off. It's Scarlett O'Hara, Aunt Jemima or Colonel Sanders. The key is the "i" sound, The long "i" changes to a kind of "ah" (five vs "fahve") and the short "i" becomes a soft of "ee + uh" (all in a single tone). Spacey got several things right and never sounded really "off" Bill Clinton is real, Hillary's fake accent for politics is not.

    BUT it must be noted – Southern speech varies widely. Virginia is as different from Mississippi as it is Ohio. Kentucky & South Carolina sound nothing alike. Hollywood mixed "twang" (Texas, Appalachia, etc) with dialect. And theres a racial component – almost all blacks talk "Southern" as far as vowels go.

    Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 9:26 pm
    Permalink

    Because he’s a shitty overrated actor

    Reply
  • July 28, 2018 at 2:21 am
    Permalink

    too bad hes a MF rapist dog

    Reply
  • July 30, 2018 at 7:57 pm
    Permalink

    1:28 SCOTCH-Irish settlements. Yup, in the 18th century there were Irish scotch settling in the Americas… fact checked that and it's actually completely totally undeniably verifiably true. (!)

    Reply
  • August 2, 2018 at 1:33 pm
    Permalink

    JFK had the best R-dropping. He also dropped his pants quite a bit too.

    Reply
  • August 11, 2018 at 12:26 am
    Permalink

    well… this video hasn't aged well

    Reply
  • August 14, 2018 at 5:23 am
    Permalink

    Berkeley…poor man's Harvard.

    Reply
  • August 21, 2018 at 10:09 pm
    Permalink

    00:45 "Lmao what is this pleb doing here"

    Reply
  • September 1, 2018 at 8:34 pm
    Permalink

    the contrast of 0:57 and 0:58…

    Reply
  • September 1, 2018 at 11:43 pm
    Permalink

    Kevin Spacey's accent doesn't sound off at all! That type of non rhotic southern accent is common in the tidewater region of Virginia, as well as in alot of Louisiana. It also used to be common in the Carolinas and Georgia too! People have spoken like that before and to an extent, still do! I'm a younger southerner who drops alot of his Rs

    Reply
  • September 13, 2018 at 11:03 am
    Permalink

    The only places in the south you really hear R’s dropped is in Savannah and Charleston. And it’s mostly by elderly or older people.

    Reply
  • September 23, 2018 at 4:59 am
    Permalink

    Linguistics is SO fascinating (if you're a language nerd like me). I learned to speak in Buffalo/Rochester upstate NY but moved often as a kid. I lived in NC for a number of years as an adult and got to know the South a bit. There are so many regional sounds in the South (and all over the US of course), and I really hate bad "Southern accents" by actors (eg: Liz Taylor in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and Charles Laughton in "Advise & Consent"). I think the WORST version of a Southern accent ever was Robert De Niro in the remake of "Cape Fear"; he was almost unintelligible. I heard a radio piece a few years ago about a famed dialect coach in NYC, considered one of the best in the acting biz, and she was responsible for De Niro's dialect in Cape Fear. All I could think was "FAIL!!" (tho some good actors just aren't very good at dialects [see: Harvey Keitel!], so maybe it wasn't all the dialect coach's fault)

    Reply
  • September 23, 2018 at 7:08 am
    Permalink

    I seemed to understand something, the second time round I watched, it was confusingly explanatory, but then I thought: what does Kevin Spacey smile so hard, when he himself is explained as Northern?

    Reply
  • September 29, 2018 at 1:05 pm
    Permalink

    So basically African slaves talked like this because of their African accent, then their overseers started talking that way too. Then, other middle class people started modeling it because only the "elite" slave plantation owners talked like that. The "lower" classes wanted to impress and seem more wealthy to others.

    So it all started in vain because plantation owners unknowingly picked up on their slaves' accents, then other people started copying the plantations owners to seem wealthier.

    Interesting how things come to be.

    Reply
  • November 1, 2018 at 3:47 am
    Permalink

    What a legend.

    Reply
  • November 10, 2018 at 12:20 pm
    Permalink

    House of Cards Season 6(2018) Review :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILl3Y9Ofwo4

    Reply
  • November 15, 2018 at 1:41 am
    Permalink

    dropped r's like how he dropped loads onto kids

    Reply
  • November 20, 2018 at 9:32 pm
    Permalink

    What is the sort of Chicago sort of Canadian accent called ?

    Reply
  • November 21, 2018 at 8:45 am
    Permalink

    The current mayor of Houston has a habit of dropping his r's

    Reply
  • November 25, 2018 at 7:19 am
    Permalink

    It's weird to go through the back catalogue of Box and see quality content. What happened to you guys?

    Reply
  • November 27, 2018 at 1:51 pm
    Permalink

    Why vox makes content anyone neither needs nor deserves

    Reply
  • November 28, 2018 at 8:09 am
    Permalink

    spacey is a good actor, wish his star wasn’t taken away

    Reply
  • December 10, 2018 at 5:08 am
    Permalink

    I thought this was an interesting video and then I realized it was Vox, so more of it started sounding like weird, slightly off, bullshit.

    Reply
  • December 15, 2018 at 6:00 am
    Permalink

    I notice I’m from Georgia near Athens and it’s seems that just my ken talk with the draw and none of my generation do it’s only the older people I really hope we don’t lose our tongues y’all

    Reply
  • December 15, 2018 at 5:39 pm
    Permalink

    bring back non rhoticisms!

    Reply
  • January 2, 2019 at 11:47 pm
    Permalink

    The accent Kevin Spacey used in House of Cards is not off at all! The non rhoticity is primarily found in the elderly in most areas of the south, but in Louisiana and to an extent Virginia, there's plenty of younger people who drop their Rs! Also, though most southerners today largely rhotic, most drop their Rs every now and again. Plus, you can't generalize all southern accents into one large monolith! There's greater New Orleans accents which are basically like non-rhotic New York accents with some southern features, there's your standard stereotypical hillbilly accent, and everything in between.

    Reply
  • January 14, 2019 at 3:19 am
    Permalink

    As a South Carolinian, the accent really doesn't make much sense to me. It also doesn't help that I don't have much of a Southern accent at all, But the ay-ungliding is something I hear quite a lot.
    Would've been a nicer touch, Frank doesn't sound like Kevin, and it's so offputing

    Reply
  • January 24, 2019 at 7:44 am
    Permalink

    I came here with curiosity and now I’m just confused.

    Reply
  • January 29, 2019 at 10:53 pm
    Permalink

    Love this

    Reply
  • February 8, 2019 at 5:00 pm
    Permalink

    This video hasn't aged well. Here in 2019 Spacey and Neeson are not very popular anymore

    Reply
  • February 16, 2019 at 4:53 am
    Permalink

    Okay Bo what do you mean by are dropping I don't get your argument but you put a lot of effort on it too.

    Reply
  • February 26, 2019 at 6:05 am
    Permalink

    I don't think the accent Kevin spacey used in House of Cards is off, it's that the particular CharlestonChahleston accent isn't as common as it used to be.

    The non rhoticity is primarily found in the elderly, except in parts of Louisiana and the tidewater region of Virginia, where the younger southerners have non-rhoticity as well.

    The accent Kevin spacey used in House of Cards is actually pretty accurate for his age group, as that's the age group that generally has the stereotypical Charleston Savannah type accent.

    You really can't generalize when it comes to southern American accents as there's just so many of them! There's the non-rhotic Savannah Charleston type accent that's almost exclusive to the elderly natives of these areas, there's the non-rhotic Cajun and New Orleans accents which even younger people have that sort of combines some features of New York City accents with southern accents, there's the vast majority of southern accents which are semi-rhotic or largely rhotic, the stereotypical hillbilly accents of the Appalachians, Texas accents, etc.

    Reply
  • March 5, 2019 at 11:11 am
    Permalink

    because he's gay

    Reply
  • March 29, 2019 at 9:48 pm
    Permalink

    OK I get the R dropping and stuff but what’s about his emphasis on the H?😂

    Reply
  • April 30, 2019 at 10:53 pm
    Permalink

    I speak English fluently as my second language but I don't get the difference in accents except some exceptions that are obvious to anyone.
    I think that you've done a video about this

    Reply
  • May 18, 2019 at 9:44 am
    Permalink

    Kevin the rapist

    Reply
  • May 23, 2019 at 5:30 am
    Permalink

    My girlfriend’s landlord who she lives with sounds like that. Her landlord lives in a small farming community 45 min outside Charleston

    Reply
  • May 27, 2019 at 9:08 pm
    Permalink

    2:00 "Alrahd alrahd alrahd"

    Reply
  • May 31, 2019 at 3:40 am
    Permalink

    I love linguistics ~

    Reply
  • June 4, 2019 at 1:19 pm
    Permalink

    😭😭😭😭

    Reply
  • June 5, 2019 at 6:45 am
    Permalink

    But it never sounded "off" in the first place.

    Reply
  • July 15, 2019 at 8:23 am
    Permalink

    Press F to pay respects

    Only Call Of Duty AW fans will understand
    Or if you played all the game at least

    Reply
  • July 15, 2019 at 4:32 pm
    Permalink

    Greatest accents in politics, Tywin Lannister, Cersei, Roose Bolton, Michael Corleone and of course Frank underwood

    Reply
  • July 21, 2019 at 2:49 am
    Permalink

    My late husband came home from visiting his family in Boston one time. First day home he said: "I need my shots." ME: "Why do you need shots!? Are you okay? (something like that…I was worried in any case because he said he need his "shots". He said: "No, my shots", then walked out of his closet with his shoRts! We laughed for years recalling that. 🙂

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 2:06 pm
    Permalink

    R-dropping was also popular in french society After the french revolution. The R of R-evolution was dropped during the directoire to denounce the murders during "La terreur"

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 6:34 pm
    Permalink

    What’s the meaning of Sound off?

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 12:46 am
    Permalink

    He is having COD AW flashbacks.

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 9:08 am
    Permalink

    Classic buzzfeed-esque video. Hardly any useful information, but tones of additives and cheery background music.

    Reply
  • August 13, 2019 at 9:31 am
    Permalink

    This is too much information for anybody

    Reply
  • August 14, 2019 at 10:44 pm
    Permalink

    MAybe because he likes young boys..?

    Reply
  • August 14, 2019 at 10:46 pm
    Permalink

    In Russian we do the opposite of R dropping.

    Reply
  • August 15, 2019 at 1:09 am
    Permalink

    First, there isn't a single Southern dialect. Texas isn't Mississippi. NW Arkansas doesn't sound like Baton Rogue or Mobile sound like Western NC. The Delta is different than folks who grew up in the mountains. And yes, it is heavily influenced by the Scots-Irish or English. Even in families, my sister has a much stronger "country" sound than I do. I find nothing wrong with Frank Underwood's somewhat effected speech which is more syrupy in personal dealings than in his public speaking. But if you don't think Clinton, Gore, and George W. lay it on heavy when they're "back home," you don't understand either the South or politicians.

    Reply
  • August 15, 2019 at 9:42 am
    Permalink

    MAARCUS SMAAAHT

    Reply
  • August 15, 2019 at 12:27 pm
    Permalink

    I thought it sounded off just because it was bad.

    Reply
  • August 15, 2019 at 7:21 pm
    Permalink

    He was good in the series. Nothing was off

    Reply
  • August 15, 2019 at 10:06 pm
    Permalink

    More like KeBRUHn Spacey

    Reply
  • August 16, 2019 at 11:32 am
    Permalink

    House of card was great when Spacey was they around

    Reply
  • August 17, 2019 at 3:27 pm
    Permalink

    I am from Kazakhstan and I don't really understand… what I'm doing here )
    I just love Kevin Spacey and happy they dropped charges against him!
    Underwood 2020!

    Reply
  • August 18, 2019 at 10:13 am
    Permalink

    Thank you for explaining this, now I’m really confused

    Reply
  • August 18, 2019 at 1:40 pm
    Permalink

    This did not age well at all

    Reply
  • August 18, 2019 at 7:44 pm
    Permalink

    I am so confused

    Reply
  • August 20, 2019 at 6:33 pm
    Permalink

    Why is this in my recommended in 2019

    Reply
  • August 21, 2019 at 4:07 am
    Permalink

    This aged well, like milk in a unplugged fridge.

    Reply
  • September 1, 2019 at 2:46 pm
    Permalink

    And for a non-american like me… You are all cowboys/yankees!!

    Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 4:28 pm
    Permalink

    Another funny thing related with the Southern accents is "double negativity", i.e. "I'm not feeling good either." VS "I'm not feeling good neither."

    Reply
  • September 4, 2019 at 4:12 am
    Permalink

    Lol. Look at how indians rrrrumba their Rs. For us all Americans are dropping their Rs

    Reply
  • September 4, 2019 at 6:45 am
    Permalink

    Still love the way he talks tho💞

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 2:31 am
    Permalink

    I know him in call of duty advance warfare

    Reply
  • September 13, 2019 at 6:07 pm
    Permalink

    this video didn't age well

    Reply
  • September 19, 2019 at 5:08 pm
    Permalink

    "Vox seriously", thats what I thought when I saw the title

    Reply
  • December 5, 2019 at 6:05 pm
    Permalink

    As a foreigner i absolutely don't get what youre talking about xD

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *