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March 3, 2015 4:32 pm  #1


Sherlock on Mary's accent means...?

A quick question for those among you with native and near-native command of English, because the distinctions are too subtle for me.

"By your skill set, you are, or were, an intelligence agent; your accent is currently English but I suspect you are not."

Judging just from his choice of words, does he mean he suspects she is not a native speaker of English, or, as I think, that she is a native speaker of English from some place other than England? (America would make sense if Magnussen is to be believed about "all those wet jobs for the CIA", though it doesn't necessarily follow. Ireland would be interesting.)

 

March 3, 2015 4:40 pm  #2


Re: Sherlock on Mary's accent means...?

Interesting.  Never thought of this but I do suppose it could go either way.


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March 3, 2015 4:49 pm  #3


Re: Sherlock on Mary's accent means...?

I think he means accent rather than language - that she sounds as if she's English, but that's not her nationality.  She could be from anywhere (either English-speaking or not English-speaking) - I think it's the accent he's querying rather than whether it's her first language.  (The CIA suggests that she might at least have a US connection). 

 

March 3, 2015 9:06 pm  #4


Re: Sherlock on Mary's accent means...?

I've not read any ACD yet (well, half of A Study in Scarlet), but I seem to recall reading somewhere that his Mary character is American?


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March 3, 2015 9:26 pm  #5


Re: Sherlock on Mary's accent means...?

No, Irene Adler was American in the ACD canon. Mary was English.

(I don't recall offhand if she was raised in India, or lived there for a while. I'll have to go look that up. Oh, the hardship... ;) )

Last edited by REReader (March 3, 2015 9:28 pm)


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March 4, 2015 2:52 pm  #6


Re: Sherlock on Mary's accent means...?

Liberty wrote:

I think he means accent rather than language - that she sounds as if she's English, but that's not her nationality.  She could be from anywhere (either English-speaking or not English-speaking) - I think it's the accent he's querying rather than whether it's her first language.  (The CIA suggests that she might at least have a US connection). 

Yes. I'll try to be clearer, because I thik he refers to both in this sentence, separately. I think "your accent is currently English but I suspect you are not" can be paraphrased "I suspect that you are not English" (so far so good), "although your accent IS English AT THE MOMENT" (but, by contrast with "currently", "it used to be not-English". And the part I have doubts about is: what does it mean, in fluent idiomatic British English, to say or imply (cause he does) that somebody's accent was not English? That they spoke English with a French / Russian / Slovak / Burmese / whatever accent, or that they speak English with an American / Scottish / New Zealand / Australian accent?

(Sherlock could infer things about her not being English from other data, as he did with Frankland, but accent is all he mentions here, so.)

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March 4, 2015 6:44 pm  #7


Re: Sherlock on Mary's accent means...?

I'm sorry, it was me who wasn't clear!   Actually, it's rather odd, because I think most Brits don't think of a generic English accent, but a collection of different English accents (Scouse, Geordie, Mackem, Cockney, etc.).  If I said somebody didn't have an English accent it could mean they could have any other accent (whether or not the accent was from an English-speaking country, so all of your possibilities above - Scottish, French, etc.).  But it could also mean no distinguishable accent. 

I agree that he refers to both (language/nationality, and accent) in the same sentence!  Meaning you sound English (accent), but you aren't English (nationality). 

(I feel that he's implying that she's faking an "English" (i.e. from England) accent, rather than that she just happened to pick one up while she was here.  But I could be wrong).

 

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