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Peter Serafinowicz has updated George Bernard Shaw's dictum that "It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him", by re-voicing Donald Trump to demonstrate that emotional reactions to British accents are easily evoked in Americans as well. There's "Sophisticated Trump", posted on YouTube 12/17/2015:

And there's Cockney "Donald Thump", posted on YouTube 1/28/2016:

There's also "Sophisticated Trump 2: Barbara Walters", posted on YouTube 12/20/2015:

But it seems less effective, and has accordingly gotten fewer views.


  1. Phillip Minden said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 6:52 am

    I'm not sure I understand. Are these supposed to stress repulsiveness? I'd have thought they're just plain fun, "look – that works".

  2. Logo said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 8:37 am

    I don't undestand either.

    "demonstrate that emotional reactions to British accents are easily evoked in Americans as well"
    I don't think that it's Trump's accent that provokes hate or disdain. And those accents cause more hilarity than hate… (and it's not really hilarious by the way)

    So could you elaborate about what it demonstrates ?

  3. Peter said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 9:06 am

    Accents aside, there’s an interesting plural at 0:49 of the first “Sophisticated Trump” video: “one of the worst secretary of states in the history of this country”. Assuming it follows Trump’s original words, is it an error, or an established jargon form?

  4. Veronica said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 12:26 pm

    Well, I was horrified at how well the trick worked on me. As an American whose knowledge of British English mostly comes from the BBC, I associate certain English accents with high social class and education. I was shocked at how much smarter Trump immediately sounded to me when he said the same silly things he says all the time in a higher-class accent.

  5. Phillip Minden said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 12:32 pm

    That was part of my question: is it supposed to sound better, more educated, of higher social status, sophisticated? Or snotty, evil etc.?

  6. Lance said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 1:00 pm

    is it supposed to sound better, more educated, of higher social status, sophisticated? Or snotty, evil etc.?

    Perhaps "supposed to" is the wrong question here. I found it an interesting experiment in the extent to which, to borrow a phrase, the medium is the message. Do you have exactly the same reaction to New York Donald Trump as to British Donald Trump? If not, why not?

    (Personally, I found it much easier to nod along to BDT and think, "Yes, I see" than I do with NYDT. But I think some of that also has to do with the change in rhythm–NYDT is much more staccato, for lack of a better word.)

    [(myl) FWIW, my reaction was the opposite — I thought that BDT sounded arrogant and obnoxious in a way that NYDT doesn't, at least not indexed by performance as opposed to script. And Cockney DT sounds brutal and vulgar to me, again in a performance-indexed way. But it's clear that people have different reactions to these particular evocations of stereotypes.]

  7. Zeppelin said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 1:46 pm

    To me the biggest revelation was that Trump sound less obviously unreasonable when he isn't permanently shouting or raising his voice. The repetition seems less stultifying coming from someone soft-spoken.

  8. Phillip Minden said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 4:07 pm

    Zeppelin, and vice versa probably – the lack of shouting might lessen the appeal to his main clientele.

  9. Mark Meckes said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 4:39 pm

    On a related note, this NYT article fits well with recent LL posts about Trump's language.

  10. Catherine Lincoln said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 6:30 pm

    The "posh" Donald Trump sounds and looks just like Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.

  11. Levantine said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 10:44 pm

    Catherine Lincoln, it's difficult to say why, but to me (a Brit) Boris Johnson's accent sounds nowhere near as arrogant or poncey as the voiceover used for the Trump clips. Posh as Boris is, he somehow sounds pleasant and affable, even to someone like me who's politically opposed to him.

  12. Rubrick said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 10:59 pm

    If "Posh Trump" were in a movie, he would unquestionably be cast as an utter ass. So, not much change, really.

    (These were absoultely hilarious, BTW.)

  13. JB said,

    February 2, 2016 @ 11:58 pm

    Benedict Cumberbatch, strangely enough, never seems to get cast as "an utter ass."

  14. Rebecca said,

    February 3, 2016 @ 12:05 am

    What I found most discombobulating was the low pitch of Cockney Trump. I just couldn't mentally attach the voice to the man. They needed more of a Mchael Caine voice.

  15. Picky said,

    February 3, 2016 @ 4:28 am

    The posh Trump sounds to me just like that cad and villain Grytpype-Thynne (as voiced by Peter Sellers).

  16. Phillip Minden said,

    February 3, 2016 @ 5:17 am

    In either direction, a lot depends on the dubber's intention and how good he is. It's not automatically how Trump would sound were he a Cockney or RP speaker.

  17. ajay said,

    February 3, 2016 @ 6:53 am

    Benedict Cumberbatch, strangely enough, never seems to get cast as "an utter ass."


  18. GH said,

    February 3, 2016 @ 11:41 am

    (For JB and others who may not be in the know, ajay is quoting Cabin Pressure, a radio comedy where Cumberbatch plays an utter ass.)

  19. Baboo said,

    February 3, 2016 @ 7:54 pm

    Trump is ready to address Parliament.

  20. JB said,

    February 3, 2016 @ 10:30 pm

    Aha. I thought it my have been a reference to the Star Trek film, which I haven't seen, in which Cumberbatch plays the lead villain.

  21. Ginger Yellow said,

    February 4, 2016 @ 8:14 am

    He's an utter ass in Sherlock too.

  22. Phillip Minden said,

    February 4, 2016 @ 8:28 am

    No, he's a well-functioning utter arse.

  23. JB said,

    February 4, 2016 @ 10:45 am

    Matter of opinion I suppose.

    And on the topic of posh villainous Brits, no one's mentioned the late Ian Richardson (Francis Urquhart).

    Or Alan B'stard…

  24. Phillip Minden said,

    February 4, 2016 @ 11:07 am

    I had this in mind (35-sec clip):

  25. Mo' Words said,

    February 5, 2016 @ 6:00 pm

    I'd tend to agree with Zeppelin – i.e. that Trump sounds more reasonable when he isn't shouting (though as Phillip Minden points out, what he loses in vocal force, he probably loses in support among his base).

    My impression is that Peter Serafinowicz's voice also has greater range than Trump's, thus making the separate elements of his message (eg mimicking Hillary's speech) cohere rather than appear as the type of random shifts The Donald has become famous for. Or am I imagining things?

    As for the secondary discussion on the emotional or social value of British accents in the US, some may find this insightful (and others may propose something more academic on the topic):

    BTW, isn't it funny to hear Trump call someone else's technique "theatrical"?

  26. Phillip Minden said,

    February 6, 2016 @ 5:15 am

    Yes. Or to hear him call a competitor a "nasty guy" or everybody except himself "horrible people" and "incompetent "jerks".

  27. zythophile said,

    February 8, 2016 @ 10:36 am

    Ray Winstne as Donald Trump? I can see that – Who's the Daddy?" indeed

  28. zythophile said,

    February 8, 2016 @ 10:36 am


  29. Alon Lischinsky said,

    February 9, 2016 @ 12:55 pm

    @Mo' Words: I believe the canonical non-academic analysis is this

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