Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dialect Coach

Many of Ben's most notable talents continue to go unrecognized by the California State Curriculum Framework.

For example, why can't precision re-enactments of Pixar movies be counted as a critical skill for children entering Kindergarden instead of, say, writing with a pencil?

Then there's Ben's ability to pick up dialects and accents he hears and reproduce them flawlessly.

He's picked up a down Maine accent from an audio book of Robert McCloskey's Burt Dow, Deep Water Man, or as we like to say, "Buuuht Dow, Deep Watah Man."

In Scholastic's video adaptation of Lois Ehlert's Planting a Rainbow, he notices (and reproduces) the difference between how Sarah Jessica Parker reads the word "maah-rigolds" with her east coast dialect instead of how I say "mer-igolds" in the midwestern style.

I've caught him attempting to read an entire book to himself with the Caribbean accent of Sebastian from The Little Mermaid: "Den, de train cahs went to de staaation."

I'm trying to teach him to understand these differences instead of merely parroting them. Especially since often he'll inquire, in his own circuitous way, about why some words sound different. My current talking point goes something like:

In California we say "coffee." In New York, they say, "caw-fee."

And now, there's Welsh.

We have a wonderful Doring Kindersley book of Robin Hood read by actor Ioan Gruffud. He gives one of the characters a Welsh accent.

Ben could not get enough of it, asked us to play a section of dialogue about 25 times in a row and laughed until I thought he was going to pee in his car seat.

He's been imitating it for kicks every once in a while, cracking himself up like crazy.

He agreed to do it for the camera last night.


Natalie said...

How precious! He is absolutely adorable. I agree with the reenactments being added to the readiness standards! I think it's a great skill.

Jordan said...

Holy moly!! That is amazing. Think of his skills as learned in a different order - e.g., he's learned the skills required to perform in an adult-level theatrical show *before* writing. I am certain he'll learn what he needs, it just won't be in a typical order. Does that help?

He's so adorable.

jaki said...

Really cute!! Could hardly understand his "accent" so it must be good!!

drama mama said...

How do you get anything done with so much damned cuteness around?

From an acting standpoint, that kid is going places.

Is he concentrating mainly on the Anglo Saxon dialects? Why not Cantonese?

How's his Yiddish? Now THAT would need a YouTube post!

linda said...

What a cute performance!

Yes, the california standards miss a lot!!