WARNING: This blog contains cultural and linguistic stereotypes that some might find offensive. If our generalizations awaken the woke warrior within you, then proceed with caution. Alternatively, turn on your favorite streaming channel, wouldja?
There’s just something about a foreign accent, a certain je ne sais quoi, that adds layers of meaning, bias, and cultural overtones to even the simplest statement. Sometimes the elusive coolness factor makes every syllable in every word ring with authority. Other times, not so much. Either way, even slight accents carry some surprisingly heavy baggage.
During our many treks across the world, including extended stays in the US, we’ve noticed that the cooler the accent you have, the more seriously you’re taken. But what’s cool? To American ears, German accents are great for scolding while French accents are quite seductive. Do Taiwanese and Argentinians distinguish between the Valley Girl’s “Like, can you, like, move, like, coz we, like, totes need to, like, get through?” and the New Yorker’s “Get outa da way”? We just don’t know. If you’re from Taipei or Buenos Aires, maybe you could let us know?
Some accents just get no respect. Ours, for example.
How can you be afraid of someone with a sing-song Norwegian accent, or it’s American pendant, the Minnesota dialect? Well, maybe if you were the guy who got stuffed into the woodchipper in Fargo you’d object? You betcha! Oh, yah, that really hurt, donttchaknow.
And what about poor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who couldn’t even get cast to dub his own voice for the German version of The Terminator? Why? Because the German film distributors thought Arnie’s Austrian accent make him sound too wimpy in German.
What we do know is this: If you work in EP and speak English with a cool accent, then you get extra bonus points. It’s a major plus and an added cool-factor that we, as a transplanted Dane and a West-Coast American, simply don’t possess. Our accents give us zero gravitas.
Christian has a Scandinavian accent that makes you think of IKEA, freezing summers, and overcooked meatballs. Let’s be honest, those things aren’t that frightening for an EP agent. What is he going to do when things go south, de-escalate the situation with hygge?
Jared sounds like every other high schooler west of the Mississippi. The only thing you’re worried when listening to him is getting asked to split the tip in a vegan restaurant or having to taste his latest home-made fruity cocktail.
So, who do we think strikes the fear of god in folks that want to start trouble? We’ve listed the top five accents that we wish we’d been gifted with instead of our boring ones.
EP accent number 5, Russian
This one is a no-brainer. Let’s be real, folks. Russians withstand the coldest winters and the most boiling summers. They wrestle with bears, drink vodka for breakfast, and they’re sambo world champions.
Couple that with the Slavic enunciation, the tight, curl-of-the-lip no-smile, the poorly fitting trench coat, and a bone-crushing handshake? You know they mean business. If you meet an EP agent with a Russian accent, understand that you’re dealing with an expert and you might as well knock yourself out before he does it for you.
EP accent number 4, Brazilian
Passionate Portuguese speakers, incredibly fit, and amazingly adaptive, Brazilians are the Swiss army knife of humanity. They’ve got a move for every situation, and they’re all smooth. If you’re in doubt, just take a look at their beaches, where they’re kicking everyone’s ass at volleyball, football and just looking good.
Throw in the fact that they’re all Brazilian Jiu jitsu experts (duh), that they are veterans of the toughest police forces and have shootouts in favelas on the daily, that they fear nothing and always know how to handle business, and you know that every Brazilian – man, woman or child – is a card-carrying EP expert.
EP accent number 3, South African
South Africans are well-traveled, multi-lingual, and ready for action in any situation. Consider that there are more than 400,000 active private security guards in the country, more than the police and army combined, and it makes total sense that the South Africans are considered leaders in the EP industry.
Toss in the widespread and never-quite proved stories about how South Africans run every clandestine war and secret-op south of the Sahara, (we can neither deny or confirm these rumors) and you know they are the real deal. What is more, they routinely survive the incessantly aggravating sounds of the vuvuzela, so you know every part of them is hardcore, especially their eardrums. With that accent, it’s not hard to understand why everyone stands to attention when a South African barks commands and takes charge in any permutation of Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Southern and Northern Sotho, and English.
EP accent number 2, British
The Queen’s accent might sound cliché, but there’s a reason we all consider the Brits skilled EP professionals. For one thing, there’s their vast history of working in the field. For another, these high-society experts always know the difference between the salad fork, the oyster fork, and the dinner fork – and they can immobilize a small army with any of them.
Then there is the fact that everyone knows someone who knew someone who might have been a British spy at some point, or at least read a novel or saw a movie about it. Just who is it that came out of the cold, came up with James Bond, MI5, MI6, the M4, and her majesty’s secret missions, anyway? Denmark? The United States? We don’t think so.
Finally, as if all of the above weren’t reason enough to consider the British the leaders of the field, why is it only former British military security experts you meet half-plastered in dingy bars everywhere in the UK, in southern Spain, and all across Southeast Asia, all paying for their pints with blood diamonds? Suffice to say, the Brits are one tough crowd. To add insult to injury, American women are genetically programmed to find everyone with a British accent sexy. Yes, even that guy named Lonnie at the bar in Malaga.
EP accent number 1, Israeli
You knew this one was coming, because we always save the best for last.
Let’s face it, aside from having some of the best hummus in the world (and don’t get Jared started on the falafel), Israel also has some of the most hardcore EP people under the sun. In all our time and experience, we’ve yet to meet any Israeli who isn’t a veteran of the IDF, that did anything as normal in the army as being a cook or working in logistics, that isn’t a combat veteran, a Krav Maga expert, and a Mossad secret agent. All before the age of 22.
These men and women make MacGyver, Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger look like sissies. OK, we already talked about Arnie, but Chuck Norris? Sorry, Chuck, but you sound like someone who was born in Ryan, Oklahoma.
The slightest hint of an Israeli accent indicates an agent that can knock you out with a single hand move and won’t even break a sweat. We wish we were this amazing, but unfortunately, we didn’t get this accent. Rest assured that if we did, we’d get every EP job we applied for.
What do you think? Did we manage to insult you by mentioning your accent, or, worse, leave out one that deserves honorable mention? Ping us on social media to settle the score.