Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lost: Season 6 and Linguistics

I've been watching the entire series of of Lost this summer. I've been ok with the fantastical and bullshitty stuff. For instance, CPR always works, and I don't know what an L4 vertebra is, but if you have one, you're basically fucked on this show. I'm even comfortable with the fact that not everything will make sense in the end.

However, I'm starting to get bugged how they've decided to run roughshod over my domain (linguistics) in season 6 all of a sudden! My major beefs so far are:


1) I don't care how long Richard was on that Island. There's no way he can be speaking unaccented English in 2010. When he got there, he was in his early 40s and just learning English L2. Now all of a sudden he's got a perfect American accent!? I think there's no doubt that 40 is way outside he critical period!

2) This is more nitpicky (maybe), but would an 1800s Spaniard really have said "etoy"? /s/ deletion is very common in American Spanishes, and I believe it clearly distinguishes American from Europe an Spanish nowadays.
[edit: Apparently there is s-deletion in Canarian Spanish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canarian_Spanish. It probably still wasn't period appropriate, but whatever.]
 I think the show should get props for giving the actor a chance to showcase his bilingualism though (Nestor Carbonell is Cuban American). Maybe that fact un-peeves this peeve.

2 (again, cause the last one didn't count)) Jacob hits Richard in the back of the head and says in such an American accent, "Whad're you doin' here?"(that "d" represents a flap) Now, I don't know the whole deal on Jacob yet, but I get the gist that he's maybe supposed to be even ancient. Couldn't they at least go with the cinematic trope that ancient = British accent?

3) Sun runs into a tree and then forgets English? And Jack thinks it might be temporary aphasia which "affects the language center in your brain." It was nice that the writers wrote the following dialogue between Miles and Lapidus:

Miles: She hits her head and forgets English? We're supposed to buy that?

Lapidus: ...asks the man who communes with the dead.

Ok writers, I get it. Freaky stuff happens on this show. But it would be freakier if, say, she had some mystical vision, then couldn't remember English, but after working through her internal conflict over leaving the island, she gains her English back. A simple log to the head doesn't invite mystical bullshit.


  1. i think "knocking someone unconscious" is pretty much a discourse act on lost.

  2. I read somewhere that they had Nestor use his native Cuban accent, since the accent in the 1800s Canaries (where Richard came from) was similar.

  3. Google never fails: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2010/03/lost-nestor-carbonell-talks-about-the-ageless-wonder-he-plays-.html

  4. I want to know where Ben learned his exceedingly unnatural manner of speaking...


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