Today’s Countdown to Rory is special. We are going to devote the entire article to something near and dear to my heart: Learning how to speak with an Irish accent. If you are anything like me, you listen to Rory in press conferences and think to yourself, “I gotta learn to talk like that.”
Wikihow has a good writeup, but one of their points confuses me:
Many people, especially Americans, tend to harden their vowels. For example, Americans pronounce the letter A, “ay”; those with an Irish accent would pronounce it “ah” or “aw.”
I have heard Rory say “game” many times, and it definitely sounds like “gehme,” with an “eh” sound, not “ah” or “aw.” Wikihow refers to a Dublin accent, and Rory is from Belfast, so maybe that accounts for the difference. If I manage to get media credentials next week for the Erstwhile Inverrary Classic, I will ask him at his press conference.
Here’s a nice tip from Wikihow:
As a general rule, Americans have gotten lazy in their speech. “Ladder” and “latter” are pronounced the same in the US, but not to an Irishman. Give each consonant its due.
Say those two words with a emphasis on the vowels, and you’ll catch on. When you do that, it sounds to me, very much like Padraig Harrington.
Here’s a short, informal video that will give you a feel for speaking with an Irish accent. Pay particular attention to the part about “th.”
It helps to hear the words as well as see them, and this YouTube video does an excellent job of combining speech with text. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean. There’s a very long passage at the end, with the text written out in the “Show More” section. This guy also offers a CD. Here’s another video from the same guy, which is just as useful. Both are really good for practicing.
There are many other online options, some surely even better than those I have found. A word of caution, though: Some of the tutorials don’t truly capture the way Rory speaks. Therefore, it’s best to study actual videos of Rory. (Graeme McDowell interviews are another good resource.) Below is Rory’s press conference from this year’s Dubai Desert Classic. Notice the way he says, “game,” “shape,” and “great.” (I think you can hear all three in just the first minute.) They all sound like “eh” rather than a long a; however, he pronounces “play” with a long a.
Nothing worthwhile in life comes easy. So don’t get down if you can’t talk exactly like Rory. After all, I’m guessing you can’t swing a golf club exactly like him either. Besides, it’s much more worthwhile to imitate Rory’s polite, friendly, honest way of interacting with people. Do that and use any accent you want: Irish, Southern, Brooklyn, Spanish, Nigerian, Indian,Valley Girl, whatever. They’ll all be fine. [Note how after Rory says, when asked about it, his “benchmark” is to win, he very quickly says that in that regard, he’s no different from any other player in the field. Remember a former golf star who said he was there to win, as if other players were there only to get a check? The American golf media, classless as always actually started writing that kind of stuff, enough so that it became “conventional wisdom” that said star was “special.” Anyway, Rory didn’t want to come across as jerk nor make the questioner feel bad, so he clarified, then made a joke about wanting to move “in the right direction” from his spate of second place finishes.]