Lindsay Lohan had people tongue-tied this week when she unveiled a bizarre new accent that sounded — in a manner of speaking — fake.
TheWrap reached out to Roslyn Burns, a socio-linguist at the University of California at Los Angeles, to find out if Lohan’s accent, and her explanation for it, are to be believed.
“It’s a mixture of most of the languages I can understand or am trying to learn,” the actress told the Daily Mail this week. “I’ve been learning different languages since I was a child. I’m fluent in English and French, can understand Russian, and am learning Turkish, Italian and Arabic.”
Burns finds that hard to swallow.
“From my work on language contact effects — which draws heavily on the field of language acquisition at the individual level — this is likely not the case unless she has actually been immersed 24/7,” Burns said.
Burns said that Lohan isn’t landing the “vowel characteristics” of the languages she cited.
“The languages that she claims to know/study — Arabic, French, Italian, Russian, Turkish — do not have the vowel characteristics that she has been putting on,” Burns said, after reviewing a video of the actress brandishing the accent. “I have lived in communities with expats who natively speak these languages, and what Lindsay’s doing doesn’t match, not even for the communities that learned British English instead of American English.”
Burns opined that Lohan’s newly adopted speaking voice is “really some modified version of British English,” and that she’s likely putting on the accent to fit in with a more international crowd.
“It’s more likely that she is doing something either consciously or subconsciously to mark herself as a member of a certain community, be that ‘global citizen,’ ‘non-American English speaker’ or what have you,” Burns said.
“She seems to be trying to show some sort of ‘European identity’: She’s talking about ‘Greeks,’ ‘Italians’ and ‘Irish’ in this interview, and her fiance is Russian.” Burns said, adding that Lohan “might not consciously know that she is targeting this identity.”
Burns also called out Lohan’s pro-refugee comments in the interview, noting a disconnect between her British-leaning accent and her stance on the issue.
“The irony behind that is she is disavowing American close-mindedness by using a British accent, when the exact same stance about refugees in the UK helped fuel the Brexit vote,” Burns said.
Burns also noted that the actress is slowing her speech in the interview — another sign that Lohan’s accent doesn’t ring true.
“She is clearly speaking slowly because she hasn’t perfected what she is doing, which once again points to this not being a direct consequence of her studying other languages,” Burns concluded.