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the babylon 5 experience


Having watched all of Babylon 5 , It still amazes me to have witnessed such an event in Human history . This past 3 years will go down in my estimation as the greatest ever 3 years watching sci-fi that i have ever had . Just what is it about b5 ? Oh and the story also sounds Russian to me ..... Quite odd .
J. Michael Stacynski's family comes from Eastern Europe. I suspect that your are reacting to all those episodes with unhappy endings.
I am assuming that the Russian thing was just one note of the whole experience. Ivanova was very good about bringing that up several times. Much to everyone's amusement.
"I'm Russian, we understand these things."
I have read JMS' columns in the Babylon 5 magazines and what we hear coming from the characters is just what he thinks. He is presenting his view of the world through his stories. What is really amazing is that it strikes a chord in so many people and yet it doesn't feel like he's preaching.
JMS doesn't candy coat the future, like Star Trek, he shows the real world projected to the future with little changed in the matter of being human. That's what made it so beleivable and personal to many people, including the actors.
Georgia O'Keeffe says it best,
"It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest."
But why was Ivanovas accent american and not russian? that's what I want to know.

Was it laziness in Claudia Christians part?
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It was explained with Ivanova having studied abroad. Faking an accent in believable and non-cheesy manner requires actually knowing a language of sufficient similarity, or carefully studying the accent of people originating from that language environment. Sometimes, you don't have time to do that, and Ivanova adopting a Russian accent mid-series would have been rather... amusing.
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
But why was Ivanova's accent american and not russian?


Because the producers didn't want it to be. Had it been important they would have had Claudia do it that way, hired another actor who could handle the accent if she couldn't, or hire a dialogue coach to work with her. Accents aren't at all difficult for actors who have an "ear" for them - and are nearly impossible for those who don't. (Jimmy Doohan and Walter Koenig broke up a Trek convention once by "switching" character accents during a panel when the question came up.)

The fact is that JMS wanted a Russian character to be prominent in the series, both because it gave him a chance to play with his own heritage and sometimes gloomy worldview, and because Russia's historical contribution to space exploration would make it look odd (and chauvanistic) if an American space series had no Russians. (Which was the basic reason the Chekov was added to Star Trek starting with the second season.)

But therein lies the problem. If you have someone who is ostentatiously Russian, including a heavy accent, everybody and his brother is going to accuse you of ripping-off Trek (like JMS didn't know he was going to get enough of that anyway) and Ivanova would have been dismissed as "Chekov in drag." It would have been just one more problem for the series to overcome, and it already had enough of those.

Besides, not every Russian speaker has an accent in English, at least not a Russian one. I've seen several Russian journalists and scientists on TV who sound more British than anything, because they learned English from British teachers.

Susan, who was raised abroad in international schools where English probably served as the everyday common language speaks with a neutral accent. Ganya, who was raised in Russia and probably spoke Russian almost exclusively, has a Russian accent. Ganya used English for practical reasons, to communicate with his fellows. He probably didn't worry about his accent or improving his English once he was good enough to make himself understood. Susan, especially as an adolecsent, would have desparately wanted to fit in, and probably paid more attention to the way she spoke.

(Actually, the whole scene with Ganya was a little strange - given that they'd probably both have been speaking Russian, just as Londo and Vir are presumed to be speaking Centauri when alone. Maybe given Ganya a Russian accent was JMS's way of indicating that Susan now speaks Russian with an American accent. /forums/images/icons/wink.gif)

But early on in the series, she does betray in subtle ways that English is not her first language. She tends to speak formally, not to use contractions ("I do not like Santiago", instead of "I don't like Santiago"), and to use little slang. If I'm not mistaken she also sometimes uses "the" where we wouldn't, and doesn't use it where we would, which is common among speakers of Slavic languages. As the series progresses, her English becomes more colloquial.


Also, English - as mentioned in B5 - is the Human language of trade and comminucation. It's probably a language most Earthers learned from a very young age. Accents are picked up because it's how we hear our family and others around us speak but - at least I'd presume, I've never heard facts to back this up - if one were to learn two languages at once when young and learn English from speakers without a Russian accent, they'd probably not speak it with much of a Russian accent. Of course you can argue that there are plenty of Russians in the twenty-third century who knew and could teach English though having an Russian accent ... *shrugs*

Accents do change over time ... with increasing global unity, who knows what might happen to them too ...

At least we didn't wind up with a situation where almost all the bad guys were British ala Star Wars: A New Hope! /forums/images/icons/wink.gif
But bad guys are more interesting and being British myself that must mean in the star wars universe, i'm more interesting than the rest.

So There! /forums/images/icons/wink.gif
Hey, Joe D. I also read somewhere a quote from Roddenberry that Chekov was mainly added to appeal to the younger set, what with his Beatle/Monkee's haircut. Frankly, I thought his hair looked awful. Of course I was just out of high school when it originally aired back in the 60's. /forums/images/icons/grin.gif
I remember a number of references to English as being the "human language of business," which really is an extrapolation of what might happen if things keep on going the way they are.

After all, the B5 Council spoke in English (it was very clear, at least to me, that Sheridan didn't know any other languages - and he seemed to understand everyone just fine...)

So it seems to me that having Ivanova speak English wasn't that bad of a guess.

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