7

In Deepwater Horizon, John Malkovich says phrases like:

You nervous as cats.

or

We a big company, Mike, BP.

or

So they the big picture. They the little picture, like you and the malfunction' shitters. But you see, in point of fact, they all kind of interconnected.

or

Kaluza and I have talked about this drill pipe, until we blue in the face.

or

And if they zero pressure, Mr. Jimmy, then that gonna tell us all we need to know.

Now I am given to understand that apparently, he is supposed to speak with a Cajun accent. I have watched some videos on Youtube with people speaking Cajun, but albeit that accent has its peculiarities, none of the speakers were omitting words.

So my question is: Is there any reason Malkovich speaks the way he speaks?

Update: I should probably refine my question; @Paulie_D pointed out that this is probably just an interpretation of the role. However, I am interested in the reasons as to why somebody would speak like this, given they are able to speak flawlessly. I am not a native American speaker and am trying to comprehend the rationale behind this (if any); could it be just some boss-subordinate-thing?

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    Because that's Malkovich's interpretation of the character (or at the very least the writers). – Paulie_D Oct 19 '18 at 10:47
  • It's stereotypical of Southern Louisiana dialects. Have you seriously never heard this? – Jason P Sallinger Oct 19 '18 at 12:34
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    @JasonPSallinger Keep in mind that we get users from all around the world, and of all ages. Familiarity with the common depiction of cajun speech patterns in American cinema is not a given. What seems obvious to you might not be obvious to the OP. – Steve-O Oct 19 '18 at 13:33
  • @JasonPSallinger - That actually sounds like there's an answer in there. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oct 20 '18 at 20:54
  • I only know very few Americans personally, and most of them are from Colorado :) So no, never heard that before ;) @Paulie_D, I have update the question to make it more specific, please have a look. – user654123 Oct 22 '18 at 7:20
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Yes, this is simply an attempt at a Louisiana Creole (or Cajun) accent, albeit probably an exaggerated one.

Malkovich is portraying a real person called Donald Vidrine, a BP supervisor from Louisiana who was tried for the Deepwater Horizon deaths in 2012. Seeing that he was born in Louisiana in 1947, it's possible that his accent and synthax were more pronounced than modern-day variants. And yes, in some extreme forms, certain words are omitted in Creole. From an analysis of some constructions used by English-based Creoles (in LANGO: Language Organisation by Robert Craig and Antony Alexander):

(1) The third person singular does not alter verb declension in the present tense: e.g. "he run, she sing". [...]

(2) Possession may be denoted by juxtaposing nouns rather than using the genitive with the apostrophe: e.g. "this woman child, that man field". [...]

(3) A plural is often not marked by an [s]: e.g. "two house, them rabbit". [...]

(4) Verbs are negated by the word "no": e.g. "he no work today". [...]

(5) Adjectives are used as adverbs: e.g. "he walk silent, she sing soft". [...]

(6) Auxiliary verbs like "be" or "do" are often omitted: e.g. "the sun hot, he old man, them hungry, why you bring this?" [...]

(7) Serial verbs are commonly used in creoles: e.g. "she go try find it, he start run escape".

It should be mentioned, though, that Malkovich is somewhat known for exaggerating mannerisms, inflections, and accents, and it's very possible that this is just one of those cases; The descriptions of his portrayal in reviews of the film ranged from bemused adoration ["an insane and delightful Cajun accent"] to bemused... not-so-adoration ["Malkovich (is) notoriously bad at accents — his Cajun here is a work of outsider art"].

  • Thanks for the answer and that excerpt, much appreciated! – user654123 Apr 15 at 11:38

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