Benedict Cumberbatch and his American accent in a scene from Marvel’s Doctor Strange Jay Maidment / Disney / Marvel
Benedict Cumberbatch and his American accent in a scene from Marvel’s Doctor Strange Jay Maidment / Disney / Marvel

How to make Doctor Strange sound more familiar



Last weekend, Hollywood breathed a sigh of relief. After a fitful and lacklustre year of disappointing releases and expensive failures, it finally racked up a genuine hit.

Doctor Strange, an action-adventure superhero movie from Marvel Studios and Disney, opened worldwide, and raked in an astonishing US$325 million. Even better for the mental and emotional health of the people who live and work in the entertainment industry, most of that haul came from what we in Hollywood call “overseas”.

To Hollywood denizens, foreign territory starts about 10 kilometres out of town. There’s us – with our weird codes of conduct and our vegan lunches and our meditation gurus – and then there’s everybody else. Show business has a distorting effect on a person’s worldview.

So last weekend was confirmation that it’s possible for the guiding figures of Hollywood — the writers, directors, executives – to accurately target a motion picture for worldwide audiences. There’s something comforting about knowing that it’s more than theoretically possible to do that. There’s even something comforting, in a larger sense, in knowing that last weekend a lot of the world was watching the same movie at the same time.

The star of the picture is an English actor called Benedict Cumberbatch. In an earlier Hollywood era, he would have changed his name immediately upon his arrival in town. Benedict Cumberbatch is a complicated, odd-sounding name – it’s a perfect name, in fact, for a character in a movie who is playing a supercilious and dim-witted Englishman. Benedict Cumberbatch would have sat in the smoky office of his first agent, some place on Hollywood Boulevard, and his agent would have waved a cigar at him and said: “Kid, you’re a tall and handsome drink of water but the name is stinko. You need a star’s name! You sound like a butler!”

A few months later, the young Ben Batch, or Ben Cummings, or Ben Batcher – or, more radically, Batch Benjamin – would appear as a second-tier star in a big studio picture, get noticed by the talent-spotting mogul, and would be on his way to superstardom.

He would also, somewhere along the way, lose his English accent.

As it happens, Benedict Cumberbatch, in his starring role in Doctor Strange, does just that. He plays the title role of an American doctor who loses his hands in a car accident, and through a connection with an ancient spiritual healer, gains special powers and saves the world. (There’s more to it than that, of course, but my patience with superhero films is pretty thin.)

The filmmakers apparently believed that such a story about such a man could only believably be told if the man was an American, with an American accent, so Cumberbatch plays the part with his mouth and vocal cords firmly on the “American” setting.

He does a pretty good job of it, actually. British actors doing American voices, and vice versa, is a fraught and perilous choice. The British actors often overdo the American nasal tone, and they bite down hard on the “R” sounds so that every line sounds like a snarl. They also tend to focus on American exclamations – like “awesome” and “no way, dude!” – which always sound odd coming from someone who spends his time onstage at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

American actors usually fare even worse, the absolute nadir being the attempt by the actor Dick van Dyke, years ago, to convince audiences he was a cockney chimney sweep in the Disney classic Mary Poppins. His accent was so awkward and forced, such a dismal mess of dropped “H” sounds and shouts of “Cor blimey!”, that it’s hard not to classify it as an act of almost military aggression between two countries.

Hugh Laurie, in his performance as the (American, of course) Dr House on the smash-hit American television series House, did a flawless American accent. Cumberbatch is nearly as flawless, though he does admit to some trouble with the American pronunciation of one word.

The word “sorcerer”, apparently, with its multiple “R” sounds and closed-up vowels, gave him some serious trouble. The British style is to open up that last R, something like: “Saucer-uh.” The American style is to clamp down hard: “Sore-sir-er.” If you watch the movie, keep your ears tuned to that final R sound and watch Benedict Cumberbatch wrap his English mouth around those American syllables.

What’s odd, of course, is that back during the golden age of Hollywood, many American actors spoke with unabashedly English accents. Cary Grant, born in the UK, didn’t even try to Americanise his R’s. The Barrymores, Lionel and John, spoke in plummy mid-Atlantic tones in almost every picture they made. Back when American movies were made primarily for American audiences – decades before the era of global blockbusters like Doctor Strange – a lot of actors sounded vaguely English. Now, when movies open worldwide on the same weekend and the “overseas” market is bigger than the American one, we ask Benedict Cumberbatch to pronounce every R.

And we don’t ask him to change his name. Doesn’t seem like the right trade. I still think Batch Benjamin is a snappier name.

Rob Long is a writer and producer in Los Angeles

On Twitter: @rcbl

FULL RESULTS

Middleweight

Eslam Syaha (EGY) bt Robin Roos (SWE)

Welterweight

Alex da Silva (BRA) bt Bagyash Zharmamatov (KGZ)
Murodov Samandar (TJK) bt Lucas Sampaio (BRA)
Shakhban Alkhasov (RUS) bt Salamat Orozakunov (KGZ)
Khotamjon Boynazarov (UZB) bt Mikail Bayram (FRA)

Bantamweight
Jieleyisi Baergeng (CHN) bt Xavier Alaoui (CAN)

Flyweight
Rashid Vagabov (RUS) bt Lun Qui (CHN)
Yamato Fujita (JPN) bt Furkatbek Yokubov (UZB)
Aaron Aby (WLS) bt Joevincent So (PHI)

Catchweight 176lb
Mark Hulm (RSA) bt Erkin Darmenov (KAZ)

Catchweight 160lb
Rustam Serbiev (BEL) bt Anar Huseyinov (AZE)

Catchweight 150lb

Islam Reda (EGY) bt Ernie Braca (PHI)

Flyweight (women)
Baktygul Kurmanbekova (KGZ) bt Maria Eugenia Zbrun (ARG)

The specs: 2019 Subaru Forester

Price, base: Dh105,900 (Premium); Dh115,900 (Sport)

Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder

Transmission: Continuously variable transmission

Power: 182hp @ 5,800rpm

Torque: 239Nm @ 4,400rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 8.1L / 100km (estimated)

RESULT

Leeds United 1 Manchester City 1
Leeds:
 Rodrigo (59')
Man City: Sterling (17')

Man of the Match: Rodrigo Moreno (Leeds)

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

CONFIRMED LINE-UP

Elena Rybakina (Kazakhstan)
Ons Jabeur (Tunisia)
Maria Sakkari (Greece)
Barbora Krejčíková (Czech Republic)
Beatriz Haddad Maia (Brazil)
Jeļena Ostapenko (Latvia)
Liudmila Samsonova
Daria Kasatkina
Veronika Kudermetova
Caroline Garcia (France)
Magda Linette (Poland)
Sorana Cîrstea (Romania)
Anastasia Potapova
Anhelina Kalinina (Ukraine)
Jasmine Paolini (Italy)
Emma Navarro (USA)
Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine)
Emma Raducanu (Great Britain) – wildcard

Our legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

How to avoid getting scammed
  • Never click on links provided via app or SMS, even if they seem to come from authorised senders at first glance
  • Always double-check the authenticity of websites
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for all your working and personal services
  • Only use official links published by the respective entity
  • Double-check the web addresses to reduce exposure to fake sites created with domain names containing spelling errors
Takreem Awards winners 2021

Corporate Leadership: Carl Bistany (Lebanon)

Cultural Excellence: Hoor Al Qasimi (UAE)

Environmental Development and Sustainability: Bkerzay (Lebanon)

Environmental Development and Sustainability: Raya Ani (Iraq)

Humanitarian and Civic Services: Women’s Programs Association (Lebanon)

Humanitarian and Civic Services: Osamah Al Thini (Libya)

Excellence in Education: World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) (Qatar)

Outstanding Arab Woman: Balghis Badri (Sudan)

Scientific and Technological Achievement: Mohamed Slim Alouini (KSA)

Young Entrepreneur: Omar Itani (Lebanon)

Lifetime Achievement: Suad Al Amiry (Palestine)

What is a robo-adviser?

Robo-advisers use an online sign-up process to gauge an investor’s risk tolerance by feeding information such as their age, income, saving goals and investment history into an algorithm, which then assigns them an investment portfolio, ranging from more conservative to higher risk ones.

These portfolios are made up of exchange traded funds (ETFs) with exposure to indices such as US and global equities, fixed-income products like bonds, though exposure to real estate, commodity ETFs or gold is also possible.

Investing in ETFs allows robo-advisers to offer fees far lower than traditional investments, such as actively managed mutual funds bought through a bank or broker. Investors can buy ETFs directly via a brokerage, but with robo-advisers they benefit from investment portfolios matched to their risk tolerance as well as being user friendly.

Many robo-advisers charge what are called wrap fees, meaning there are no additional fees such as subscription or withdrawal fees, success fees or fees for rebalancing.

if you go

The flights

Etihad, Emirates and Singapore Airlines fly direct from the UAE to Singapore from Dh2,265 return including taxes. The flight takes about 7 hours.

The hotel

Rooms at the M Social Singapore cost from SG $179 (Dh488) per night including taxes.

The tour

Makan Makan Walking group tours costs from SG $90 (Dh245) per person for about three hours. Tailor-made tours can be arranged. For details go to www.woknstroll.com.sg

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

Imperial Island: A History of Empire in Modern Britain

Author: Charlotte Lydia Riley
Publisher: Bodley Head
Pages: 384

Our legal columnist

Name: Yousef Al Bahar

Advocate at Al Bahar & Associate Advocates and Legal Consultants, established in 1994

Education: Mr Al Bahar was born in 1979 and graduated in 2008 from the Judicial Institute. He took after his father, who was one of the first Emirati lawyers

Company profile

Name: WonderTree
Started: April 2016
Co-founders: Muhammad Waqas and Muhammad Usman
Based: Karachi, Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, UAE, and Delaware, US
Sector: Special education, education technology, assistive technology, augmented reality
Number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Growth
Investors: Grants from the Lego Foundation, UAE's Anjal Z, Unicef, Pakistan's Ignite National Technology Fund

Forced Deportations

While the Lebanese government has deported a number of refugees back to Syria since 2011, the latest round is the first en-mass campaign of its kind, say the Access Center for Human Rights, a non-governmental organization which monitors the conditions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“In the past, the Lebanese General Security was responsible for the forced deportation operations of refugees, after forcing them to sign papers stating that they wished to return to Syria of their own free will. Now, the Lebanese army, specifically military intelligence, is responsible for the security operation,” said Mohammad Hasan, head of ACHR.
In just the first four months of 2023 the number of forced deportations is nearly double that of the entirety of 2022.

Since the beginning of 2023, ACHR has reported 407 forced deportations – 200 of which occurred in April alone.

In comparison, just 154 people were forcfully deported in 2022.

Violence

Instances of violence against Syrian refugees are not uncommon.

Just last month, security camera footage of men violently attacking and stabbing an employee at a mini-market went viral. The store’s employees had engaged in a verbal altercation with the men who had come to enforce an order to shutter shops, following the announcement of a municipal curfew for Syrian refugees.
“They thought they were Syrian,” said the mayor of the Nahr el Bared municipality, Charbel Bou Raad, of the attackers.
It later emerged the beaten employees were Lebanese. But the video was an exemplary instance of violence at a time when anti-Syrian rhetoric is particularly heated as Lebanese politicians call for the return of Syrian refugees to Syria.

Naga

Director: Meshal Al Jaser

Starring: Adwa Bader, Yazeed Almajyul, Khalid Bin Shaddad

Rating: 4/5

Wonka

Director: Paul King

Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant

Rating: 2/5

Western Region Asia Cup T20 Qualifier

Sun Feb 23 – Thu Feb 27, Al Amerat, Oman

The two finalists advance to the Asia qualifier in Malaysia in August

 

Group A

Bahrain, Maldives, Oman, Qatar

 

Group B

UAE, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Chris Jordan on Sanchit

Chris Jordan insists Sanchit Sharma will make an impact on the ILT20, despite him starting the campaign on Gulf Giants' bench.
The young UAE seamer was an instant success for the side last season, and remained part of the XI as they claimed the title.
He has yet to feature this term as the Giants have preferred Aayan Khan and Usman Khan as their two UAE players so far.
However, England quick Jordan is sure his young colleague will have a role to play at some point.
"Me and Sanchit have a great relationship from last season," Jordan said.
"Whenever I am working with more inexperienced guys, I take pleasure in sharing as much as possible.
"I know what it was like when I was younger and learning off senior players.
"Last season Sanchit kick-started our season in Abu Dhabi with a brilliant man-of-the-match performance.
"Coming into this one, I have seen a lot of improvement. The focus he is showing will only stand him in good stead."

If you go:
The flights: Etihad, Emirates, British Airways and Virgin all fly from the UAE to London from Dh2,700 return, including taxes
The tours: The Tour for Muggles usually runs several times a day, lasts about two-and-a-half hours and costs £14 (Dh67)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is on now at the Palace Theatre. Tickets need booking significantly in advance
Entrance to the Harry Potter exhibition at the House of MinaLima is free
The hotel: The grand, 1909-built Strand Palace Hotel is in a handy location near the Theatre District and several of the key Harry Potter filming and inspiration sites. The family rooms are spacious, with sofa beds that can accommodate children, and wooden shutters that keep out the light at night. Rooms cost from £170 (Dh808).

5 of the most-popular Airbnb locations in Dubai

Bobby Grudziecki, chief operating officer of Frank Porter, identifies the five most popular areas in Dubai for those looking to make the most out of their properties and the rates owners can secure:

• Dubai Marina

The Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence are popular locations, says Mr Grudziecki, due to their closeness to the beach, restaurants and hotels.

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh482 to Dh739 
Two bedroom: Dh627 to Dh960 
Three bedroom: Dh721 to Dh1,104

• Downtown

Within walking distance of the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and the famous fountains, this location combines business and leisure.  “Sure it’s for tourists,” says Mr Grudziecki. “Though Downtown [still caters to business people] because it’s close to Dubai International Financial Centre."

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh497 to Dh772
Two bedroom: Dh646 to Dh1,003
Three bedroom: Dh743 to Dh1,154

• City Walk

The rising star of the Dubai property market, this area is lined with pristine sidewalks, boutiques and cafes and close to the new entertainment venue Coca Cola Arena.  “Downtown and Marina are pretty much the same prices,” Mr Grudziecki says, “but City Walk is higher.”

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh524 to Dh809 
Two bedroom: Dh682 to Dh1,052 
Three bedroom: Dh784 to Dh1,210 

• Jumeirah Lake Towers

Dubai Marina’s little brother JLT resides on the other side of Sheikh Zayed road but is still close enough to beachside outlets and attractions. The big selling point for Airbnb renters, however, is that “it’s cheaper than Dubai Marina”, Mr Grudziecki says.

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh422 to Dh629 
Two bedroom: Dh549 to Dh818 
Three bedroom: Dh631 to Dh941

• Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah's proximity to luxury resorts is attractive, especially for big families, says Mr Grudziecki, as Airbnb renters can secure competitive rates on one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations.

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh503 to Dh770 
Two bedroom: Dh654 to Dh1,002 
Three bedroom: Dh752 to Dh1,152