The inaugural Babel lecture - The Breath of Meaning

On Friday 13th February, we celebrated the 10th issue of Babel magazine by hosting a public lecture given by expert accent and dialect coach, Brendan Gunn. Brendan's talk, The Breath of Meaning, was a triumph, and we are pleased to be able to bring it to all Babel readers - just click on the image below:


Brendan first worked as an academic in sociolinguistics and dialectology before turning his expertise to the film industry in 1986. During his time working as an accent and dialect coach to the Hollywood stars, Brendan has worked with Robert De Niro, Penelope Cruz, Brad Pitt amongst many others.

During his visit, Brendan took part in a Q&A session organised by HuddLings, answering questions about his career and about how he transfers his specialised linguistic knowledge into a form that actors can work with. He also demonstrated some of his tips through audience participation (now we know how to say 'party' with a Southern Irish English accent – it was a great Babel 'parsee' after the lecture!).

Brendan gave us insight into how his coaching aids characterisation, such as his work with actor Edward Norton in his portrayal of the leprous King Baldwin in The Kingdom of Heaven. During his time working on this film, Brendan advised how Norton could tailor his voice to replicate the effects of Leprosy on the speech articulators.

In his talk, Brendan spoke of his time conducting field work as a student (collecting examples of dialectal phrases and accents) right through to the time he was invited to Brad Pitt's Hollywood home to coach him on his role as Mickey O'Neil in 'Snatch' by Guy Ritchie. A far cry from Brendan's field work in remote Ireland!

It was a great day and a fantastic opportunity for our subscribers, contributors (and us in Babel HQ!) to get together and hear about Brendan's career.

Now for issue 11!

02-gunn-main2Babel editors Dan McIntyre and Lesley Jeffries, Brendan Gunn, and assistant editor Jane Lugea


Watch an interview with Brendan about his work.

Read Brendan's 'Meet the Professionals' in Babel Issue 3.

Subscribe to Babel.

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