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The issue with american voice actors playing foreigners

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TheDamnTrainCJ
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#1

Posted 02 August 2016 - 08:58 PM Edited by TheDamnTrainCJ, 02 August 2016 - 08:59 PM.

As someone who speaks and understands serbian i really had huge problems with Niko. His accent sounds pretty legit, Michael Hollick did indeed a great job. But the way he speaks serbian is so freaking terrible. Everytime when Nico started to speak serbian (happened a couple of times in the storyline) it really made me cringe. He did not even try at all, i really had a hard time to understand the actual words he was trying to pronounce. I know this is not a big issue for most people who play this game, since most of them do not understand serbian at all. But its not only Niko. I think its a general problem. If they want to portrait a foreign protagonist or character they should at least hire a voice actor who can pronounce the lines he has to say decently. It influences the quality of the game a lot.

 

Imagine if the next protagonist will be near eastern and a american voice actor has to speak arabic sometimes . This will kill the entire legitimacy.

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The7thOne
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#2

Posted 02 August 2016 - 09:39 PM

That's my main and only gripe with IV. While I appreciate Michael Hollick's work on Niko (really I can't think of anyone who could replace him), and the accent works, the Serbian dialect used certainly could've used work.

 

Niko Bellic really technically shouldn't be spelled this way as well, due to dialect differences. The proper spelling would be something more like "Nico Belic" or "Nikola Belic". This is true for Florian Cravic, since his last name, Cravic, is pronounced with a "ch".
 

I think the main issue is just poor scripting and authenticity most of the time. Michael Hollick certainly performed well, the problem was with the script towards the language. Although I do agree for the most part, hiring an actor that originates from the characters' region or country definitely should be another factor.

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Neon_Dreaming
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#3

Posted 02 August 2016 - 11:34 PM

It's interesting to hear the opinion of somebody who speaks Serbian, I had wondered for a while did Niko sound authentic, it seems the problem is when he actually speaks Serbian, I wonder was Michael Hollick just given phonics to read when speaking Serbian.
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Cheatz_N_Trickz
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#4

Posted 02 August 2016 - 11:42 PM Edited by Cheatz_N_Trickz, 02 August 2016 - 11:55 PM.

I don't think Bellic would work pronounced with the correct "ch" sound. It would sound like "Bell itch", and that's just weird.

By the way, is there any chance that his accent is closer to one from any of the other countries in that region where Serbian is an official language? I ask because there is a fair few of them and i'm pretty sure it's left ambiguous as to which one Niko originates from.

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#5

Posted 03 August 2016 - 12:23 AM

I actually wonder, how come Rockstar chose to go with the name 'Niko Bellic' anyway? From what I've heard, the other Serbian character names in the game were pretty much spot on, showing that Rockstar at least did some research, but in the meanwhile our protagonist has both his first and last names spelled erratically.


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#6

Posted 03 August 2016 - 12:59 AM

That's my main and only gripe with IV. While I appreciate Michael Hollick's work on Niko (really I can't think of anyone who could replace him), and the accent works, the Serbian dialect used certainly could've used work.

 

Niko Bellic really technically shouldn't be spelled this way as well, due to dialect differences. The proper spelling would be something more like "Nico Belic" or "Nikola Belic". This is true for Florian Cravic, since his last name, Cravic, is pronounced with a "ch".
 

I think the main issue is just poor scripting and authenticity most of the time. Michael Hollick certainly performed well, the problem was with the script towards the language. Although I do agree for the most part, hiring an actor that originates from the characters' region or country definitely should be another factor.

 

Goldberg in the mission final interview calls him Nikola he may have changed his name to get away from that guy who owed him money but ended up in Liberty city 


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#7

Posted 03 August 2016 - 11:42 AM

I would have prefered for them to have used Vladmir Mashkov to play Niko, it would have felt more authentic.

Hollick did a terrific job when speaking american, but when he starts talking Serbian you can teĺl he basicly reading a dictionary.

RogerWho
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#8

Posted 03 August 2016 - 12:14 PM

This is a very common trope in all of media.

 

Did you notice how in American movies, when someone is supposed to be a foreigner, they often tend to be portrayed by someone who is from a 3rd country? E.g. Star Trek TNG's captain Picard is French while Steward is British. That's to give them at lease some accent, I mean, all non-American accents are interchangeable right?

 

Or they just don't care and let whoever play whomever.

 

That said I don't generally mind or at least I got used to it. I somewhat understand around 4 or so other languages when spoken but I can't say I mind that much when someone is faking it even when it's really cringeworthy sometimes. You surely know those fake Russian or German accents...

 

I can't tell how much Hollick dropped the ball when speaking Serbian but I guess it's a not worse than if they'd have a Serbian who spoke crappy English? Or maybe if he'd try harder and it came off really fake and forced?


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#9

Posted 03 August 2016 - 01:10 PM

It's because of the American media's white-washing nature.

slimeball supreme
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#10

Posted 03 August 2016 - 02:42 PM Edited by Mr. Fartenhate, 03 August 2016 - 02:43 PM.

It's because of the American media's white-washing nature.

>serbian majority is caucasian
>possibly only American nationals auditioned for the part

I actually wonder, how come Rockstar chose to go with the name 'Niko Bellic' anyway? From what I've heard, the other Serbian character names in the game were pretty much spot on, showing that Rockstar at least did some research, but in the meanwhile our protagonist has both his first and last names spelled erratically.

Bellic is a derivative of the word 'Belli', which is Latin for war. Niko comes from the Serbian/Croatian word for nobody, IIRC.

Essentially, they damned authenticity for actual meaning.
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dakkajet
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#11

Posted 03 August 2016 - 07:47 PM Edited by dakkajet, 03 August 2016 - 07:49 PM.

Americans trying the Irish accent, always makes me laugh. Niko did sound pretty legit though, could have beenn worse

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#12

Posted 04 August 2016 - 07:50 AM Edited by Uncle Vlad, 04 August 2016 - 07:51 AM.

For me it´s hilarious to listen to the peds who are trying to sound like Germans or trying to speak Englsh with a German accent. No one says things like "Mutterficker" or "Scheisskopf", if at all, we use the English word "motherf*cker" or "sh*thead".

 

My favourite is the waitress in the Steinway Beer Garden: "You´re wanting ze sex wiz me? No zank you." :lol:

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#13

Posted 04 August 2016 - 08:38 AM

Even though I think Michael done a great job all things considered a genuine Serbian voice actor would've been better. Same with Roman. His voice actor Jason Zumwalt is American also.

I don't know much about Serbian dialect (Or anything else really besides Straya mate :p), but even I could sense some awkwardness when he spoke Serbian especially earlier on in the game.
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#14

Posted 04 August 2016 - 09:32 AM

I would have prefered for them to have used Vladmir Mashkov to play Niko, it would have felt more authentic.
 

Apparently he was approached to voice a Character in as of then unknown Computer/Video Game. He declined, so they went with Michael Hollic.


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#15

Posted 04 August 2016 - 10:53 AM Edited by Midnight Hitman, 04 August 2016 - 10:53 AM.

I've also noticed this issue in RDR, most mexican peds sound terribly phoned in and Coronel Allende kinda butchers the spanish language.
Is clear they only hired someone who sounds mexican but doesn't fully understands the language, a shame because it kinda ruins his scenes.
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PhillBellic
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#16

Posted 04 August 2016 - 11:00 AM

I've also noticed this issue in RDR, most mexican peds sound terribly phoned in and Coronel Allende kinda butchers the spanish language.
Is clear they only hired someone who sounds mexican but doesn't fully understands the language, a shame because it kinda ruins his scenes.

It also depends on if the Writers used Spanish Spanish, or Mexican Spanish. Aren't there small differences between them?


The Deadite
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#17

Posted 04 August 2016 - 11:18 AM Edited by Midnight Hitman, 04 August 2016 - 11:34 AM.

I've also noticed this issue in RDR, most mexican peds sound terribly phoned in and Coronel Allende kinda butchers the spanish language.
Is clear they only hired someone who sounds mexican but doesn't fully understands the language, a shame because it kinda ruins his scenes.

It also depends on if the Writers used Spanish Spanish, or Mexican Spanish. Aren't there small differences between them?
There are, is like comparing USA english to British english, is just i get the feeling some peds are either terrible actors or they just are english natives given small pieces of dialogue to read and trying to sound as mexican as possible.

Still, the Coronel doesn't talk spanish well, that's for sure. He has problems with gender pronouns and other stuff not even kids would get wrong, his VA is definetly not a latin native.

EDIT: Definetly, i have a hogtied bounty now and he sounds stiff as f*ck when delivering lines, R*'s cast director should ashamed of himself.
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#18

Posted 04 August 2016 - 11:35 AM

To be honest, general ethnic dialects need to be improved in GTA games. Something for GTA 6, eh?
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Colonel _Cortez
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#19

Posted 07 April 2017 - 08:43 PM

I agree on this one. At least they got the germans right :D


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#20

Posted 07 April 2017 - 11:20 PM

I understand why people clamour for more authenticity regarding such matters in GTA, but personally I'm not too bothered about this as long as the general objective is met, and with GTA I've always felt Rockstar have done enough to make the accents sound convincing enough to my satisfaction.

I thought Michael Hollick did a good enough job, he certainly sounded Balkan Eastern European enough for me, and the guy who did Roman too. As long as the general sound is right I'm content with it.
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#21

Posted 08 April 2017 - 11:04 AM

I think that the vast majority of GTA4 players don't know serbian, so it doesnt sound bad or good to them (me included) It just sounds foreign

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#22

Posted 08 April 2017 - 03:03 PM

I think that the vast majority of GTA4 players don't know serbian, so it doesnt sound bad or good to them (me included) It just sounds foreign

 

The same point I made earlier. Exactly, I agree.


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#23

Posted 09 April 2017 - 09:20 AM

While I absolutely agree, it doesn't change my opinion that Niko Bellic is the best protagonist in the HD era...maybe even the whole series. Well, either him or Tommy...or CJ...or maybe even Claude. Or Vic, and Tony.

You get what I'm saying though, right?
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Ivellios
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#24

Posted 09 April 2017 - 03:05 PM

Niko Bellic really technically shouldn't be spelled this way as well, due to dialect differences. The proper spelling would be something more like "Nico Belic" or "Nikola Belic". This is true for Florian Cravic, since his last name, Cravic, is pronounced with a "ch".

 

Choosing the form 'Bellic' might have been dictated by some other factors, for example:
- 'bellic' as a reference to Roman's belly :p
- 'bellic' as a reference to bells announcing changes in life of the main protagonist
- they might also 'americanize' their name for some reasons, for example, not to be easily identified by their enemies who came to Europe, or to avoid making Americans have problems with spelling and pronouncing their name
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Ivellios
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#25

Posted 10 April 2017 - 06:57 PM

Another idea came to my mind as of why Niko Bellic is Niko Bellic and not, for example, Nikolai Belić. As we know the word niko means nothing, and belli means war in Latin. Thus, the choice of such name may be a reference to the fact that Niko doesn't mean anything to anyone, maybe he even has no citizenship, no one owns him, so he is free to be hired by anyone to take part in gang wars.

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#26

Posted 11 April 2017 - 01:04 PM

Yeah I agree with what people said about Niko. I also thought the delivery on lines he was concentrating on the accent and then the tone of the sentence, sounded really off. I think his English should have been a bit worse too. There's these English mistakes that all non-native speakers always make. Even advanced English speakers. I've been in long term relationships with Italian and Mexican women and spent a lot of time with French, Portuguese and Spanish friends and there's common mistakes these people make that Niko didn't display. 

 

One glaring example is: 

 

"Hello, my name is Sara, I'm from Spain. I was going to writing my name on the application but I don't know how do you do that." Anyone spot it? Nearly every non-native English speaker makes this mistake. After "know" they put in the question "how do you do that?" when it was a statement not a question. So really the "do" after "how" shouldn't exist. Easy mistake but sounds funny. It seems so insignificant that it always catches advanced English speakers out. I hear it all the time.

 

That's one example. I'm a huge fan of casting locals in films/games and I don't think you should even try attempt to get a non-native playing a role, especially if that role is hinges on that person being from a particular country.  That sh*t may have worked in 20 or 30 years ago but now its bad/lazy practice, 

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#27

Posted 16 April 2017 - 11:09 AM

Sure, authenticity is ideal, and bad translations and language usage can dramatically affect the perceived quality of a product (think Google translations), but I don't see the problem here. The developers are English speaking developing a game largely for an English speaking audience. The accuracy of Serbian was not really a priority; the effects of Niko sounding foreign (in his English, plus speaking another language) was all that mattered.

 

Besides, Rockstar North play with language for a comedy effect. Remember Gruppe Sechs in GTAIII? Paul and Maccer from GTA:SA speaking different regional English dialects (London/South vs. Manchester/North)? Pißwasser in GTAV? etc.





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