Lightning talk: “As they say in China, Arrivederci!” : Disney’s Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz and the Map of the Eastern European Accent in the American Imagination
This study investigates the representation of the Eastern European (EE) accent in the American animated series “Phineas and Ferb” (Disney). The accent is discussed by a limited number of sources (Reinacher, 2016; Wallace, 2008; Wiedlack, 2019), which generally agree that EE is presented as a culturally and linguistically homogeneous space. To test this hypothesis, Romanian, Russian and Ukranian native speakers were asked to identify the substrate languages and the most prominent features of the accent in the show. The survey results as combined with the overall representation of the character-speaker suggest that (1) EE is a uniform Russian-like territory in the American imagination; (2) although the characterter does not confirm the ‘pan-Slavic’ stereotype found in previous studies, he is still a villain.
The project is a pilot study that aims to show how seemingly harmless sociophonetic practices/ representations may stigmatize certain accents and groups of people. The need of unveiling stereotypes is much greater when it comes to children’s television. The ideas presented through this medium are internalized much easily due to the poor critical abilities of the younger children, while it affects a wide, even global-reach in some cases, audience (public pedagogy).