Why are Orcs/Orks/Uruks always Cockney?

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dudeglove

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Like, in Warhammer Space Marine the Orcs were pretty bad, and now Shadows of Mordor is all "Oi! 'Oo's that Tark scum causin' all that botha!?". I mean, look at the Ratbag trailer.

Does anyone know where this trope comes from? Granted it might not be the same as Blizzard's orcs, I haven't played enough of WoW to know, but the Warhammer/LotR lot always seem predominantly English.

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Yummylee

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#2  Edited By Yummylee

In Warcraft they have American accents I believe, least I remember Thrall sounding that way. Most of the time they just make 'em sound like cavemen. Orcs typically having cockney accents is something I've noticed too, though I assume it's because it sounds real... dirty and can be intimidating if done right. Though of course they're usually so exaggerated in media that it's more comical than anything. Vinnie Jones it ain't, guv.

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damodar

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They should all have the thickest Minnesotan accents possible.

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BeachThunder

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#4  Edited By BeachThunder

Just another medieval fantasy trope...like most things in fantasy settings - if someone does it, then a million other people will copy it.

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Brendan

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Most of this Orc stuff originally comes from Tolkien and he was British so I guess the cockney accent is seen as dirty and lower class which would befit a brutish race.

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dudeglove

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@yummylee said:

Orcs typically having cockney accents is something I've noticed too, though I assume it's because it sounds real... dirty and can be intimidating if done right. Though of course they're usually so exaggerated in games that it's more comical than anything. Vinnie Jones it ain't, guv.

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Jesus_Phish

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Tolkien wrote their dialogue in a way that reads like how a person with a cockney accent would speak. Cockney can sound very aggressive and simple and angry. As @beachthunder says it just became a trope after that.

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hatking

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#8  Edited By hatking

I like it for some reason. It's an accent with a ton of character and range, it's easy to understand for those unfamiliar with it, and I imagine it's not too hard for actors to do. Like mentioned earlier in the thread, they often come off a bit comical, but they also have the ability to be pretty intimidating. I feel like those are the two versions of Orcs we see. Either the clumsy, slapstick Orc, or the aggressive, violent Orc. I guess getting more range than that out of it would probably require a pretty good actor, for those not native to that region, but that's not really demanded for those roles either. I think the American southern accent is often similarly portrayed.

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Jazz_Lafayette

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Social stratification.

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mosespippy

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It probably helps that it's easy for a voice actor to reference the cockney accent. You tell em to try a Newfoundland Baymen accent or a South African accent or something that is not commonly used they might not know what you're talking about. I don't think more common accents like Aussie, Kiwi or Pacific Canadian would fit, though some games do use the whole range of commonwealth accents.

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deactivated-5e49e9175da37

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Because ethnocentrism.

Ya poncey git you.

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s-a-n-JR

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Orcs are from East London, everyone knows that.

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squidraid

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They went pretty far out of their way to copy the uruk speech mannerisms from the Peter Jackson movies for the game, which I'm surprised wasn't pointed out in this thread right away!

In short, I blame Peter Jackson for everything. I expect he just wanted to give the uruks a distinct dialect that you'd immediately associate with them later in the movies, and yeah, I think it's fairly unique to Jackson's orcs. Warcraft orcs sound nothing like uruks.

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Jesus_Phish

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@squidraid: Nah it's not his fault. The Orks and Orcs of Warhammer had Cockney accents long before PJ made those movies.

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MarvinPontiac

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In the books, Middle-Earth is meant to be based on England and is intended as an ancient history / fairy tale of England and Northwest Europe. It's geographically and chronologically out of whack though (like Sam cooks with tomatoes but tomatoes came to England from the New World etc).

Warhammer I have no idea.

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MooseyMcMan

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I dunno, at this point, that's pretty much just how I expert orcs to sound. Just fits 'em, it does.

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wolf_blitzer85

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@damodar said:

They should all have the thickest Minnesotan accents possible.

If this happened, Captains would show up with a pan of hot-dish and then invite you to their kid's graduation party.

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Sweep

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#18 Sweep  Moderator

o

Why are dwarves always scottish? And Hobbits are from the west country?

Probably because JRR Tolkein was British and a lot of his environments were clearly influenced by the British countryside.

Cockneys have always typically been considered a bit rough and grimy, being from the biggest city. Out of all the British accents available, they are probably the best choice. Although I would have fucking loved the Uruk Hai to be scousers.

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MooseyMcMan

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I want to see something where orcs sound like they're from the American south. Hillbilly orcs sounds like a good fit too.

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Ravelle

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#20  Edited By Ravelle

Middle Earth orks aren't really that cockney, or at least their accent isn't so thick as the Warhammer Orks. I didn't hear any Oi!, Da's and Ah's at the end of every word .

I also thought Uruk's were big burly brown tainted creatures better intellect and toughness than orcs and they were born from mud, or at least that's how the movies showed them. In SOM every Uruk looks like an regular green orc and most still have a wacky character.

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MonkeyKing1969

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What?! How does an upper middle class child who lives in England in the late 19th century, who becomes a University professor become classist! Say it ain't so! You mean to say an Englishman in the early 20th century was preoccupied with class?!! ----SHOCKING----

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thomasnash

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In the books, Middle-Earth is meant to be based on England and is intended as an ancient history / fairy tale of England and Northwest Europe. It's geographically and chronologically out of whack though (like Sam cooks with tomatoes but tomatoes came to England from the New World etc).

Warhammer I have no idea.

I honestly can't remember if the books write the Orcs cockney or not, but assuming they do, then the choice fits into some of the overall mythical themes of the story, as a parable about the encroachment of an industrialised, city dwelling society into an idyllic pastoral one.

Although with that said, you'd have thought that Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle or even Cardiff accents would work equally well for that (Cardiff excepted because the welsh accent is so pastoral anyway). I suppose the difference is that industry in the North could be seen as more "homegrown" whereas the sort of society springing up around east London revolved around imported goods and immigrant communities and is therefore more threatening. Maybe this level of detail is taking the analysis too far!

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dudeglove

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Yummylee

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@sweep said:

Although I would have fucking loved the Uruk Hai to be scousers.

...The world isn't yet ready for such horrors.

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dudeglove

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What?! How does an upper middle class child who lives in England in the late 19th century, who becomes a University professor become classist! Say it ain't so! You mean to say an Englishman in the early 20th century was preoccupied with class?!! ----SHOCKING----

Wait, what are the Balrogs and Dragons and spiders a metaphor for then?

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Levius

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Well, if you think about it London and Mordor do have a lot in common.

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Jesus_Phish

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@monkeyking1969 said:

What?! How does an upper middle class child who lives in England in the late 19th century, who becomes a University professor become classist! Say it ain't so! You mean to say an Englishman in the early 20th century was preoccupied with class?!! ----SHOCKING----

Wait, what are the Balrogs and Dragons and spiders a metaphor for then?

The Liverpudlians, Wales and Manchester.

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Tortoise

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All villains must have English accents

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BBAlpert

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#29  Edited By BBAlpert

I'm always looking for an excuse to post this video of the wonderful Paul Barnett. At some point he explains the Warhammer Fantasy Battle factions as British class/regional stereotypes. If I remember correctly, the high elves are "posh people" and the dark elves are "posh people who've done a lot of drugs. Lord Byron, in other words."

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Edit: Also, orks with a k are the best because they're the meanest and the greenest.

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Unilad

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Because our accents are cool and we are awesome.

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StarvingGamer

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#31  Edited By StarvingGamer

Why are dwarves always Scottish?

Also Warcraft orcs have an American accent. Warcraft dwarves are still Scottish, though.

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coolarman

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@unilad said:

Because our accents are cool and we are awesome.

This is going to turn into another Bombcast email Australian beef isn't it.

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Unilad

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#33  Edited By Unilad

@unilad said:

Because our accents are cool and we are awesome.

This is going to turn into another Bombcast email Australian beef isn't it.

All you non Brits/Aussies would be too lucky!

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cornbredx

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They aren't in Warcraft. Just saying.

Cockney does tend to be used for bad guys a lot, though. It's not just Orcs (which in Warcraft you could argue aren't actually "bad guys").

I don't mean to cast dispersion (I like the accent a lot), but it seems to be used a lot to indicate they are stupid bad guys. This game seems to be one of a very few times where that isn't really true (as I understand it some of the named fights are actually rightfully difficult).

So, I don't know. I'd guess if it just fits for the people developing those characters then they use it. It's much like people with thick "New York" accents tend to be used as "bad guys" because that generally seems to work.

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Yummylee

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@starvinggamer said:

Why are dwarves always Scottish?

Also Warcraft orcs have an American accent. Warcraft dwarves are still Scottish, though.

Dragon Age dwarves are American.

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FrostyRyan

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#36  Edited By FrostyRyan

Because in real life, people with cockney accents are objectively evil.

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Milkman

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SHPAYCE MUHREENS

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mattgriffin

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I blame Star Wars. All of the Imperials had British accents, and ever since sounding Brittish is a lazy way to say "villain."

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@starvinggamer said:

Why are dwarves always Scottish?

Also Warcraft orcs have an American accent. Warcraft dwarves are still Scottish, though.

I feel like Warcraft orcs are always thematically and tonally kinda African Americans? Maybe I'm just reading too much into the "free ourselves from slavery" theme in Warcraft 3.

Thrall is Martin Luther King Jr., Grom Hellscream is Malcolm X. There, I said it.

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Yummylee

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@starvinggamer said:

Why are dwarves always Scottish?

Also Warcraft orcs have an American accent. Warcraft dwarves are still Scottish, though.

I feel like Warcraft orcs are always thematically and tonally kinda African Americans? Maybe I'm just reading too much into the "free ourselves from slavery" theme in Warcraft 3.

Thrall is Martin Luther King Jr., Grom Hellscream is Malcolm X. There, I said it.

What about Cairne Bloodhoof?

I'm not asking that to be snide either, I'm just curious if you can also come up with a fitting analogy for him too :P

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StarvingGamer

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@yummylee said:

@bisonhero said:

@starvinggamer said:

Why are dwarves always Scottish?

Also Warcraft orcs have an American accent. Warcraft dwarves are still Scottish, though.

I feel like Warcraft orcs are always thematically and tonally kinda African Americans? Maybe I'm just reading too much into the "free ourselves from slavery" theme in Warcraft 3.

Thrall is Martin Luther King Jr., Grom Hellscream is Malcolm X. There, I said it.

What about Cairne Bloodhoof?

I'm not asking that to be snide either, I'm just curious if you can also come up with a fitting analogy for him too :P

Tauren are Native Americans in that regard.

They still all have American accents.

Except for the Dwarves.

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BisonHero

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#42  Edited By BisonHero

@yummylee said:

@bisonhero said:

@starvinggamer said:

Why are dwarves always Scottish?

Also Warcraft orcs have an American accent. Warcraft dwarves are still Scottish, though.

I feel like Warcraft orcs are always thematically and tonally kinda African Americans? Maybe I'm just reading too much into the "free ourselves from slavery" theme in Warcraft 3.

Thrall is Martin Luther King Jr., Grom Hellscream is Malcolm X. There, I said it.

What about Cairne Bloodhoof?

I'm not asking that to be snide either, I'm just curious if you can also come up with a fitting analogy for him too :P

Tauren are Native Americans in that regard.

They still all have American accents.

Except for the Dwarves.

Also, while we're talking, let me blow your guys' minds: the Pandaren are the Chinese.

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TheHT

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#43  Edited By TheHT

@starvinggamer said:

@yummylee said:

@bisonhero said:

@starvinggamer said:

Why are dwarves always Scottish?

Also Warcraft orcs have an American accent. Warcraft dwarves are still Scottish, though.

I feel like Warcraft orcs are always thematically and tonally kinda African Americans? Maybe I'm just reading too much into the "free ourselves from slavery" theme in Warcraft 3.

Thrall is Martin Luther King Jr., Grom Hellscream is Malcolm X. There, I said it.

What about Cairne Bloodhoof?

I'm not asking that to be snide either, I'm just curious if you can also come up with a fitting analogy for him too :P

Tauren are Native Americans in that regard.

They still all have American accents.

Except for the Dwarves.

Also, while we're talking, let me blow your guys' minds: the Pandaren are the Chinese.

Dude WHAT?!

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Mowgers

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It's funny, Warhammer likely has a lot to do with the 'cockney orc' trope, but originally Games Workshop writers had them down as Scottish, probably Glaswegian.

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Shindig

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@sanj said:

Orcs are from East London, everyone knows that.

Danny Dyer comes from a long line of Orcs.

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Yummylee

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@shindig said:

@sanj said:

Orcs are from East London, everyone knows that.

Danny Dyer comes from a long line of Orcs.

'im and Phil Mitchell of the Blackrock clan, innit.

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Yummylee

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@yummylee said:

@bisonhero said:

@starvinggamer said:

Why are dwarves always Scottish?

Also Warcraft orcs have an American accent. Warcraft dwarves are still Scottish, though.

I feel like Warcraft orcs are always thematically and tonally kinda African Americans? Maybe I'm just reading too much into the "free ourselves from slavery" theme in Warcraft 3.

Thrall is Martin Luther King Jr., Grom Hellscream is Malcolm X. There, I said it.

What about Cairne Bloodhoof?

I'm not asking that to be snide either, I'm just curious if you can also come up with a fitting analogy for him too :P

Tauren are Native Americans in that regard.

They still all have American accents.

Except for the Dwarves.

Oh, I know that. I was more so asking of a specific individual like how he equated Thrall to MLK jr.

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mordukai

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@dudeglove:

"We had intended that the Orcs and Uruk-hai would sound evil, with a guttural vocal quality without any accent. However, the decision was made for the Orcs to be "Cockney," thus bringing a modern urban sound to what was otherwise a rural and altogether separate world of accents."

Taken from Andrew Jack's, who was the supervising dialect coach and also created the different middle earth accents, website.

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Y2Ken

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Orcs as presented in the likes of Tolkien and Warhammer definitely have a style and social structure that somewhat resembles the stereotypical East End (of London) mobsters. Very hard-nut, in your face sorts who'd spout expletives at you and cut your throat at a moment's notice. It's very much a generalisation but it's one that's easy for people to relate to - and it gives you an instant impression of how they're portraying these creatures.

That said, I would love to hear some Scouse orcs. Carragher the Shin-Cruncher.

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#50  Edited By LawGamer

@brendan: You're partially right. Tolkien was a philologist, so to him, one of the worst things someone could do was twist or corrupt a language (modern leetspeak would probably make his head explode). In terms of the Orcs in his books, they were described as corrupting their own language so thoroughly that different tribes couldn't even understand one another's Orc-speech. Therefore, when large groups of orcs get together, they need to use the Common speech/English to talk with one another - but instead of using proper English, they use a heavily bastardized form of it. Therefore, the choice of Cockney makes at least some sense, as it comes across as kind of a "low"/corrupted version of English. It's was Tolkien's subtle way of pointing out that Orcs weren't just evil, they were really evil.

As far as the larger trope goes, Tolkien influenced the fantasy genre so much I wouldn't be surprised to find out that subsequent portrayals of Orcs consciously or unconsciously adopted trope of Orcs speaking in a Cockney accent.

And yes, I admit - I'm a total nerd.