Language Ideologies in Animated Films: Why does that character sound like that?

Talla Khattat, Jacob Gutierrez, Edna Tovar, Grace Yang, Al Jackson, Espie Maldonado

Why do all military characters in animation films have Southern accents? Throughout this blog, we aim to understand the world of languages in animated films and take you along with us. Audience members digest the creative choices that are made on screen and unconsciously learn to associate linguistic patterns with certain sociocultural elements. This research paper aims to observe the linguistic elements of accents and dialects to understand the correlating relationship with the language ideologies and cultural attitudes. We observed the films Aristocats (1970), The Secret of NIMH (1982), The Rescuers Down Under (1990), and Zootopia (2016), and categorized the different patterns observed based on several different elements. Our findings show that minority accents can be tokenized to invoke assumptions about a character in order to save screen time. We call on future research to understand how impactful some of these harmful depictions can be and emphasize the importance of respectful representation.

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