Last week, when videos of Lindsay Lohan speaking with a bizarre blend of accents notably different from her signature Long Island-bred rasp surfaced, it seemed like the internet collectively voiced its puzzlement. Lohan herself didn’t offer any explanations, but didn’t flinch from the attention either — in a tweet, she proposed that her accent be called “Lilohan,” and has referred to her “new accent” more than once in the days since, even saying that she was going to sell charity benefit T-shirts in its honor.
She’s said her new vocal inflection is a result of “most of the languages I can understand or am trying to learn,” but hasn’t fessed up as to why she suddenly manifested the new blend.
Columbia University psychology and business professor Tory Higgins told The Post that there are two main reasons why someone could be presenting with a different accent (whether it’s a conscious change or not): wanting to make an impression on someone else that you’re a certain kind of person, or trying to convince yourself that you’re a part — or not a part — of a particular group.
“I don’t know her, so I don’t know how much it is wanting others to see you as having the stereotypic attributes of people with that accent or how much it is not wanting people to think you’re the person, the stereotypes, of the accents that you used to use,” Higgins said.
Higgins, author of “Beyond Pleasure and Pain: How Motivation Works,” said Lohan could be more prone to modifying her accent because she’s an actor.
“They’re always performing, and it’s not clear how conscious it is,” he said.
Lohan has been outspoken about the Syrian refugee crisis, and has also opened a nightclub, named Lohan, in Greece, in addition to her polyglot ways. This led Higgins to believe that her shift into “Lilohan” dialect could be a reflection of shifting political views.
“There are, after all, historically Americans who were really annoyed with America and what it was doing in the world, and politically unhappy with what America was doing, and felt more like, ‘I’m someone in the world. I’m a citizen of the world,’” he said. “Someone who has those politics is also more likely to do this because it serves a function of connecting to these other people and also distancing herself from home.”
Dialect coaches are stumped trying to figure out which accent she’s mimicking.
“All bets are off,” Los Angeles-based dialect coach Joel Goldes, who has previously worked with Will Smith, Kevin Costner and Miranda Otto, said when asked in which region he’d place Lohan’s distinctive elocution. He called it “highly unusual.”
Goldes pointed out intonations and sounds pulled from Greek, Arabic and French. “I honestly couldn’t peg it to one accent, it sounds like such a blend to me,” he said.
Another dialect coach, New York-based Leigh Dillon, theorized that Lohan was consciously or subconsciously adjusting her voice to match that of her interviewer. She compared Lohan to another artist, and posited that perhaps Lohan is entering a new period in her personal life.
“Half of my family are artists and painters. If they were limited to one way of painting, to one set of colors, that would be absurd,” Dillon said. “Picasso went through periods, he went through a Blue Period. That doesn’t mean he can only work in one set of colors or shades. Why do actors have to be restricted to speaking in one way that is quote-unquote real?”