The Phantom, 12/4/04
If you’ve read this feature regularly, you’ll know that there’s nothing that turns me on more than hot, hot discussion of geographical and cultural signifiers embedded in dialect. Thus, it’s rather surprising that, until I read today’s strip, I never really considered what sort of accent the hero of the Phantom might have. I mean, let’s see: scion of a family of mysterious obscenely wealthy vigilantes, of European descent, born and raised in somewhere that is probably southeast Africa, married to an American, which all should result in him sounding something like … Teresa Heinz Kerry, maybe?
Anyway, the thing that threw me in this strip is that our grumpy superhero displays his disdain for American sports scheduling by exclaiming “Blast!” In my experience, the only people who ever use this word as an interjection are British. Well, I mean, not my experience as such, as none of the British people I’ve known or encountered personally have ever done so, but, well, can you imagine a native English speaker shouting “Blast!” in any accent that isn’t British? Yeah, me neither. That might also explain why the Ghost-Who-Watches-Television-In-His-Hotel-Room is so discombobulated by the schedule: in the Commonwealth Formerly Known As The British Empire, their so-called “football” games are on TV essentially all the time, instead of the rational once-a-week schedule we’ve established here.
I still can’t linguistically explain that “Huh!” at the beginning of the sentence, though. But it’s worth noting that lovable wolf Devil eschews the pedestrian “Woof!” for a more naturalistic “Wrf!”