I was contemplating what my Friday blog should be about. I could talk all day about dogs, ducks, chickens and the fact that I believe that mixing fruit with peanut butter is a complete abomination, but as I sit here listening to good ol’ Nina Simone, (sipping on a very generous pear martini) I thought I’d talk about the elephant in the room….
The fact that I am British and I do have a British accent. Or at least I did.
Jazz and blues music always seems to get my creative juices flowing or maybe it’s the martini, who knows?
The last seven years in America has been a whirlwind. It’s taken a long time to get used to the lifestyle over here. Driving on the other side of the road. I can deposit money in a drive thru ( we don’t have drive thru banks in the U.K) The fact you cannot buy one portion of vegetables, it’s always a family pack that goes all gooey after 24 hours in the refrigerator. Plasters are called band aids and water is called “wah-derr”.
When I first arrived in America, my accent was very thick and “proper”. Fresh off the boat! I felt like a celebrity talking to everyone that I encountered. I’d often get asked the same questions:
“When did you move here?”
“What made you move here?”
“Is London still the capital?” … yes….. someone also asked me “London, that’s part of the U.K right? Next to Russia…” I’ll be honest, she was so sure of herself that I didn’t have the heart to correct her. I’ll let her have that one.
As time went on, the novelty of sounding different began to wear off. I found myself needing to allow 30-45 minutes extra just when getting groceries. I knew the second I was asked for my VIC number or if I “found everything I needed to today”, it was game over. I would usually be hit with the comment: “Oh my god I love your accent! Is it real?” or “are you Irish?”……. in fact, let me write you a list of the most commonly asked questions or comments us brits get:
- Oh my god. I love your accent, I could listen to you talk all day.
- Are you Irish or Australian?
- Can you please say “Ello Guvnah” for me? I want to send it to my boyfriend.
- Oh my gosh- you are British?
- Do you still drive on the wrong side of the road here? – (LIKE WHAT!!!!!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!? DO YOU THINK I’D BE STANDING HERE?)
- Have you ever met the Queen? (Yeah every Sunday for brunch and croquet)
- What do you think about Harry and Megan?
- Is it true they don’t have a President in the U.K?
- I’d love to go to London one day, I always watch British TV shows, have you seen Faulty Towers?
- __________________________________________*awkward silence as they don’t understand a single word I’m saying.
Oooh I actually thought of the best one, that actually leaves me quite offended. “You sound so funny!” *Stares back at cashier wide eyed*
All I’m saying is, if you are British, you get it. If you are not, just remember that when you meet an Englishman, a Scottish man or Irishman (we probably won’t be walking into a bar together – another common mistake…) try to come up with something unique to ask us. That’s if you REALLY have to comment about our accent at all. If in doubt, talk about the weather. But in all seriousness, remember you sound weird as hell to us too. How did that beautiful, eloquent and poetic language turn in to:
“Wah-der” “water” pronounced “War-ter”
“Dawg” “Dog” pronounced “Dog”
“Bahl” “Ball” pronounced “Bawl”
And don’t even get me started on the fact “y’all” dropped letters from words!
Colour became color. Grey became gray. Behaviour became behavior. Like what is the issue with the letter “u”? you also have a problem with the letter “S”, you just had to swap it for a “Z”. For ex. Emphasize used to be emphasise. No wonder half of my friends on Facebook think I’m dyslexic. Microsoft word spell check just crashes when I start writing a letter. it probably thinks “Holy hell there is no helping this woman!”. It actually just dawned on me that maybe why my news feed often advertises “Learn English with Duo Lingo” ads.
So not only do I not know how to communicate in English anymore, but I find myself constantly and unconsciously changing my accent when I go into stores, so that I can be understood better, or maybe so that no one asks me anything personal. I didn’t realise (ooops I meant realize) how much my accent has actually changed. I have picked up on many of the southern inflections, so much so, when I phone home, my friends and family say I have an Australian twang now.
I guess that explains question no.2 (see above hahaha).