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I Speak American Real Good

Most British kids grow up watching American TV and films. As a consequence, we learned to imitate the actors and movie stars we watched. As a twelve year-old I could do a pretty mean Clint Eastwood; I had the squint too. Unfortunately I was about as intimidating as a geriatric goldfish.

However, if I spoke with a genuine American accent in this country, maybe I’d be taken more seriously when conversing with strangers. I cannot do it though, an American accent is just not my default setting.

My job dictates that I talk to a lot of strangers every day, and I’m often engaged to discuss many topics of interest. When I’m asked a question, it doesn’t take long before the more intelligent of the American species can pinpoint that I speak differently from them. More often than not, they’ll notice my manner of speech right as I’m about to deliver the punchline to a joke, or finish making a socio-political comment. That’s when I’ll be interrupted by the question.

“Where’s that accent from?”

I will be temporarily thrown off from my point and look at the person and say something like, “England, but in answer to your question about Cheney’s foreign policy…” Then I’m interrupted again.

“Oh, we just love England.”

It never fails. My point (if there was one) has evaporated faster than vulture piss under the Sahara’s Desert’s midday sun. My point is I feel objectified, in as much as I’m made to feel that I couldn’t possibly have anything interesting to say because my accent is “cute” to the American ear.

You might be thinking, “So what? You’re lucky that there’s something about you that Americans find different/interesting/attractive.” Or you might be thinking, “Well maybe you were boring them to tears and they were just looking for a way to stop you from talking.” I happen to think that’s completely impossible. I have nothing but interesting opinions and hilarious jokes….ahem.

I’m also often asked if I can talk with an American accent? The answer to this, of course, is yes. The follow-up is usually one of two questions:

“Okay, can I hear it then?”

or

“Well then why don’t you speak like that all the time?”

This is then almost always followed with, “Why would you speak like you do when you can talk normally?”

At which I point I’ll make a sarcastic comment or give them my look of indignation…you know the one. If you don’t know the one, just strike up a conversation with a woman, and just as she’s about to give you her opinion of Atheism versus Agnosticism, say something like:

“Hey, lady, you have great tits–are they real?”

See what happens next, and then think of me.

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6 Responses

  1. I get it. You want to be treated like a …. wait….. could you just say aluminum one more time?

  2. In many cases it’s not so much finding your accent “cute” as it is an expression of certain American’s deeply closeted monarchist streak. Secretly longing for the days where most everyone on these shores spoke in that fashion.

    The irony here is that not everyone in the UK speaks in “that” fashion, leaving our poor, paparazzi-riddled brains befuddled if someone should point out that inconvenient fact.

    Love your blog! Always happy to see a new entry from you appear in my reader.

  3. I’ve watched it happen, and done it myself. Happily, I’ve stuck around long enough to hear your answers, and enjoy your company. Thanks, Matty~

  4. Not that I’m giving these people
    a pass, because their questions & requests
    go somewhere between stupid and insulting, BUT
    the thing about the American “accent” to
    American ears is that its so homogenized and
    generic. It really lacks any personality.
    Let them be fascinated, but put them
    in their place after that.

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