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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.