Friday, August 13, 2010

I Think I'm Losing My Accent, Y'all!

Okay, it's not THAT bad.  Mostly because her's is put-on.  But the other day, I was talking to my brother on Skype (like, for real Skype, as in, talking Skype not instant messaging like I do with my mom because we verbal vomit every part of our day to each other) and I heard giggling coming from the other end.  "What?" I asked, annoyed.  "Jaime, you like, have a British accent now," my brother laughed.  I considered jumping from my bedroom window (which wouldn't do much since I'd land on a shrub in the garden and probably break both my legs or possibly my pelvis).  "NOOOOOOOO!!!" I howled into my computer.  "What is it?" I asked frantically.  "Is it a certain word?  The intonation?"  "Everything," he replied.

You see, I work hard to preserve my American accent.  My pet peeve are people like Madonna (above) and Gwyneth Paltrow who speak in this strange trans-atlantic accent.  It sounds horrible.  But it's difficult when I interact and speak to people with British accents 99.9% of the day, every day.  Even most of the Americans I work with have a little hint of British influence in their accents.

What a lot of people don't know about me though, is that I often sit in the bathroom or bedroom alone and say words aloud to myself, trying to painfully re-educate my tongue into saying words the American way.  Problematic ones include:

1)  Literally -  Brits say: "Litrally."  We say: "Lid-er-ally."

2)  Renaissance -  (yeah, I know, I don't slip it into conversation all the time, only occasionally)  Brits say:  "Ren-AY-sahnce."  We say: "Renehsahnce."

3) Any word with a 't' in it - like, "water".  And this is the worst one.  Every time I go to a restaurant, I become horribly self-conscious and aware that I'm saying, "wahder" instead of "wah-ter". 

4) Schedule - Brits say: "shhe-dule."  We say:  "Skeh-dule."

5)  Massage - Brits:  "MA-ssage."  Us:  "Ma-SAHGE."  (same for the word "garage").

I had a fifteen minute conversation with John the other day about the difference in the way the English pronounce "paw" and "pore".  I cannot, for the life of me, hear the difference.  Same with "law" and "lore".  My favorite experience was being put through to an automated system on the phone with my bank.  "If you'd like to speak to an advisor, say, 'advisor'," it said.  "Advisor," I said, in my normal, American accent.  "I'm sorry, I did NOT understand you," the cheery robot voice told me.  "If you'd like to speak to an advisor, say, 'advisor'," it repeated.  "Ad-VI-sohhhrrr," I said, in my poshest, fakest, English accent.  "Thank you," came the response.  "We will put you through to an advisohhhrr."

Sometimes when I'm practicing by myself, I think I'm going crazy.  And when I hear Americans on the street, their accents seem really, really pronounced.  When I go home and watch the news on TV, I become fixated on the "r"s - I can't listen to anything else.  They're magnetizing.  A few weeks ago, I was standing in line (sorry, QUEUING UP) behind some American girls at Banana Republic and I was like, "Wow.  Did I sound like that once upon a time?"  They didn't really speak with any vowels:  "Cassie.  That is like rly, rly, sooooo ca-utttte on you.  Srsly, it's rly rly gd.  I lv it.  Do you lv it?"

Check out the way LC talks below:

Hey, at least my British accent is better than John's American accent.  I can't believe he's been with me for - what, almost six years? And every time I ask him to do an American accent, he adopts a false shouty voice impersonating a cowboy from a Texan ranch and always involves the words, "gun", "shooting", "cow" and "hey guys".  Srsly.

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