The Blog of Dabido (the Baka one). Everything in this blog is copyrighted. Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006 by D. Stevenson.

18 April, 2005

A Little Story About Accents

Today, I was working in a factory (yes, in a factory), and the guy I was working with thought I was English. (Yes, English). Funny thing is, all English people can hear my Aussie accent. Yet, almost everyone else in the world, thinks I am English, as I have a slight English accent. The English people obviously can't hear it, as they always tell me I don't sound English at all. A funny thing happened a few years ago. One of my drinking buddies was a Canadian (yes, from Canada), and her Canadian friends thought she sounded really Aussie. When she told us, we all laughed, as we could hear her accent play as day ... she was definitely Canadian. Then, when she was talking, I decided to listen really hard, and I noticed something. I realised, that a lot of her speach did have some Aussie accent in it. It was only noticable when I listened for it. I refer to this as listening in the gaps. Basically, listening to the bits which didn't sound Canadian. There it was, an Aussie accent. Then I realised why it is that where ever I go in the world, people who aren't English always hear my English accent, while the English can't hear it. It's because we are so acustomed to hearing words spoken a certain way, that we ignore it. Yet, we can easily hear the things which sound different and exotic to our ears. Thus, when my Canadian friend speaks, we Aussies only hear her Canadian Accent. When she talks to her Canadian friends, they can only hear her Aussie accent. When I speak, Aussies usually know that I am well spoken for an Aussie, yet people (like the Zimbabwian today could easily hear my English accent.) Don't get me wrong, I don't sound like a typical pomy (to use the Aussie slang for English Person. Read it as Limey if you're from the US). For years it was funny, as I was always being mistaken for English when I first returned to Aussie from Malaysia as a kid. I also played soccer and our school was 50% Aussies and 50% English (with some other nationalities thrown in for good measure). Sounding English, and NOT playing Aussie Rules like the other Aussies automatically made the Aussies at school assume I was English. Where, I hear you ask, did my English accent come from? Well, my mother is English, and to a certain extent, this played a part in my accent. The other thing was, I grew up from 4 to 7 and a half years of age in Penang Malaysia. So I was isolated from the Aussie accent and culture for a few of my formative years. Thus, when I speak I say "Dance", "Plant" and some other words in a rather posh sort of a way (having family from Southern England and London areas. Plus an Aunty who tries to talk like the Queen. My mother refers to this as "putting on the dog". An obvious English saying, which I'll be damn as to it's origins). So, once again I've been mistaken for an English tourist in my own country, while every English person I know thinks it's weird, as I don't sound remotely English to any of them! :-)