Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Rain in Spain…
Have you ever noticed how strangely you talk? You may not think you do, but somewhere out there is an English speaker who thinks you have a strange accent. (And if you ever meet this person, you will think he or she talks funny, too.)

I don’t normally think my accent is weird, but twice I’ve managed to stay out of the country long enough, and meet few enough Americans, that I’ve been able to somewhat objectively hear what an American accent sounds like. And it’s a little funny. Not funny ha ha, like Glasgow, where they practically speak another language, but funny odd. Very flat, with twangy “A”s and growling “R”s.

Both times I’ve managed to return pretty quickly to thinking that North American English is the default way of speaking, and that everyone else in the world but me has an accent. Quickly I’m back to picking out regional American accents, and wondering if my dropped consonants and tortured “A”s are betraying my Massachusetts (MEEAsachoosetts) roots. (I love Massachusetts, and I’m not trying to hide the fact that I’m from there. I’d just rather you heard it from me, not my vowels.)

If you’re curious about what others think when they hear you talk, here is an interesting quiz that will give you some idea of what part of the United States you sound like you’re from.

Did you take it? I was pleasantly surprised to find that my accent is described as “Midlands,” which they describe as “another way of saying you have no accent.” Pipi was told she has a Boston accent, which isn’t really true, although I do like to try to get her to say the word “drawer” because unless she realizes I’m fishing for it, it comes out as a one-syllable word with an “A” at the end. (Which I love.)

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