Hello and hi. Someone once told me that I had an ‘awesome accent.’ I found this mildly amusing as I do not consider myself to have an accent at all. You see, I hail form the Eastern Seaboard in the United States (the East Coast) and my accent is not as strong as my American brothers and sisters who live down South, up North or in the Midwest.
So I don’t really consider my accent overly American, as it is ‘soft.’ And while I am understandably American in my habits and preferences-this is not so in my speech and the words I use, to describe something. That being said, I rarely notice British accents (maybe I have been here too long). Allow me to rephrase that-I rarely notice English accents-however, Scottish and Welsh accents are distinctly different and certainly get my attention. Further, sometimes when Scottish people speak to me, I have a hard time understanding them-their accent mixed with the words/slang that they use and which I have not heard before or am unfamiliar with. In fact, I have no idea of what they are even saying. I usually nod and smile sweetly. This would explain why I now own 3 bagpipes and 2 highland sheep. I kid.
Accents are kind of a big deal here in the UK. The moment you open your mouth to speak-the person you are talking to, will know where you are from, what type of school you went to and probably your profession. Crazy, right? But the same could be said back home in the US. But on this not so small island, when you speak , you are of course heard, listened to and probably judged. You subsequently receive a label. Good luck trying to shed the label bestowed upon you. Anyway, I have heard the following many times:
- ‘Oh he has a posh accent’
- ‘Guess he went to public school’ (public school means ‘private’ here)
- ‘I think he is from East London’
- And the list goes on…judge much? Yup, pretty much.
Am not sure if people are just curious or they mean to judge you, right off the bat. Perhaps it is a combination of the two.
Recently, it was reported that Donna Air’s-(a tv personality, model and she has probably written a cook book too) accent has changed dramatically. You see Donna Air is originally from Newcastle. These days, our Donna is dating the brother of Kate Middleton-James Middleton. They say her accent is terribly posh now and there is not a trace of her Newcastle accent (Geordie accent) left. This is probably because she is hanging out with the Middletons who of course hang out with the royal family. I mean, when in Rome…right? It seems only natural that Donna’s accent was going to change. Here is the lovely couple pictured below.
Uggh, I can’t even with James’ beard, but I digress, as per usual.
Like I said, I barely notice accents anymore. But usually my American accent will raise eyebrows. My own family members tell me- that in person and over the phone I sound American but when I am in England I sound very English. Sheesh. Again, when in Rome..right? That being said, I was once told that I sounded like Lady Cora from Downton Abbey. When I heard that, I gave a rather genteel smile and said, ‘Thank you ever so much. That is terribly kind of you’ in my best British English… but the American voice in my head said, ‘Cool! Thanks. Gee! Really nice of ya’…and of course there was an ‘Awesome!’ Thrown in for good measure. I mean…I am an American. Lady Crawley, I am not. Nope.
Anyway, if I were you- I wouldn’t pay too much attention to people’s accents or try to figure out their entire life story from their accent. Just listen deliberately and speak using measured tones. In brief: Speak your truth. That is all.