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Posted by Lotg on October 24, 2003

In Reply to: Untouchable? posted by Anders on October 24, 2003

: : : : : : : In an earlier thread, Anders mentioned that even though he learnt English in Scotland he doesn't have a Scottish accent. But I asked how he knew.

: : : : : : : I once worked for a german born man, named Bernie. Bernie moved to Australia just before the 2nd world war because he could see the writing on the wall. I was only 20 at the time, so alas I must confess that was 25 years ago. Therefore Bernie had to have been in the country for some 40-odd years.

: : : : : : : One day when he asked me and another staff member to do something, we misunderstood what he said. When he realised he asked why we didn't understand him, and we said it was because of his accent, that we often had trouble with certain words he used. He was horrified and insulted. He stated, in a very thick gutteral accent, zat he has no accent and he shpeaks eccsactly like Oshtralians!!! He was very touchy about it, so we backed right off.

: : : : : : : However, I have other friends, originally from non-English speaking countries, who tell me they're unaware of their accents.

: : : : : : : And when I spoke French in France, I can't really say that I was aware of my own, no doubt very Australian, accent.

: : : : : : : Strangely though, I am aware of my accent within the bounds of my own country. ie. I can hear that I speak like a girl from the Victorian bush, because I can hear that I sound different to people raised in other parts.

: : : : : : : So how many people can be truly aware that they have an accent?

: : : : : : Hi Lap,
: : : : : : Good one! I'm heading off to work, but will return later in the day. Meanwhile, let me remind people trying to judge their own accents that there's a huge difference between listening to yourself as you speak and listening to a recording of your voice. Obviously, your evaluation should base itself on the latter.
: : : : : : Anders

: : : : : I speak passable German - I have a German wife. One day when buying something in a shop in her parents' home town the shopkeeper asked me 'do you come from Holland?'!! Praise indeed - he didn't recognise me as an Englishman speaking German. This has happened more than once - double praise.

: : : : I have never noticed Lap typing with an accent - so I would never have guessed she had a Victorian Bush accent. I come from a town to the north of London, but when I moved sixty miles south, nobody thought I was from out of town - yet, before that I had moved 60 miles north and been entirely detectable as a non-native, whilst a student. Now 18 years later, I can really tell that my voice has changed - to my ear, it sounds much more precise when I speak and yet when I listen to taped radio broadcasts, much deeper and more resonant than I would suspect.
: : : : There is quite a considerable variation within a 40 mile radius of London, which is amazing as these days a local area has people from so many places. Accent-wise, the oddest thing I heard was meeting a West Indian for the first time. He was white and sounded the same as his coloured compatriots. I had never heard a white West Indian and had always thought of the accent as belonging to black-AfroCaribbean culture. No reason to make that assumption, but I had.

: : : While vacationing in London a couple years ago, I found it amusing that some of the English I met had a hard time understanding my American (Detroit, Michigan)accent. They'd ask me to slow down when I spoke, or would say "Come again?" I dunno, I just figured I had a plain straight-forward manner of speaking. Then I visited Paris, and well, forget about it. I couldn't communicate much at all. I just ate crepes, saw the Eiffel Tower and went home.

: : Holy Guacamole - I just read Anders' reply and I aint touchin' that one. It's probably a Danish thing. I've heard about you Scandinavians.

: : Ha ha, I'll have to watch that typing accent of mine too.

: : As for Yankee Doodle, I love the way you got around your accent problem. Crepes - sounds perfect to me. Actually, just to pat myself on the back a bit (well only half really), apparently my french accent was so good, that they thought I was French - but before you all reel in horror at my bragging, the downside of this was that they would relax and speak so quickly that I didn't have a hope in Hades of understanding what they were talking about. Whenever I'd then explain that I spoke either very little or very bad French, they'd exclaim in astonishment that I sounded French (so I guess the Aussie accent thing wasn't really an issue). So apparently I sound good in French, it's just a crying shame that I have no idea what anyone was talking about - he he! So like you Yankee Doodle, I ended up resorting to food - which in France isn't a real tough sentence.

: "Ain't touching that one." You don't say! Yeah, we're pretty untouchable up here. (I take comfort from the fact that "untouchable" has a double meaning.) Anyway, you started it, you know, by "kicking" in the unfenced paddock. BTW, my "untouchable" post seems to be delightfully hidden from the longer thread, leaving casual readers wondering what the hell this is all about...
: Best
: Anders

Not just the casual readers. I'm pretty bewildered too. But you know what might be the thing here. We're both close to some arctic region. You're near the top one and I'm near the bottom. Maybe being near the poles makes one's head go a bit strange.

I've always had this private theory that it's no coincidence that Aussies share a similarly strange sense of humour with that of northern Canadians, Alaskans, Kiwis and Scandinavians. And I think another thing we share is a more relaxed attitude. And furthermore - we don't do wars. Not to say we don't participate, cos obviously we do (probably more us than you guys actually). But within our own countries, we're pretty relaxed. Yeah I know, you guys had Vikings and stuff, but that's a while ago now.

I do sometimes ponder these similarities, but then I'm a bit weird like that.