Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Do Californians have accents?

I had thought that, as far as Americans go, I'm accent-free. According to G&T, Californians generally are accent-neutral. Of course, she claims that it's officially "northern Californians," but we all know her bias toward the lesser part of the state, so we will ignore that modifier.

Of late, however, I have had some lengthy phone conversations with a Texan who swears up and down that I sound like a Valley Girl. Technically, I grew up 40 miles southeast of the Valley, but I guess that was close enough to rub off. At first, I disputed his assertion, because come on, how dumb do Valley Girls sound? But every time I say "totally," "awesome," or - his favorite - "oh my god," which is far too often, it only builds up his case further. I need to do some major editing of my vocabulary.

There was one notable time when I apparently had a major accent. A few years back, a bunch of us were vacationing in Cornwall, England. Cornwall is chock-full of little beach towns that are former pirate coves. We were in one where we were debating the merit of going in yet another pirate museum. The eight of us spent about ten minutes in the museum lobby, quizzing the ticket seller about various aspects of the museum and generally conferring on who felt up for doing what. Eventually, we got all our ducks in a row and I was nominated to make the ticket purchases. I chatted with the ticket-seller a bit - she had been quite patient with all our earlier questions - and found her fairly friendly.

Until she asked us if we wanted brochures. I replied in the affirmative. She then asked, "Can you guys read English?" I about took a swing at her and her taking a piss at our colonial accents. Just because we don't speak the Queen's English doesn't mean Americans' language skills are sub-par.

But I did restrain myself - didn't want to be another ugly American - and told her, rather coldly, that yes, we were capable of reading English. She looked rather surprised at my marked change in attitude and said, "Well, I just wasn't sure. I mean, you guys are Dutch, right?"


  • At 3:30 PM, Blogger Henry said…

    i guess you always have to look at things from different perspectives huh? but when you do which perspective do you go with?


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