Thursday July 14th, 2011

The exercise:

The word of the moment is: accents.

Feeling pretty on top of things in the garden right now. I just went out for an hour to finish off some weeding tonight and then decided to call it an early night. The rain encouraged this decision.

Of course this will all change by Monday morning, which will be the next time I'll be out there to weed. But for the moment, it feels good.


I can be quite the sponge sometimes.

For example, a good friend of mine in high school had a tendency to use 'princess' as one of his gentler insults. As in, "Let's hurry it up princess, we don't have all night." Whenever I was hanging out with him and he made use of it, I'd start using it as well, for at least the next few days.

In fact, I'll be honest, it still comes out of my mouth. Usually it's aimed at other drivers. "Oh come on princess" is a favorite for slow drivers.

Anyway. Something else I tend to absorb is accents. Tonight I was browsing Netflix for something to watch while I was eating dinner (hurry back soon, Kat) and decided to give The IT Crowd a shot. The first episode wasn't bad, I'll probably give it a few more to see if it can sink its hooks into me.

Back to the point. While I was out in the garden afterward I noticed that the majority of my thoughts were being expressed in a British accent. And when Kat's dad came over to talk to me about something I had to make a conscious effort to speak normally.

Does anyone else have this... attribute?

(That was me refusing to call it a problem)


Greg said...

I'm sure the weeds will wait till Monday. In fact, I reckon they'll invite their friends over so that you can all have a party when you next meet them :)
I have pretty much the opposite attribute to you: I find it very hard to do any kind of accent. I fall back to RP very, very quickly indeed, but I can hear subtleties of accent quite accurately.

I can be quite the sponge sometimes.

I was lying on the beach a few days ago, my hair doused in lemon juice and wrapped up in tin-foil scrunchies to help bring out some lighter accents when I fell asleep and the tide came in. When I woke up again, I was one hundred and forty pounds heavier and sloshed so much when I walked that I had people running off the streets hunting for public toilets all the way home. It took days to dry out, and after all that it turns out that black hair doesn't look so good with accents.
And last week! Oh, if I could only go back and undo last week! I was sat in Cushton's bar waiting for a friend, Isabelle Bonfontaine, listening to how the poetry slammers were using accent in their works, appreciating the emphasis on the more obscene lines in their oeuvres when this young girl sits down at my table and smiles winsomely. Before I knew it it was the end of the evening and I'd spent all of her money, exchanged most of her clothes for more drinks, and sold her off at a knock-down rate to one of the poets (Marc something, french-sounding name...). He had talent though.
Isabelle never showed.
I can be quite the sponge sometimes.

motherinToronto said...


As soon as I speak, people try to place my accent. I never quite drop an accent. People pick on up my years in Germany. Some cockney when I relax a little. My time in Devon. Bouncing around countries in my teens. Then pacing and correct Received English pronounciation from years of speech therapy; I became an expert at listening to avoid talking. Typically, Received English is strongest when I'm nervous. I was trained that I was allowed to be this. And now, I have pieces of a Canadian accent embedded in my speech patterns.

I don't pick up new accents quickly. I just blend them in. Changes happen slowly. After my father left the British army, my parents liked time spent overseas. 3 months in Spain, 1 month in France, 2 months in the US, 1 year in Canada, 6 months in England. Gradually scraping away at any sense of belonging. My accent tells people that I don't know where I'm from. But they still ask me anyway.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

Whenever I listen to/watch several things with British accents, I feel like I want to use one, but the stronger feeling I get is that I tend to think in a British accent.

So no, 'Loo, it's not just you.

I have this theory that there are certain words that sound better, or more "correct" in a particular accent. For instance, I feel weird hearing myself talk about Doctor Who in my "Inland North American" accent... It sounds "correct" to hear talk about the Doctor or the Tardis in British accents, and even Irish accents, but otherwise it sounds odd.

Likewise, I use "y'all" pretty frequently, and I'd think for some reason that it'd sound odd to hear somebody say "y'all" in most other accents besides American, or perhaps Canadian. I've yet to really test this theory, though.

Denin said...

Synchronicity. Two or more seemingly unconnected events coming together under extraordinary circumstances. I had never assigned it any real weight in my life. But that all changed the night the man with the heavy Cockney accent rolled into town.
His penny loafers were dirty and faded, and his tweed jacket torn at the shoulders and black at the elbows. He was tall, about 6-2, and thin. The kind of man whose intimidation is strong upon first encounter, but diminishes swiftly. Saying little, he appeared at my front door one night, asking for a bed to sleep in, nothing more. Against my instinct, I showed him to the guest room. The next day, he left early in the morning.
He walked out the door. A penny fell out of his pocket during his transition from the porch to the sidewalk. The rattle on the pavement was obvious and he turned around and bent down as if to pick it up. But about halfway down, he froze, and with a confused look on his face, pivoted back around and continued traveling. Puzzled, I stepped out my front door and examined the coin. There was nothing visibly wrong with it. As I turned around to head back in, I slipped it into my pocket.
Later that afternoon, I heard a sound like men shouting. curious I stepped out. Down the street, sprinting towards me was a man dressed in black, tailed closely by two policemen. In his hand he clutched a burlap sack that jingled as he ran. I knew that he had robbed the bank.
I did not move. I heard the man yelling at me to move. I did not. Suddenly, he was upon me. A tremendous force shot into my thigh. I cried out in shock and pain. The man was stunned and stopped his flee. The police wrestled him to the ground. And the penny fell out of my pocket where the knife had hit the Cockney man's penny.


I'm feeling kind of lazy today. Don't feel like detailing much.

Marc said...

Greg - you'll have to enlighten me. What's RP?

"... and sloshed so much when I walked that I had people running off the streets hunting for public toilets all the way home." :D

Mother in T.O. - "... I became an expert at listening to avoid talking." Heh, I can relate to that.

Beautiful ending lines as well.

g2 - hurray, I'm not alone! Also, I think this calls for Greg to record a video saying 'y'all' a whole lot and then post in on YouTube for us to see.

Denin - sometimes less detail is more appropriate. I think it was particularly fitting in the ending sequence, as it helped to speed up the pace as the action picked up.

Greg said...

RP is Received Pronunciation, the accent that you hear from the BBC (or heard from the BBC) about twenty years ago and earlier. It comes across today as a little posh, as it's quite precise and correct.
And... "y'all"? All I can think of now is Paula Deen....

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

@Greg: and y'all'd have to avoid using a American Southern accent... say it as "normally" as you can.

And what's neat about "y'all" is that you can tell how well a person knows how to use it: if they use "y'all" when talking to one person, and "all y'all" to a bunch of people collectively, they're using it properly.

Andrew said...

Lol, I'd love to hear Greg say y'all!

One thing that always confuses me about foreign languages is that they have accented syllables written into the rules of their language, like in Spanish. Spanish words automatically have the second-to-last syllable accented. Now, that's all fine and dandy, except then if there's an accent on any vowel, then you accent that syllable. This basically gets a, "What the heck?" reaction from me.

Marc said...

Andrew - I think we all would :D

Languages boggle my mind in general. But I'll always be thankful I didn't have to learn English as a second language.