Sunday, 17 October 2010

Proper English In it?

Having been here in Cambridge for nearly six months, I've become accustomed to hearing American accents. But it seems that the English accent is still somewhat a novelty.

It's nice to hear, "oh I just love your accent!" and "I could listen to you talk all day, great accent." However, in comparison to Hubby, I reckon I sound very English as he has a northern twang to his dulcet tones. Obviously living in Blighty for a good many years, and having been married to Hubby for eight, I'm pretty used to hearing different regional accents, especially the Northern ones; so much so when a fellow Yorkshire mans bids me an "'ow do lass?" I know he's saying hello, how are you?

But like the UK, America has its regional accents too and I love hearing them and working out where people come from. And I'm not talking state accents; Boston and the surrounding area has its northern and southern regions like London and therefore regional accents. The ones heard around Cambridge are fairly neutral ones with the odd South Boston accent thrown in. What's a South Boston accent like I hear you ask? Well, its almost like a Brooklyn accent (and if you're not sure what that sounds like, tune into CSI: NY and listen to Danny) - but I wouldn't say that out loud as me thinks they (South Bostonians) may take it personally! They tend to exaggerate the vowels of some words or replace some letters with others; so "how are you?" becomes "how ah yah?", "Boston cream pie" is "Bawstin cream pie" and "chowder" is "chowdah"

On a daily basis, my interaction with the American public is limited and therefore the language used is, er...basic - everyone understands 'thank you', 'please' and 'can I please have a tall pumpkin spiced latte'. Whilst most folk around here say nothing about what or how I say things (I haven't quite drifted into a 'sow-fth' London twang as yet) it seems that Hubby has had to endure a constant (?) ribbing about certain expressions that he uses.

One day he came home (from work), saying that the guys didn't understand some of the things he said and started saying "guv'nor" to him. And, giving him an odd look when he said "half-past ten". I then looked at him with an odd expression on my face - what's wrong with saying half-past ten I cried (ok, more like asked but I'm prone to the dramatics). He said apparently, you just say ten-thirty....oh, right...I'm sorry...and the difference? A few days later he mentioned that he wasn't allowed to say 'bloody hell', apparently it was a disturbing phrase. Or something like that...odd people.

I said to Hubby that technically they shouldn't say "guv'nor" to you 'cause, well your Northern innit? They should really say things like, 'our lad' and 'fella'. Tell them that if they really wish to start with the taking the proverbial p*ss out of your accent then learn a bit of Northern. In fact, the next time they start, say "eh, blummin eck you lot, give over and shut yah cake 'ole about my accent." That should keep 'em quiet for a while 'cause they'd have no clue as to what you were talking about.

My dental nurse is originally from London and one time when I left the office, she said "you take care now and speak to you later." Nothing wrong with that but I think there was because as she passed by her colleague, she said to her, that she could say that because I'm from the UK and I wouldn't be offended. I was a little confused as I really didn't think she said anything offensive in the slightest! But I suppose it's the myriad of little phrases that makes the English language a difficult one to learn.

This teasing also got me thinking about my 'real' accent - the south London one, mixed in with a bit of east end slang - not the one that I call my telephone voice, which I use when out and about (and on the phone!) It seems that if I were to speak 'normally', my American allies would have even more of a difficult time understanding me! Ok, it's not that bad, but I have found myself on occasion having to speak a little slower to be understood!

If I thought about it I suppose I could get quite miffed, after all I'm speaking the Queens English...its the Americans that have added odd expressions, an 'ize' to most things and dropped the letter u. So, I reckon I should do the opposite of Professor Higgins' experiment; I'll find a Harvard student and teach them proper English. Cor, can you imagine? I tell yah mate, it would be a turkish bath listenin' to how much barney rubble they'd 'ave speakin' my language. And, I'd test 'em by takin' them to the local rub-a-dub with one of their china plates, ask 'em not to order a pint but a rosy lee, (convince 'em that an Ayrton Senna is not that much for a brew) get 'em to gregory peck it, leave before lager and lime but before we do, call the trouble and strife on the dog and bone, lettin' 'er that you're a bit strapped for bangers and mash and would she pick you up. *

Yeah, there's nothin' like the Queens English...the Pearly Queens English!

* In case you needed a translation....

Gosh, can you imagine my friend what a laugh (turkish bath) it would be to listen to how much trouble (barney rubble) they would have speaking English correctly. I'd take them to the local pub (rub-a-dub) with a mate (china plates) of theirs, ask them not to order a pint but a cup of tea (rosy lee) whilst convincing them that a tenna (ayrton senna) is not too much to spend, neck it (gregory peck) before time (lager and lime) is called but prior to that, call their wife (trouble and strife) on the phone (dog and bone) informing her that you do not have enough cash (bangers and mash) and would she pick you up?

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