I think I’ve always been a person that picks up little bits of accents and speech when I move abroad. I think it is from my speech and drama training as a kid. While I think my parents sent me to those lessons so I would talk properly and be a confident speaker, it quite possibly made me equally susceptible to absorbing other people’s pronunciation and intonation quirks. Helpful when learning a foreign language, not so much for speaking Australian English.
I’ve had a few people question me about the veracity of my Australian citizenship as a result. Like this morning.
An old man at the bakery this morning told me I was definitely American when I was ordering a loaf of wholegrain and a strong coffee to go. I told him I was definitely Australian.
“Well, you sure as hell sound like a yank, love,” he said.
When I tried to explain that I was from Albury, he was even more incredulous.
“If you’re from Albury you should sound properly Australian. How did you get that bloody American accent in Albury?”
I just shrug.
He is genuinely shocked.
He looks me up and down while I wait for my change.
“Do ya watch a lotta telly or somethin’?”
“Only Aunty (slang for the ABC),” I replied. “I do have quite a few American friends though, maybe some of it rubbed off.” (I didn’t tell him that I had lived there for six months last year. It seemed too… obvious?)
“That’d be right,” he says with a huff. “Well, if you have to change your accent to make your friends feel bloody happy then you should tell them to bugger off home to America. It’s a shame, a young girl like you talken’ funny like that.”
It seems I have now written off my chances of the Australian dream or something, all by pronouncing a few extra “r” sounds in words…
Though honestly, I don’t think I sound American at all. My American friends don’t seem to think so either!