“I love your Aussie Accent!”

Sometimes when I meet someone new here I have this terrible moment of realisation when they say something like “I’ve always wanted to visit Sydney” that they have misinterpreted my British accent as Australian. I don’t have anything against Australians of course but I’m really awkward and when that happens I am left with three choices.

1) Change the subject and hope it doesn’t come back up ever.
2) Say loads of really Australian things and hope they don’t realise their error.
3) Let them know that they made a mistake and that I’m from a country where running out of biscuits to dip into tea is the biggest daily peril and not loads of deadly animals.

What would you do in this situation? Usually I go for number one or number three because I don’t think I could succeed with the second option without dying of laughter. Today I was asked what part of Ireland I was from and I simply responded with England because I didn’t want to let him tell me about how he is one thirtieth Irish and be disappointed after. I feel bad for correcting people but it seems more honest than going along with it. The one time I was asked if I was French I just laughed, I don’t really know what else I could’ve done.

I’ve often thought about what I could do to help people identify my accent so that I don’t have to correct them or avoid them forever. I could walk round draped in the British flag or carry a portrait of the Queen around with me but as the Queen is the head of state of Australia and the British flag is on the Aussie flag this might not help. I could say really British things to leave people in no doubt as to my identity but I have had a number of people say “that is the most British thing I’ve ever heard” when I’ve said something so I clearly already do this.

Why does it happen? I guess it might be because my accent isn’t the standard British accent seen in American films of received pronunciation or Cockney. If you ask me I don’t even have a bloody accent at all!

21 thoughts on ““I love your Aussie Accent!”

  1. I’m French, and during these last two years in Finland and Denmark, communicating in English, people never guessed I was French (something I’m quite proud of, to be honest), or wouldn’t believe it when I told them.
    One day, though, I was asked whether I was Czech… I was so surprised by the question (I mean, Czech?), the only thing I could reply was “Sorry?”. He then asked where I came from, and said he would have never guessed. I guess French people with a not-too-French accent are rare, but my English is far from perfect, that can’t be the only reason for these reactions. Anyway, this makes for good stories to tell, so I can’t complain ^^

  2. If you had a Scottish accent not only would you get mistaken for Irish/English/Australian but also German. Also my As obviously sound like Es to the American ears as I’ve now had to start spelling my name as “A for Apple, L B A for Apple”

  3. I’m from NW England and often travel in the USA. I’ve been identified as South African, Australian and often Scottish. My favourite comments have been: ‘you speak the Queen’s English’ (not exactly) and ‘how do you say my name in your language?’

  4. Despite the UK having a plethora of different accents, which we can relatively easily identify even if we can’t replicate, I’m not sure north Americans can spot the difference. I think the phonemes in many UK accents are very similar to each other but still somehow different to US accents (I work for a US speech analytics company in the UK).

    1. This is totally true. There are a some US accents that I can’t tell apart although I think the ubiquity of US pop culture in TV and film makes it an easier job for us to spot a US accent!

  5. This is hilarious! I don’t think I have an accent either (west coast US) but a Canadian told me I did. I think there’s a stereotype phenome for many languages because of media. My friend in Australia is annoyed by the “G’day Mate!” crap and says no one she knows talks like that (except maybe “tradies”- her words, not mine!) Anyway, I vote for spouting out DIDGERIDOO!

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