Saturday, November 10, 2007

I know I tend to be pissy to begin with, but...

I am picky about my languages. I don't like it when I am abroad and people who have just discovered I am American then say I have a strong American accent. I don't I have a strong American accent. No one would think I am English (though I could pass for a while after my year in Brighton), and I have an American accent, but it is not a strong one and it is not a regional one (neither Midwestern, New York or Long Guyland).

Since studying in Austria I have had a few Germans try and convince me I have an Austrian accent. This requires some back story. When I was in Austria my classmates would laugh at me for pronouncing Austrian colloquialisms in too German a fashion. My Austrian German teacher told me I was in Austria and needed to speak more like an Austrian. Austrians thought I was German. Germans thought I was German. No one thought I was Austrian and as Austrians are none too fond of Germans, I often got the cold shoulder because of this. Fine, whatever. Really don't care. Fast forward to recent events when Germans have been trying to convince me I have an Austrian accent (granted one person only said it after I mentioned I had lived in Vienna, but other people have really meant it). Basically these events make me understand why the Austrians hate the Germans so much(besides World War II). Austrians find Germans to be pretentious.

When I was in Moscow a German said to a good Austrian friend of mine "wow, you speak pretty good German." This is along the lines of an English person telling an American "wow, you speak pretty good English." Anyway, my Austrian friend did not take to kindly to it especially as the implication was that the German did not expect Austrians to speak anything but hick German. Germans can also found Austrian German to be cute, which is why a few people have told me I should keep my "Austrian accent." But I am not cute. I do not do cute.

I should close with some parallel for French or Russian, but I don't really have one. After having an African French teacher and listening to a lot of Congolese rap I thought I might have picked up a bit of an African accent, but I am pretty sure my existing American accent was strong enough to overpower that.In terms of Russian, I had teachers who tried to blame mistakes I made on the Russian they speak in Central Asia, which was mainly just racist. Though in Kazakh my accent was apparently perfect which is probably a reason why I don't want to continue with it (so I can just go on thinking I could always speak my few Kazakh phrases without an accent).

All of this is pretty much a moot point though as my language are going to shit. I don't speak any of them long enough these days to get back into the linguistic rhythm.

2 comments:

~*~*Watah a' run go a punkin belly*~*~ said...

Cute? Naw.. Adorable? Yes! In a pissy Oscar the Grouch, Bert of Bert and Ernie kind of way.
Although, I have heard several people describe you as 'cute'. So, it must be true. Although you can hide it very well when you want to!

Sebastian said you have a Swiss accent, and he is Austrian. So add that to your list of accents.

Barbarossa said...

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Swiss? That is even worse. That is even worse. That is literally a nice way of telling someone they talk funny/ I've experienced it. Sigh. I'm not talking to anyone in a foreign language for a while.

Though come to think of it I have an accent in English that confuses people. Maybe speaking with a non-specific regional accent is a me thing.


I shall now return to hiding by "cuteness" and climb back into my garbage can.