29 March 2012

Accents and Britspeak

People back home keep asking me if I've developed an English accent yet. I laugh and say no, of course not. And of course I haven't, but I recently met an American who has been in the UK for several years who has definitely developed a mild British accent. It's interesting that some people are just more susceptible to picking up accents. I don't believe I'm one of those people, but maybe I'll find out that I am in a few years.

I do find myself using more British terminology on a day-to-day basis. And it's not really a function of trying to blend in, but rather an effort to have people understand me more easily and to draw less attention to myself. For example, today I was planning to drop off a note at a neighbor's house (the neighbor signed for a package of ours). I wrote it out once in American English, and then rewrote it in British English. This involved replacing "neighbor" with "neighbour," "package" with "parcel," "call me at" with "ring me on," and "pick up" with "collect." Four substitutions in a three sentence note! I'm sure I would have been fine with the American version, but I figured it was less conspicuous to just try and write it in Britspeak.

My husband is from a commonwealth country, and so it's also interesting to hear him dropping his American English and reverting back to Britspeak. It's happening pretty fast! By the time I'm next in the US (several months away), maybe I'll be amusing/annoying my friends and family with my talk of "loos," "flats," "hiring cars," etc.

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