Monday, 18 November 2013

Accents and Self-Acceptance

Thanks to the SNL skit about Rob Ford, I've come across a couple of articles about the Canadian accent, of course staunchly declaring that we never say "aboot."  I don't care about that (although the only Canadians I've ever heard using anything close to that pronunciation are my Scottish-born grandparents, and I grew up calling a lazy susan a "roonaboot").  But I have had a post about accents lurking in the back of my mind for a while.

When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to have an accent.  My family went to Australia for two months when I was ten years old, and within two weeks, I had picked up what I thought was an authentic Australian accent (I'm sure it wasn't).  I've always kind of picked up some traits of whatever accent surrounds me (I still say "Tin-ih-see" instead of "Tennessee" after a week spent in Knoxville).

But for everyday life, I was desperate to have some kind of accent.  British, preferably, but I would have settled for Southern or something too.  My problem was that I can't fake an accent to save my life.  I have to be immersed in it in order to pick it up.

Fast forward twenty years.  Of course I don't care about accents anymore, other than noting the beauty of the way people from different areas speak.  I live in the city, but I was raised in a much smaller community for most of my childhood.  And I recently realised that I do have a slight accent, compared to my city-raised friends, or at least my ideal of how English should be pronounced.  You could call it "country" or "wrong-side-of-the-tracks" or something like that.  Specifically, I pronounce "for" and "your" as "fer" and "yer" when I'm not paying attention.  "Our" is pronounced  as the one-syllable "are", much to my Eastern-raised husband's annoyance.  I'm sure there are other things I don't pronounce strictly as they should be.  My grandparents, who lived across the street from us, had a noticeably "Canadian" accent, so I'm sure mine draws from that, as well as many other sources.

This used to embarrass me, and I still try to correct myself when I remember.  I'm usually quite precise in my speech, so I was shocked when I noticed my less-than-precise pronunciations.  But I've decided to embrace this side of myself.  There is nothing wrong with a country dialect.  And I tell myself it makes me more interesting.

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