Monday, November 21, 2005

Dave Gorman the mysteries of the English accent

Howled like a wolf with laughter at reading Dave Gorman's column in the Guardian on Saturday (travel section). Am sure that we are all guilty of blurring accents and dialects but this made me roar. On asking the umpteenth person who had mis-identified him as being Australian, why that was, Gorman got the following reply (and gave the most brilliant response):

"Well, I think I'm pretty good with accents," he said, and no one bothered to point out the obvious. "I know cockney and I know scouse, y'know, like the Beatles," he continued, "and you're neither of those so I ruled out England and thought ... I dunno ... maybe Australia?"

I stared back at him trying to work out how best to deal with the flaws in his not-exactly-Sherlock-Holmes-like logic. I mean it's not that he thought I actually sounded Australian ... it was just that when my bland, flat vowels weren't recognised as one of the two cartoon-English accents he knew, he just stuck a pin in his mental map of the English-speaking world. Should I explain that we have more than two whole accents in England? Should I ask him if he'd ever heard an Australian accent before? Eventually the silence was overwhelming and I had to say something ... one word fell from my mouth: "Strewth!"

Genius.

3 comments:

HolyhosesRob said...

That happened all the time when I was in the States. But, as my colleague Si just pointed out, in global marketing terms, we all live in Europe/Middle East/Africa/Asia Pacific/Australasia

Gordon said...

Try being Scottish with a fairly 'neutral' accent.

"Hey, are you from Englandshire?"
"No"
"Ohhh.. um... Europe somewhere?"
"Yes"
"Wow, you don't SOUND French..."

I'm sure some of my Welsh and Irish friends can identify.

Rob said...

You don't have to move around too much before your accent becomes sufficiently muddled-up to confuse other Brits. Some people reckon I sound Scottish (I don't but I use a lot of Scottish idioms after living here for 25 years), and others just get confused by the mix of Dorset/Manchester/Durham/London/Edinburgh, any one of which may come to the fore at any given time, especially if I'm talking to someone from that place.