Accent Tag?

My family spent an extensive portion of my formative years living in America. I was 3 years old when we first arrived and I was 8 when we finally came back to New Zealand, so it’s safe to say that the Californian accent was pretty ingrained at this point. Shucks even now, 16 years since we lived in the states (with the occasional visit here and there) I still have a bit of an American twang. I still get asked if I’m American, or whether I’m American Samoan (even the notion) and I’ve come to just accept it. Which is a little unfair because when I visit family in the US I’ve been mocked for my Kiwi accent and yet in New Zealand I’m questioned about my American twang. As a kid growing up I always felt a bit alienated because of this, nowadays it’s a great conversation starter. Not that I actively seek out social interaction. What on earth do you take me for? A fully functional human being? Preposterous!

Anecdote: I worked part time in a retail store all through college (high school) and university. One of my jobs was to make the announcements over the intercom. I’ll be honest, for the most part I dicked around and used ridiculous accents, it got to the point where it would just sound weird if I spoke normally. Despite this, I’d only been complained about all of three times, only two of which were valid. That is, when I made an announcement with an Indian accent, when I made an announcement with a really really bad Russian accent and finally when I spoke without attempting any random accent at all. The first two were valid complaints, the third one notsomuch. I can understand people picking out fake Indian accents (unless I’m the super vedi good?) and the really bad Ruski accent, however some customer complained after I made an announcement in my normal speaking accent. It was ‘really bad because [I] was trying too hard to do a Canadian accent and that it was offensive and just the worst attempt at an accent [they’d] ever heard.’ The only person offended that day was me.

 

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