Accents. A weird thing.
We hear people from other countries talk in our language with an accent – and we have a feeling about it right away.
French talking a foreign language: sexy
Italians talking a foreign language: sexy and sympathetic. Makes you think of pizza and Aperol Spritz.
English and Americans talking a foreign language: funny, in a positive way.
Swiss: always sound so sweet, even if they swear or insult you
But not all accents always sound positive to us, isn’t that right? Talking as a Western European, I know that accents from Eastern Europe tend to bring up negative connections. Why so ever. Because what’s the difference between a French and a Polish accent? We find one more beautiful, the other uglier. One we connect with positive associations, the other with negative. (Polish was just an example)
How are your feelings towards certain accents? Are there any you particularly like or dislike?
I try very hard to free myself from prejudices I might have when somebody talks to me with his country in his language.
Actually it is even a good thing, isn’t it? If you think about it – isn’t it a cool thing to carry your homeland in your speech?
… and then it comes to my own accent
My own accent in foreign languages is something I hate from my guts. Because I used to NEVER have one.
When I was 22 years old, I spent one year in Los Angeles in California, working for an advertising agency as an intern. And I had no accent in my English at all. Exept of a Southern Californian one. In fact, US-americans, after hearing me talk, asked me if I was from Souther California. My English was perfect, and I was very proud of it.
Now? A couple of days ago, one of my diving customers asked me where I was from. I replied with: Austria. And she was like „Ah, Austria. I heard a German accent, but I couldn’t tell if it was Germany or Austria.“
**very very annoyed glance**
Or: French. With 24 years I did a six week language trainign programme in Montpellier, Languedoc-Roussillon in France. Although my French never reached my level of English, I was fluent in daily conversations.
One day I went into a clothes store, and at the cashiers desk I was asked for my loyality card. So I replied that I didn’t have one, as where I come from, this chain doesn’t have stores.
And the employee answered: „But we have stores all over France, I am sure, there’s one closeby your home.“
And now? I try to get a straight French sentence out, and Thibault (my co-instructor) says: „Oh, you have a very funny accent“.
With his French accent of course.
**even more annoyed glances**
Accept it and get on with it
That sounds easy, huh? For me it is not. I HEAR my own accents in English and French. And my mistakes. The more tired I am, the worse it gets. But the accent doesn’t disappear, even if I have slept like a baby for 10 hours.
I SOUND GERMAN, OMG. That’s hard for an Austrian. (Sorry to all of you Germans out there)
I am not growing younger, chance is high, that I will not get my freedom of accents back. Honestly, I have lived in Malta now for three months, I talk English ONLY. And my accent is dancing salsa.
Embrace your flaws, people. I really mean it. Is is just so much harder to to it yourself than to give that easy advice…