More about bread…

Sorry Jen, the title lied: I can’t think of anything else about bread right now. Except that I wish I had some “bread of the gods” (as Mrs Elbeno and I know it – Sainsbury’s unsliced granary loaf to the rest of the world) in the cupboard. If so, I would be a bread-muncher right now.

Anyway the more accurate title of this update would be: Turning Native or Not? It’s been almost two years, and my neural pathways are still resolutely British about some things.

Even now, if I’m not thinking about it quite hard, I write down the date the wrong (the right!) way around. Happened just yesterday.

I still say “shedule” rather than “skedule”, “zed” rather than “zee” and of course a hundred other Britishisms. I still spell the British way: always -ise rather than -ize and -our rather than -or. And here’s the thing: I do this without thinking, rather than in some attempt to hold on to my British identity. If I’m talking to someone and they just said “zee” then I am likely to say “zee” too. But left to my own thought patterns, the British way comes out without my noticing. The two people I talk to most often at work are actually Canadian, so that’s just fine.

The other day I made some email joke about the Four Yorkshiremen sketch, and email tumbleweeds blew by. Did my joke fall on barren ground? Or did the workaday business merely spring up and choke it? Where I come from, people launch into the Four Yorkshiremen sketch as quickly as thinking.

I still can’t remember whether “a quarter of four” means quarter to, or quarter past, four o’clock. I don’t hear it much around these parts though.

And yet, it seems to me that I already have a mid-atlantic accent. I can hear my own speech and it’s definitely different from how it used to be. The first symptom is Ts changing to Ds.

Should I just go with the flow? I just sound fake to myself, which makes it hard. It’s getting so that when I talk to someone Californian, it’s “hey dude”, but when I’m talking to someone British, it’s “awwright?”

2 Responses to “More about bread…”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Go with the flow Ben and don't stress about it! Remember that you have been married to an American for a long time and Becky's accent is bound to rub off on you. In fact I can definitely remember some of your Ts being Ds back in Parkhurst Drive… maybe it was when you were talking about American stuff, I don't know. Due to growing up in Yorkshire, Herefordshire and Pembrokeshire at various times in my life before living in the Sarf East for ages, I notice my accent changing too depending on who I'm with. If I'm with family up North or friends from Pembrokeshire those accents definitely appear to a certain extent. And the Park Barn influence made itself felt too – Ben was always telling me off for dropping Ts from the middle of words. When he first met me and I was fresh out of Pembs I'd say “bet-ter” with a little rest between the Ts but after 3 years in the Barn it was “be-er” “bu-er” etc. Just go with the flow. Strewth, does that mean I'm going to start sounding Aussie soon? Love, Emily x


  2. Anonymous says:

    I'm kind of the same – if I'm talking to a Canadian I try to avoid using words and phrases that they don't get or will think are funny, just to make my life easier. I even found the other day that I was struggling to remember the word 'courgette' as I was staring at what my brain now tells me is 'zucchini'!

    But accent is a difficult one and I know what you mean about sounding fake to yourself. I met an English woman from Oxford the other day who has only been here 3 years yet had a very North American accent. She claimed this had happened naturally but I didn't really believe her – 3 years does not wipe out 30. The day I start pronouncing 'what?' as 'whet?' in that particularly dumbass (dumbarse?) teenage West Coast way is the day I get my mouth sewn up.



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