Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hearing Your Own Accent

After having spent the weekend in London, I found this article in The New York Times on the connotations of the English Accent. It was an odd bit of synchronicity, since while I was there I found myself wondering what an American accent sounds like. Or, more to the point, how my accent sounded to them.

The English Accent, or should I say accents to include the various class versions, Cockney etc., not to mention the accents of Great Britain, is such a staple of American pop culture--signifying everything from snotty rebellion (The Sex Pistols) to dignity and education (Rupert Giles, etc.) Now I wonder what my accent signifies to them, American brashness and idiocy? If there is one thing that being awake at three in the morning in a hotel room in London teaches you, is that the British are exposed to a great deal of American pop-culture. During one night of jetlag and pre-conference jitters, I flipped through several American movies (Jaws 2, The Perfect Score, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) not to mention The Simpsons and other programs. Like much of the world the British are drowning in the dregs of our pop culture. Have you seen The Perfect Score (or The Breakfast Club versus the SAT)? There is no reason for that movie to exist. Then again it was on at three in the morning, so it is not like anyone was watching it.

It is perhaps an impossible task, to hear one's own accent. To not only hear it as an accent, but as an accent layered with various cultural and political connotations. It is not like the British walk around and think that they sound so intelligent and dignified, or maybe they do.

By the way Jean-Jacque Lecerle is a really funny guy, who knew?

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