Now I realise I have an English, regional accent – which is only natural after spending years surrounded by a rich yet subtle dialect. I call it subtle and delicate, as to my ears it has only the slightest twang about it, but to an outsider I guess it’s almost another language in itself.
I have always thought that other dialects and accents were much more pronounced and much harder to understand….maybe I’m biased but the Brummie accent you hear on TV is way too exaggerated, it would seem it has been distorted and magnified to such an extent that even I don’t recognise it as my own.
I vividly recall my first visit as a student to Wolverhampton – deep within The Black Country. Faced with the elongated vowel sounds of the locals, I felt like I had travelled to another world, yet this was just the beginning.
Until then I had been sheltered from the vagaries of the English accent, these were confined to TV programmes and with the increase of American shows, the regional accents of England and Britain in general had not figured greatly on my aural radar. I had learnt languages at school and was fascinated by the different sounds and would constantly mimic these at home, much to the joy (!!!) of my dear old Dad, who was surely glad to be deaf in one ear by the time I had finished my little performances. So off I went to study Spanish & German, little did I realise that the English language as I knew it was about to reveal itself in all its glory ….
By now I was used to the foreign accents of my European neighbours and was more than happy to chat away and used my newly discovered vocabulary. Speaking the foreign language with my fellow classmates was fine, the problem came when we each took turns to translate the phrases back into English. I say English, but seriously this is the point at which the regional accents of my fellow countrymen threw me a curve ball!
We were a very mixed bunch from all over the country and our accents were just as diverse. However one particular accent constantly got the better of me. The student was from Northumberland, Cumbria to be precise, about as far North as you can go before crossing the border into Scotland. Now his was an accent that I just could not grasp, when he spoke during the lesson in Spanish, I understood him quite easily, but in English …. never in the reign of pigs pudding! (now that’s proper Brummie dialect – meaning that it was never going to happen!!!)
Anyway, I digress …… I have been living in Spain for a while now, teaching the occasional Brit how to master a few phrases, when, one day a student of mine said that it was all my fault! Now what was I being accused of doing? Apparently he had been chatting to some Spanish locals in another province, who had asked him why he spoke Spanish with an Andalusian accent? Slightly taken aback he said that he was living in Valencia but that the fault lay at my door! You see, as a student I studied in Granada and must have acquired some of the regional quirks of that accent and had subsequently passed them on to him.
So, as I said as the outset …..I didn’t even know I had a Spanish accent …. but I’m very glad that I do!
Now, my Brummie tones are reserved then for those who can appreciate them and fortunately have not followed me to Spain …. that would be far too confusing!