Acute accent, as Rog would put it

A friend called in this morning.  She and her husband live most of the time in New Zealand – their daughter and her then boyfriend took a trip round the world and ended up there, where they now live, married, with their three daughters.  Sandra and Graham loved it so much that they spent more and more time there; a couple of years ago their respective mothers died and now they live there and visit here, rather than the other way round.  The Sage and Graham are great friends and still have long conversations on the phone.  Graham always used to help on sale nights, showing the china (holding each lot up as it’s auctioned) and giving it out to the buyers once they’ve paid.  Alex does this now.

Anyway, Sandra will be leaving again in another ten days – the Sage has promised to drop a catalogue in to her in a week’s time when they are back from the printer but I won’t see her for a couple of years, probably.  She’s become very integrated into New Zealand life, even having gained the accent.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how some people adapt their accent to where they are living and others never do.  I wonder if there’s a connection with how good you are at picking up other languages?  Or maybe it’s if you are, in the rather old-fashioned phrase, a people person.  Sandra spends a lot of time with her granddaughters and they were born in NZ.  It’s natural that she should adapt her speaking to theirs, in the circumstances (that she’s living in their country, I mean).

16 comments on “Acute accent, as Rog would put it

  1. julie

    I have read somewhere that there are people from certain places that are more likely to pick up accents. Don’t ask me where I got this idea, because I can’t remember to save mny life, but I am definitely one of those people. I have mostly lost any trace of Southern drawl, unless I’m talking to somebody there, or drinking. Ditto my old Chicago accent.

  2. savannah

    bits and pieces have slipped into conversation, but i’m still a california girl here most of the time, but surprisingly when i’m out in los angeles, everyone picks up on the southern sound…go figure xoxoxox

  3. allotmentqueen

    Because of my dad’s job we moved around a lot during my childhood. I went to 4 primary schools and 2 secondary schools, and so as not to appear “the new girl” for long I adopted whatever the local accent was. By the time my second sister was born we lived for a relatively long time (for her age 5-10) in Surrey and she has retained her Surrey accent ever since, which as we then moved to Cheshire was quite noticeable amongst them oop norf.
    I’ve always subconsciously adapted my accent to blend in, and also as you say because I’m a people person and find it easy to chat and make others at their ease. Occasionally, however, I’ve had to be careful with slightly touchy people with strong accents that they don’t think I’m taking the piss.

  4. wendy

    Two of my siblings ( older brother and younger sister) moved to NZ about 6 or 7 years ago. My sister has a definite soft NZ twang but my brother has retained his SA accent. My brother’s wife is also a bit Kiwified but my BIL (an Afrikaner) still sounds as if he is down on the farm in deepest darkest Afrikanerland.

    All their children sound like pukka Kiwis though and they weren’t that little when they moved there – most of them were in their teens at the time of the move.

    As for yours truly, I HATE my SA accent passionately but it refuses to be diluted by any sort of English overtones. Martin’s greatest joy this last month has been mimicking my mother and me – he has it down pat. And he refuses to stop, even though Mum has left us. Quite annoying. I would like to put a muzzle on him at times. (Clearly this accent thing is a sore spot.)

  5. Z

    I think that intonation is more likely to be picked up than accent, such as a drawl or the Australian inclination to rise questioningly at the end of a sentence.

    Wendy, you have the least accent of any South African I know. Do you remember, years ago you put up a clip of you talking – one of your sons kept interrupting you – and if I hadn’t known you were from SA, I wouldn’t have picked it up. Nor when I met you in person.

    Dave, of course you don’t. And you’re 11 years younger than I am. Mind you, I don’t think I have, except I’m told I talk posh. But when I was in India, it was sometimes hard to make myself understood because of my strong accent.

  6. Roses

    My accent is English/Norfolk when I’m here and reverts very quickly to broad Trinidadian when I’m there.

    When Boy was small, it used to confuse the hell out of him.

    I do pick up other people’s accents if I spend any time with them, which has the potential to annoy and insult. But it’s just me.

  7. Madame DeFarge

    I remain resolutely Scottish despite 11 years in England. However, when I moved from Glasgow to Edinburgh, my mother was convinced that I’d turned all funny with an Edinburgh accent. As if.

  8. Z

    I think that would be disconcerting for a child, Roses. But then fun. My father spent a lot of time ‘below stairs’ in his grandparents’ London house as a small child and was severely teased when he went to prep school speaking Cockney, so he had to change how he spoke rather rapidly.

    Hello, Madame, welcome – I can imagine that gaining an Edinburgh accent might be quite an affront to a Glaswegian! Mind you, I’m sorry to say that an Edinburgh accent can be easier for the English to understand than a broad Glasgow one.

    Er, LZM … once you’ve learned you never forget? – yes, I think that’s right. I can’t ‘do” other accents but I notice ones I’m fond of. Catch a West Country, Norfolk or Dutch accent on the radio and I’m right there turning the volume up.

    And proud of it too, Mago. I think that retaining a sense of regional identity is a fine thing.

  9. Z

    Yeah, I did. His name is on the sidebar however, both as Al X and Alex, so I don’t think he was that anonymous in the first place.


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