Absolute Beginner: The Adventures of a Middle-Aged U.K. Newbie

[Blogger’s note: I was born and raised in America, moved to Canada for love in the early Aughts, and recently relocated again, in my 50s, with my British-born spouse to the southern coast of his homeland. This is an occasional series about learning new tricks in Merry Old England.]

Wait, I Have an Accent? How the British React to an Alien Voice in Their Midst

1510920403-picsayIf you heard me talk, you probably wouldn’t be able to guess right away where I’m from. I was born in Texas and throughout my childhood my family moved all over the American South, from Florida, back to Texas, to Florida again, then to Tennessee and finally to Georgia, where some of my relatives still live. By rights the words I utter should be as drenched in drawl as those of that Clampett clan who loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly—Hills, that is. (Swimming pools. Yada-yada.) Yet due to a fluke of nature, or perhaps congenital obstinance, I’ve resisted the Dixie diction and speak in a voice that is only fleetingly Southern, meaning a twangy syllable might slip out when I’m angry or tipsy, but of course I’m hardly ever either. (Insert winky emoji here.) The rest of the time, it is rather featureless. I asked my spouse to describe my voice and he deemed it “sonorous, uninflected, middle-American.” Notice he didn’t add “irresistibly sexy” and “almost frighteningly macho,” but that’s a topic for another, more private discussion between us. I’m confident in the assertion that, compared to many people from my native region, I have gone through most of my life pretty much accent-free.

Then I moved to the U.K. Continue reading