Ac’centuate the Positive

Since accents have played a major part in my life, I would be surprised if they had not come up here before. 

Hello, my name is Tonette, and I pick up accents. 

Do any of you do this when speaking to people with another accent from yours? 

How about watching movies or listening to audiobooks or podcasts? 

It took me until I was a young teen to realize that I was doing this. When I brought it up to family, oh, they had noticed, they had noticed. Apparently, I had been a born mimic; I’ve always been able to do many other voices or copy some. 
Why didn’t they stop me? They found it amusing, a quirk, and my family seldom called anyone down. 
 I found myself highly embarrassed more than once. 

If you heard me speak, you’d wonder why, if I can do other voices, I sound like I do. My default speaking voice is not the nicest in the world, (and easily recognizable), but what can I do, except to slow down and measure every sound that comes out of my mouth and remember to speak in one particular way… 

it’s unsustainable, take my word for it. 

Nevertheless, as I grew up Washington, DC area, (if by chance there is anyone reading this who does not know by now), we had people there from all over the country and  all over the world. I never had a problem understanding anyone from anywhere. My mother, on the other hand, could not understand anyone unless they had most American, Italian or Spanish accent. She had a lot of problem with British accents. 

My mother was born in America, but her parents were off-the-boat Italian and Italian was spoken at home. My grandfather left for political reasons and always hoped to go back with his family, so perfect, northern Italian was to be maintained. 

My mother and her siblings went to schools run by strict, mostly Irish, teachers. They had to be. They had students whose families were from all over Europe, all of them speaking their languages at home, at their churches and synagogues, but by golly, they were going to get those kids educated…and they succeeded. My mother and her sisters all became executive secretaries, all six of them, all right under the bosses, (one at an African nation’s embassy). Their full brother and two half-brothers all ran their own businesses. The youngest half-brother dropped his accent, but one kept his because, I believe, the ladies found it charming, but no one ever guessed that English was not my mother and those siblings’ first language. 

That is until someone heavily accented tried to talk with her. God forbid she try to watch a show with French people speaking; I would have to translate, no matter how clearly they spoke English. 

So, here I have been listening to audiobooks, podcasts, and vlogs from all over, though mostly from Scotland, England and some from Ireland, 

and I find myself speaking afterward with a mid-Irish lilt, a Yorkshire accent, different Scottish brogues, (or even going arownd talking like a Canadian). 

However, I have not found myself speaking with the clear, fine accents of some of the English, drat it.  

A few of the people speak softly, and some have heavy accents and for the first time, I absolutely have to use my earbuds to understand them, which I dare to guess does not help in fending off their ways of speech entering into my own. 

Do you get affected by accents, I mean, do you find yourself speaking like others? 


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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10 Responses to Ac’centuate the Positive

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    I don’t think I do this, but I know what you’re talking about.
    Often, when discussing some “regional” issue or situation or person, my wife will lapse into the corresponding manner of speech. This is most often evident when she lapses into the modified Cajun lingo of the greater New Orleans area… or the type “sounds” we hear around Pulaski County KY.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What has saved me here is that there are several ‘accents’ where I live so that I am constantly being exposed to several at once. In fact, I had sent they things said here amusingly to my mother. I wrote installments of a Kentucky Multi-dialect Dictionary. I hope that I can find my copies of the letters.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Like Jeff, I don’t think I do this, but I’ve seen it happen. One of my nieces married an Englishman and moved to Northamptonshire. Within a few years we noticed a change in her speech. But when the marriage ended and she and her son moved back to Michigan, the two of them were soon speaking like Midwesterners.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jessica says:

    I do this, and it’s embarrassing. My sister, who was visiting me in North Carolina a year or two after I had moved there, pointed it out to me when I answered the lady at the drive-thru in a Southern accent. She said, “Why are you talking like that? You sound like you’re making fun of her!” I didn’t even realize I was doing it at all. I was so embarrassed, and I have tried so hard since then to watch my speech and avoid mimicking Southern accents when I speak to people here, but it’s very hard! I hope no one has ever misconstrued my intentions. I have lived here for fourteen years now, so I actually do have a very slight Southern accent now that I’ve developed naturally, and I slip into local slang now and then. But I do think it becomes far more pronounced when I talk to Southerners. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and I would be a team! Mine was very pronounced when I spoke with a lady we knew from South Carolina when I was a kid. I used to wonder why my mother would send me out of the room!
      Oh, Jessica, I feel for you. Thanks for joining in with my post.I truly appreciate your commiserating with me.


  4. Miss Worm says:

    I’m English and I tend to pick up other English accents, rather than foreign ones. I only need to hear a few words of ‘Bristol’ and it slips into my speech for weeks. Just thinking about it is going to make me do it, I can tell!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can’t pick up yours! But there are a couple of content creators who I find myself speaking like, even doing impressions of them!


  6. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I think it would be fun to do this, but I can’t. I sound like upstate SC, and that isn’t the prettiest accent in the world. I have a hard time understanding British accents tool

    Liked by 1 person

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