Reverse Pronunciation Problems?

Posted on November 6, 2008 by pacificyorkshirebird

pacific birdI want to expand on the baah-sil issue that Yankeebean started.  Sometimes in my outreach work I conduct some healthy eating demos.  So I spend quite a bit of time talking about food.  I learned very quickly that in order not to repeat myself or constantly answer questions about home (which does sometimes make me homesick) it is easier to use British pronunciation.  So I do say “baah-sil” and I say “tomahtoes”.  I even pronounce my name differently because people don’t fully hear it unless I emphasise a certain part of it.

But what happens when I spend time back home?  My American friends and family make fun of me for my “British accent”.  I promise I’m not trying to be British, or cool, or bring attention to the fact that I live somewhere else.  I just forget to translate my words into American English.  Even on this blog I struggle deciding whether to spell in English or American.

Does anyone else experience this?

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Sarah August 24, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    This is so familiar! I have the hardest time with Erin/Aaron. For the life of me I just can’t hear the difference in pronounciation.

  2. Alex June 9, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Came here ’cause my girlfriend is an American living here – I dragged her back from Seattle!

    I had the same thing happen to me when I was living in America with my accent. Similar to pacificyorkshirebird, my work had me interacting a lot with locals — I got sick of ‘huh?’, ‘what?’ and constantly repeating myself so, I guess unconsciously, I started sayingthings “rowt” instead of “root” for “route” and “router”… mind you I was there 2 years before i could bring myself to say “bathroom” or “restroom” instead of toilet or loo – it felt silly and affected like I was pretending to be American.

    Now I am completely confused – grew up in Ireland – 8-9 years in the UK (N & S) – 11 years in America. My accent is messed up… I’m a foregner everywhere.

  3. ambeline March 16, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    I just stumbled onto this blog and am happily reliving my days in the UK.

    While I was “studying,” I got a job at Costa Coffe, which forced me to start saying things like “banaaahhhna” and “serviettes” (no one wants a napkin on their plate.)

    I had to learn to say “trousers”quickly, instead of “pants,” because the children in the house would giggle at me every time. Since I forced myself so hard to say “trousers,” it stuck for a long time when I came home. I think my family and friends thought I was just really confused. I felt dumb always going to the wrong side of the car…

    I’ve been in the states for 8 years now and I’m pining for good old Tescos, Pub chips, pints, and watching football with my old friends.

    Thanks for your blog. I love it.

  4. Yorkshire Yank January 25, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    The New York accent is closer to an English accent than standard midwestern broadcaster American English.

    For example, the New York pronunciation of “forest” and “orange” as mentioned above is the same as the English pronunciation.

    Both English accents and New York accents avoid hard r’s.

    Since I’ve moved to the UK, my New York accent has gotten stronger (although it’s still not an extreme, stereotypical Noo Yawka accent) in comparison to my standard American accent because it’s closer to an English accent.

  5. Mike Doyle January 25, 2010 at 12:20 am

    This happens back in the States, too. I’m a New Yorker who’s lived (very happily) in Chicago for the past seven years. I’ve naturally adopted many Midwestern and Chicagoan pronunciations (clipped vowels before an R–pronouncing my American R’s at all, for that matter!) But there remain several words that make people chuckle every time they come out of my mouth. Here in Chicago (and in most of America), the beginning of words like Florida, orange, horrible, and forehead rhymes with the word “oar”.

    Back in New York–and still in my head–they rhyme with the word “are.” As in “Flahrida,” “ahrange,” “harrible,” and “farhead.” The one my Chicago friends find most amusing, though, is the word forest. As you can imagine from the above, I could say “far, farther, forest” and it would all rhyme. Meanwhile, New Yorkers just stare and shake their heads when I ask them for a “couple, two, three” of anything, or whether they “wanna come with.” So it cuts both ways :-)

  6. Meagan Lopez August 22, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    I’ve only been here eight months, but I feel like I am becoming more and more stubborn about keeping my accent. It’s not intentional, but people have commented that they actually think I sound MORE american than when I first came over.
    Give me another six months, and I’m sure I will start to sound “Madonna-esque.”
    I have noticed I’m saying boot and fringe without hesitations more and more commonly.

  7. Steve Shawcross August 12, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Half American and half British accent… isn’t that Canadian ;)

    • yankeebean August 14, 2009 at 9:46 am

      “Half American and half British accent… isn’t that Canadian?”

      Oooooooooo…. I think you’d have to ask a Canadian, and I think that Canadian would be annoyed :)

  8. Pingback: I’m an American, I live in Britain, and I have a weird accent… | She's Not From Yorkshire

  9. pacificyorkshirebird July 28, 2009 at 6:41 am

    It is so nice to know that people relate to this. Just like Redilocks, I felt like I couldn’t win either way.

    I’ve been home about 2 months now and after about 2 weeks strangers stopped commenting that I sounded like I had a British accent. Now, just the odd person will say it if they find out that I’ve recently returned.

    Secretly, the American accent sounds a little funny to me sometimes. Especially radio presenters. :)

  10. Redlilocks July 27, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Oh I so totally relate to this! I do say ‘bahhsil’ now and find myself saying ‘tamahto’ on ocassion although it feels somehow WRONG coming out of my mouth. But then so does saying, ‘tomayto’ because no one else says it like that… so I can’t really win. For the purposes of being understood/not raising questions I do often use British pronounciation (sah-lon, garidge, yuhgurt) but I have never intentionally changed my accent. Just hard to not pick it up a bit when you have lived around it 24/7 for years! And yes, my family often tease me for sounding ‘British’ even though I argue there is a whole country of people here that would disagree! lol

  11. J January 8, 2009 at 3:22 am

    I spell things like colour and favourite all the time but I don’t speak in an English accent, however I do say things differently when speaking to my boyfriend. Like for example, the other day I went to get new tyres put on my car and of course in the US, we pronounce ‘garage’ like ‘gahraj’. Well my boyfriend of course pronounces it like ‘gairidge’. So now I say it like that, but only when speaking to him.

    So yeah, I can relate to you lol

  12. Melissa November 7, 2008 at 9:51 am

    hehe I have the same problem- I have started using the British word for things, or just pronounced words differently, in order to avoid being made fun of here (or to be more easily understood)…

    and as a result, when I phone home, my family tease me for having “Madonna syndrome”… and at times I have even found myself forgetting which pronunciation of a word is the Amerian one (Home Dee-poh or Home Deh-poh? I’ve been here too long) :o p

  13. yankeebean November 7, 2008 at 9:32 am

    You know what an American actually said to me once? They said,

    ‘You sound like you’re trying to be like Madonna… like you’re trying to be English’

    I was so mad!!! A) because Madonna’s half-and-half accent really annoys me. and B) because they actually thought I was doing it on purpose. AAARRGGGHHHH!!!!

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