When British people try to imitate your accent ( Do I sound like that? SERIOUSLY!?)

Posted on May 20, 2010 by peacefulyorkshire

forensic spiceHanging out with the English is so much fun, yet there almost indefinitely comes a time during a night out where your American accent is attempted by a Brit. Suddenly, as you are telling a story, you get your American accent parroted back to you by your UK friend(s):

Them: “Hee-low, Iyme Amereycan, aynd Iye lyke yew!” (in the most nasal voice EVER)

You: “Yeah, thanks a lot.”

Them: No hard feelings, just “taking the piss” mate!

Whether you are an American in Yorkshire, London, or Wales, you’ll know what I’m describing. What do you do in these situations? The first option is to get annoyed and/or embarrassed. The second option is to laugh.

Have you ever tried the British accent in a UK group? You’ll likely get laughed at. If they get to do it, well then, so do we!

This phenomenon is only indicative of the American-UK relationship. Can you imagine your Nigerian or Swedish friends doing this? Or you doing it back? Probably not. So join in the fun on something that makes your UK experience differentiated from any other country.

Roll down a fake car window and parrot back in your best Yorkshire accent! Excuse me Sir, but do you have any Grey Poupon?”

Forensic Spice is one of our newsest guest bloggers and is a Californian now living in Yorkshire.

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Amy Foster November 1, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I love this blog!! It’s funny because I’m American and when my British husband makes fun of my accent I think it’s hilarious, but if anyone does it to him I can see him start to boil…with a smile on his face of course :)

  2. Michelle June 22, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Good lord ladies, HOW exactly do so many of you have British fiances and husbands?

    I lived there for over a decade and it was hard enough to meet a single British guy once every couple of years who wanted to take me on a first date (or get drunk when out innocently with a group of friends and afterwards awkwardly lunge at me for a kiss, which for all intents and purposes is considered a “first date” there).

    The UK marriage rate is the lowest it’s ever been since they started keeping records of it (in 1870, I think). Last year only 300,000 people in the UK got married, or something like that, in a country of 65 million people.

    I saw this with my own eyes –hardly ANYone was getting married, and the ones who did get married were the ones who started living with their partners at the age of 24 and it was now 10 years later and they already had a kid sometimes and they got married finally just to have something different to do on a Saturday.

    Maybe there was something going on behind the scenes though – all these American temptresses were moving to the north (York and such-like) and grabbing the FEW single British guys behind everyone’s back — is THAT it? ;-)

    Or do you think that guys outside of London are more likely to get married in their 20s and 30s, and to women they haven’t known since high school? I was obviously in the wrong place at the wrong time, for 11 years….

  3. sunflowery May 30, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    I am from midwest USA and while my own American ‘accent’ is more neutral or ‘news-reader’-ish, my British fiancee loves to call me up at work and leave prank voice mail messages pretending to be a client with a Texas drawl! He thinks we all sound like this apparently, or perhaps it’s just the only accent he can delude himself into thinking he can d0. I love it, as he never can quite pull it off…

  4. ultrasound technician May 27, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

  5. dyana May 24, 2010 at 7:28 am

    i’ d have to say the same as above. you know pretty quickly if someone is trying to be mean or not, vs trying to have a bit of fun. i work with guys from sunderland and liverpool. they are always taking the piss out of each other, i just sometimes get added in for the ride. it’s all co-worker bonding. my response however is to take it all fake seriously and to start correcting their pronunciation. gets a laugh usually :)

    • yankeebean May 24, 2010 at 10:48 pm

      Yeah, I’ve never gotten a mean vibe from someone’s lovely imitation ;)

      I don’t mind it, actually… But I do find myself hyper sensitive about people doing it to my guy in the States.

      I can tell it annoys him, even though he’s the master of discretion – like a true Englishman :D

  6. Brit Abroad in USA (Danielle) May 23, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    As Steve says, Brits do it to each other all the time. Take it as they see you as one of the family now, instead of as an insult.

    And I get Americans copying my English accent frequently. *shrug*

  7. Steve Shawcross May 22, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    I think it was Steve Coogan that once said: “If you take the piss out of somebody in Britain, it’s a term of affection. Do the same in the USA, and it’s seen as an insult”.

    British people mock others Brits’ accents too… Brummy is a particularly notorious target– as is a strong Yorkshire or London one. I’d say it’s usually done out of affection, nothing to get offended by (although context is everything). Rather in the same way being called a “Yank” is either affectionate or derogatory, depending on the context.

    It’s interesting to note how some people lose their accents when they move to another Anglophone country, and others don’t! There are certainly plenty of ex-pat Americans who’ve have (half-)lost their accents, Bill Bryson is possible an example of somebody who is ‘half-half’. Or going the other way, Jackie Collins.

  8. katieseattle May 22, 2010 at 6:29 am

    @ Teri, I TOTALLY know what you mean. And I also hear a lot of AWWWWWWW-SOME in a really over-excited nasal valley girl-esque accent.
    @ Kim, for me it’s either the valley girl accent, or the southern drawl one. I am from Seattle, I do not sound like either of those.

  9. Moe May 21, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    I’m an American from the Midwest, my husband is British. I admit that some of the words I say tend to come out “Fargo”-ish – though certainly not to that extreme.

    When my husband attempts to copy my accent he sounds like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. “Dooooncha knoooooow der.” It makes my ears bleed so I immediately combat it with my horrible Queen’s English accent. He shuts up pretty quick.

  10. Tilly Bud May 21, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I am a Brit who lived in South Africa for fourteen years and I experienced the same thing. I don’t believe it’s rudeness, but the effect of novelty. When real, live Americans speak they don’t sound like they do on the telly; in fact, they often sound to us like they’re putting on a fake accent. In the same way, South Africans were astonished that I didn’t sound like the Queen.

    And it’s often a compliment: I love a southern drawl – I could listen to The West Wing’s Emily Proctor all day long – and have found myself repeating phrases I’ve heard because it sounds so wonderful. Though not to someone’s face, I have to admit. But would you rather I said it behind your back? Would you not think I was mocking you?

    I can understand why someone might find having their accent copied annoying, but I have to say I never did.

  11. Christiana (us meets uk) May 20, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    haah, I swear my husband’s fake american accent sounds like steve urkel – i think i stopped talking for a week the first time he did it. Also, I love that the only british accent I ever hear americans do is a posh southern one! Admittedly it’s also the only one I can do that sounds semi decent. lancashire = FAIL, yorkhire = FAIL, brummy = total FAIL… the list goes on. The fake britsh accent that American actresses do is pretty much my “range” ;)

  12. Yorkshire Yank May 20, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Whenever someone I know who is British repeats what an American said on TV, they have to say it in the American accent. They can’t just repeat the words that the American said. They have to do the accent.

    If I repeat something that Stephen Fry said, I don’t do it in Stephen Fry’s accent.

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  14. Kat May 20, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I was trying to help an English friend of mine who was portraying an American in a play and I almost wanted to die from the sheer horridness of the put on accent. By the same token, Americans trying to do a “British” accent are just as bad.

  15. Teri May 20, 2010 at 10:38 am

    the WORST is that every time they do it, they just have to start with “OH MY GAWWWWD”

  16. Kim May 20, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Down here in London when they “do my accent” it always seems to be in some mutant form of a southern drawl. I am from Chicago-land, so needless to say they don’t quite get it right. I don’t bother with imitating the accent but respond with making fun of certain words and telling them they are attempting to sound “posh” when they use them. I find this cuts the “doing my accent” by quite a bit.

    Also, does anyone else get (usually from random strangers) “Oh, you’re American! You haven’t lost your accent yet!”… And do you also think well, um, yes, I AM American. And no, am I supposed to? And if I did, wouldn’t you just make even more fun of me for attempting to sound English than I already get for the American accent?!

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