Them: Where are you from in Ireland? Me: Chicago.

So it’s cropped up a couple of times now.  No, more than a couple – it’s happened so many times that I’ve lost count.  I meet someone new and have the standard can-you-believe-this-weather-it’s-far-too-hot/cold/wet/dry chat.

Then there’s a brief pause… and they USED to say, ‘So where in the States are you from, then?’

Me: ‘Chicago’

Them: ‘Ahhh, the WINDY CITY!’ (always said with a certain aire of satisfied expertise, like Stephen Fry reading the correct answer on QI)

But the conversation trend has taken a worrying turn – people have started asking me if I’m Irish.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Irish people.  They are SO. Freaking. Nice.  And they love Americans, which helps :)  I’m just a little freaked out because I love my A-mur-cun twang and I’m determined to cling to it, white-knuckled, until my hard R’s and flat A’s relent and settle back into my head.

Does anyone else get this?  I’ve lived in the UK for eight years now, so it makes sense that my accent is fading from shiny-new-American to shabby-expat-mid-atlantic.

I still cringe sometimes when I hear the half-arsed Ameri-English-love-child accent that comes out of my mouth.  But, hey ho, you can’t win ‘em all!

Call Me Geordie, Maybe

(Watch on YouTube)

I couldn’t resist sharing this one.  The ever-catchy ‘Call Me Maybe’ has officially been translated into Geordie.

I can proudly say I didn’t even need subtitles to know what they were on about!  Another right of passage achieved…

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

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.

Americans like ‘dongle’ and ‘bung’

Conversation between me and Mr Nice Guy when we were in America:

Me: Hun, where’s the dongle? I wanna check our business banking.

*giggles heard from the next room*

Mr Nice Guy: I haven’t seen the dongle since we got here – did you check the suitcase?

*chortles waft from the next room*

Me: Found it!  It was in your jeans pocket in the suitcase – do you want it when I’m done?

Mr Nice Guy: Nah, just bung it back in the suitcase when you’re done

*guffaws and general merriment erupt from the next room*

Voice from the next room: WHAT THE HELL’S A DONGLE?!?  HAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  BUNG!?!  HAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!

yankeebean

yankeebean

When I think about it, bung and dongle are two hugely English-sounding words.  I can imagine them both wearing wellies to walk to the local pub… talking about Alistair Darling’s pre-budget report – or Gordon Ramsay’s plastic surgery (depending on their current place in the British class system).

These are hidden gems, a level (or two) below ‘bloody’, ‘bugger’ and ‘brilliant’ – the ol’ faithfuls that always get rolled out when a British characters appears in an American TV show.

So, Americans!  If you’d like to put your British-ness on display, liberally apply the words bung and dongle across your next conversation.  Let me know how it goes :)

Being an American in Britain makes you accidentally sexy

yankeebeanDon’t deny it – whatever you’re accent weakness is, you know it’s there (you minx, you)

For many many many (freakin’ MANY) Americans, their weakness is the English accent.  And rightly so, might I add – English people can say almost ANYTHING and it sounds good.  ‘Bastard’ and ‘asshole’ are prime examples (pardon my not-french).  Not the friendliest or most pleasant of words, but said in a posh English accent it’s instant class… ok, maybe not class – but you get what I mean…

Bizarrely, this attraction can be the same in reverse – I’ve met countless English people that seem to think the American accent is the equivalent of a chocolate covered strawberry.

Now I’m about as ‘taken’ as they come – I’m hitched to an awesome Brit who’s the best ever.  As  a result, I think I tend to radiate ‘unavailable’ like it’s stamped, glowing across my forehead.  Everyone that knows me knows that I’m uber-taken, and that I’m crazy about Mr. Nice Guy.  I wonder if that’s why people feel comfortable enough to tell me when they think my accent is cute… although I always feel weird when it happens.  (To be fair, I think everyone involved does – it usually temporarily kills the conversation and causes some shuffling)

Here’s a list of some of the words that have caused said-shuffling:

  • Capo (American = KAY-poh / English = CAH-poh)
  • Tofurkey
  • Compost (American = KAAHM-post / English = COHM-pohst)
  • Capillary (American = CAA-pill-air-ee / English = cuh-PILL-ery
  • Route (American = RAOWt / English = ROOt
  • Tune (American = TOOn / English = CHEWn
  • Semi (American = SEH-my / English = SEH-mee)
  • Strawberry (American = STRAHW-beh-ree / English = STROO-bree)

I’m always surprised when someone thinks the American accent is particularly attractive.  I don’ think it’s bad or anything – it just seems so ordinary to me (for obvious reasons).

So, if you’re American and you want to be sexier, try moving to England.  All you have to do is chat and your accent will take care of the rest :)

Moving back to America after living in England (a little advice)

yahooavatar15Tell our readers a little bit about yourself:

I think I’ll call myself BigApplePie :)

How long did you live in England and what brought you to the UK in the first place ?

I lived in North East England for approximately 4 and 1/2 years.  I moved for love and married a ‘Geordie’.  Unfortunately, our marriage did not work out and we were divorced 2 1/2 years after I had arrived in this strange country that I came to love.

What were the reasons you decided to move back to America?

This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made.  Being a musician, I worked very diligently to create a name and work for myself to support living on my own.  However, I was thousands of miles away from my own family and felt a little lonely.  In the Spring of 2008 I was offered a job that was located near where I grew up in America and I battled over making a decision to move or not.  On one hand I would be working in a similar field, but on the other hand it was back to working 5 days a week.  Saying ‘yes’ would meant that I was going to leave a career that I had built to return to my family and have a wonderful support system and spend holidays with them. Saying ‘no’ meant I would continue my career but would spend birthdays and special holidays away from my family.  Also, during my decision making time, an intruder broke into my cottage and I had to turn to local friends for help.  It made me a little scared to come home late at night when I was all alone.

I truly battled over this decision and with the economic downturn, I decided that if I ever wanted to try and move back to the states that this was the time to try.  Moving with a job, was a better segue than just moving blindly back without the promise of work.

So after 6 months, I said ‘yes’.

How long did the process take to move back ‘home’?

Moving back was very straight forward. I decided to move in August and by October I was living and working in the US.  My personal items arrived a bit later.  I used Pickfords, the most amazing moving company in the UK, their US equivalent is called Allied.  I arranged for sea freight and they packed up everything and started the move one month before I actually left the UK.  I also went through the paperwork of moving with my large breed dog.  This has been made very easy through a programme called PETS.  However, it requires rabies injections and clearances 6 months prior to moving, so be prepared.

Now that you have moved back what do you miss about the UK, if anything?

The grass is always greener.  I never thought that moving back to the USA would feel like moving to a new country, but I was learning things that I had forgotten and it wasn’t as easy as I thought.  I actually hadn’t lived in the US for over 5 years because of my transition. Very quickly after moving, I started regretting leaving the UK.  Even though my parents had been so helpful with arrangements, I just missed the independence I had created in the UK.  The move did end up costing a lot more than expected and with the economy down the tubes, the exchange rate was NO longer in my favour… bummer.

I love that the UK has such wonderful customs and traditions.  It always amazed me to arrive at a gig and find that I was performing in one of the oldest castles or an incredible stately home.  The society is very ‘real’ and this reality is very touching.  Meeting new people, whether rich or living on very little, there was an appreciation for life and music too which was a bonus.

Also, the UK’s national health system is amazing and SOOO easy.

What changes do you notice about yourself since you last lived in America?

I am a more polite driver and I am not as ‘fast-paced’ as other people my age.  I realized that I had forgotten a lot of Americanisms, because I had changed some of my words and speech to ‘fit in’ in England… now I was being criticized in America, so I am learning how to speak all over again.  No more boot of the car, right-hand drive cars (which I occasionally get in the car and sit there hoping that no one saw me get in on the wrong side!! LOL), pants/trousers, etc…

Anything you have noticed now that you didn’t notice before about America/Americans?

I see that the states is extremely competitive in work and life.  There are fewer holidays and people are very ‘work-driven’.  It is almost sad.  Also, there seems to be this horrible threat of being ‘sued’.  I don’t understand this at all.

The other thing is that I find Americans are very wasteful.  With the focus on becoming ‘green’ a few more Americans are starting to conserve but as a nation it is very disheartening to see the waste going on.

Any advice to other Americans in the UK that are thinking about moving back home?

Be sure of what you really want in tens years from now… make a choice based on your life, not your surroundings.  There are things that I miss about both sides of the pond and I am still unsure about my choice but everyone is different.  But make sure you visit ‘back home’ before you take the plunge… things might have changed and your views might have changed too.

Any chance you will return?

This is something I am still seriously considering.  Stay tuned…

What have you noticed about American men in comparison to the UK guys (I asked this because  we get asked that a lot)

I am probably the worst person to answer this… but generally there are good, respectful men and the opposite in both countries.  Always remember to look at their family values… how did they grow up and how do they treat their mothers!!

Thanks so much!

(Thinking of making the move back to America yourself? You might also like this post)

I’m an American, I live in Britain, and I have a weird accent…

yankeebeanI didn’t mean for the beginning of this post to sound like an AA meeting… but having said that, I DO have a confession to make.

I used to heavily judge people for ‘trying to sound English’. Now, I’m not talking your Dick Van Dyke’s or your Oliver Twist’s – nonono – I’m talking your Madonna’s.

(And now, me).

If someone moved to England and then started-up with the to-mah-to and the baaah-sil, I was instantly repelled.

Ridiculous! Insulting! Embarrassing! ‘Cringe-central… we have now reached cringe-central. Please take small children by the hand while disembarking…’

But OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHhhhhhhh, how the tables have turned! My eyes have been opened and all judgment reserved! I take it all back. And I apologise to Madonna, sorry Madge.

Four years in and my own weird accent has taken hold and is proving harder and harder to avoid. I don’t say weird as in ‘bad’ – I love weird things and embrace all things ‘dork’. But my weird anglo-ameri mutant twang is here to stay.

I made a little home-movie with my camera at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta this morning and when I listened back, there was mutant yankeebean chatting inside my camera; grabbing whatever vowel sound that took her fancy and any ol’ inflection that lit her fire.

Hi, my name is Yankeebean, I’m an American living in Britain, and I have a weird accent.

(Altogether now – “Hi, Yankeebean”)

————-

For Pacificbird’s views on  her ‘accent revelations’ click here

Pick a language to massacre…

yankeebeanI have a theory that Americans are more likely to massacre the French language and English peeps are more likely to massacre the Spanish language.

Have you ever heard the way some English people say ‘jalapeño’ or ‘torrilla’???  Ha-lah-PEN-yo becomes Dja-lah-PEE-noh and tor-TEE-yah become tor-TILL-ah.  It’s both fantastic and hilarious… and it’s one the many reasons I love watching English cooking shows.

But that’s almost the mirror image of how I massacre French.  I pronounce ‘croissant’ as cruh-saahnt instead of ‘quah-sohn’.  I still remember the first time I said it in front of Mr Nice Guy and he couldn’t believe it.  He thought I was joking… but, alas… non…

It makes sense, I guess – Spanish is crazy-common in the States where English people are going to be much more likely to need French.  But the polar opposite of heinous pronunciation is just too beautiful to not become a blog.

But my absolute favourite is when someone that’s fluent in multiple languages pronounces a single non-English word in an otherwise English sentence.  A close friend of mine is half-French and when she says a French word such as ‘croissant’ or a phrase like ‘cafe au lait’ she instantly becomes 100% French before transitioning just as quickly back to English for the rest of the sentence.  It always makes my head spin and it always makes me smile…

And jealous because I only speak a little Spanish :)

Charlie bit me…

yankeebean

yankeebean

In order to understand this post you have to watch this 56-second video:

Did you watch it?  Good… now I have a couple of questions:

How many times did you watch it?

Did you rewind it and watch it bunch of times?  Or Just once?  Do you want to watch it again right now instead of reading my (titillating!) blog-ness?  Go on, you’re only young once ;)

How hard did you laugh?

Chuckle?  Chortle?  Laugh?  Guffaw?  Rolling around on the floor?  Choked on your own saliva?  Sorry… I took that too far…

The reason I ask is that my brother first sent me this link (he lives State-side).  I watched it the first time and chuckled (especially at :23 and :38).  Then I watched about 5 more times and I was laughing out loud by the end.

Brother-o-mine asked what I thought we he called me yesterday.  I said ,”yeah, it was funny” in a chilled-out observational kind of way.

“What??”, he said…

He was STYMIED that I didn’t think it was the single funniest thing I’d ever seen.  He said that Mom and his fiance both almost died the first time they watched it – they were crying with laughter.

I do think it’s funny… really funny.  I’ve watched it a lot more and it gets better and better – but I think one of the things that makes the video really funny is that fact that the kids have English accents.  I realised when I was talking to Bro that I hardly hear the accent anymore, it’s just a regular thing.  I could see my two rambunctious nephews do something just like Charlie and Henry up there.  In fact, I probably have…

I told him that and he grinned down the phone, “I think it’s funny because it’s one of the funniest things I’ve EVER SEEN!”  Then he quoted (in an English accent) “That really hurt and it’s still… hurting”.

The penny dropped… I think it proved my point.

So I end this blog with a hypothesis:

Kids with accents are cute and funny

(but check out the remix – AWESOME!)

Rufus the Roofer – Divided by a common language

yankeebeanHere’s how the conversation went:

(Note: I was only half-listening because I was making lunch which involves constant rustling)

Mr NiceGuy:  I wonder how long Rufus will take…

Me: What?

Mr Nice Guy: I hope Rufus is getting on ok, I hope it doesn’t take too long…

(I stop rustling, wander out of the kitchen and look at him)

Me:  Have I ever met Rufus?

Mr NG:  What?

Me:  I don’t think I’ve ever met Rufus, I don’t know who you’re talking about…

Mr NG:  No, hahaha!  I’m talking about the roofers [this time he pronounced roooo-ferrrrs]

ha HAAAA!!!!  He was talking about the roofers on the roof (who were, at that precise moment, bashing around up there and fixing some leaks) – and I thought he was talking about someone named Rufus…

It’s not necessarily a hilarious story, but what I STILL find hilarious is that after 9 years with Mr NG I still don’t always understand his accent :)

It reminds me of the first time I said ‘weed-whacker’ in front of him and I thought I was going to have to give him CPR because he thought it was so hilarious.  I’ve gotta admit, I think ‘weed-whacker’ is gloriously descriptive compared to ‘strimmer’ – more violent, though, but I guess that figures…