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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Aww, Go On. Say It Again.


I am the proud owner of a Dyson vacuum cleaner. And while I can now tell you that it truly sucks – and in the way that a thing can suck and still have that be a good thing (and yes, you are free to run with that – I’m feeling generous today) – I must admit that the primary reason I bought the Dyson was because the man in the commercial had a British accent.

And in that way, I find that I am typically American.

What is it about the British accent? A person with a British accent could be claiming that three minus two is still two and I’d be inclined to nod, smile, and picture him talking dirty.

Oh, clearly, I need to get more sleep.

Americans have a fascination with accents, I think. A nation of immigrants, we are at once suspicious of those not “like” us and enamored of the construction of their sentences, the thought processes, the thought that perhaps they actually speak more than one language, the thought that they know something that we don’t.

Or is that just me?

What do you want?! We’re a fairly isolated country, bordered by Canadians (who speak either English or French) and Mexicans (who speak either English or a derivative of Spanish). If you were born in America, particularly as a third-generation participant and beyond, you speak English (and only English) and just enough French or Spanish to make it clear that yes, you’d like a beer and where is the bathroom?

Personally, I can also ask for the beach, a towel, and another beer.

OK. That’s a lie. I cannot remember the French word for “towel”.

Where was I going with all this?

Oh, yes.

Accent-related gullibility. As the LOLcats would say: I has it.

And now? I’m tired. Go ahead, accented peoples. Tell me something.

I’ll be over here, on the couch, possibly watching programming I won’t admit to later.

36 comments:

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

You DO realize that Amerians have accents don't you lol? I'm told Canadians do as well although I'm not totally convinced of that. A couple of days ago I had to call our water heater rental company and got a wee man with a delightful Scottish accent. I kept him talking for ages just to listen to him.

joeh said...

I've made a similar observation, (and it scares me a bit that I might have a similar brain cell as you somewhere) It seems that almost everything "Cleaning" related is sold with an English accent.

R. Jacob said...

oh, the same way with British and Australian women too. sigh...

vanilla said...

Fascination or not, Americans do notice accents, yet they are notoriously bad at placing them. For instance, everyone who has a bit of a drawl is identified as "Alabama." No. Never been there.

Birdie said...

I equate British accents with someone who is more intelligent than I am.

I think the French word for towel could be towelette but I never made it past 8th grade French class so it is highly likely I am incorrect.

TexWisGirl said...

accent marketing. i like it!

Joanne Noragon said...

I have a British sister in law. I just call her.

Lo said...

I am a pushover for British Accents.....they could sell me London Bridge.

Paula Wooters said...

I remember being in Wales and people commenting on my accent. What accent? I thought I had the perfect midwest non-accent. Come to find out, they think I sound just like a Muppet. Go figure!

Sweet Posy Dreams said...

I do love accents. My son says I think anyone with an accent is more amusing. (But not in a make fun of kind of way.) We did just buy our son a Dyson, but not because of the accent. In fact, I always found the Dyson guy annoying.

Eva Gallant said...

So glad your Dyson sucks!

Marti said...

Yep, y'all ain't jus' a woofin', ah love ever thin British. Ah'd love ta go there someday. Aren't cha glad we uns over here just tawk normal?

Geo. said...

Pearl, those accents are fake. You wake an Englishman up at 3 in the morning and he sounds just like an American.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
...are you sitting comfortably?

Towel dans la Francais est "serviette". Beach-t "serviette de plage". Bath-t "serviette de bain".

Just in case you plan to visit Quebec. Or Paris.

Personally I have trouble 'cos have lived in so many parts of the world and learned a variety of speakings so the ol' accent's a bit menolinguical. YAM! Kya? Chup!

I'll leave you with it...

Z said...

Hang on, I'm English and I don't have an accent. I speak RP (Received Pronunciation). Not like the Queen, she talks posh.

Juli said...

I have a Dyson as well, course it has to do more for my disdain of cat hair and all things boys than English accent.

Ooops...If you want, I can rewrite that in a Boston accent...

Leenie said...

I'm glad to hear good word of mouth on the Dyson. Because I'm suspicious of British accents. I get the feeling I'm being patronized and patted on the head and sent along. Of course we here in the Northwest have absolutely no accent. You gonna eat those Tots?

Sioux said...

Once in France, we went to a little grocery store after hiking around the base of the Pyrenees. I wanted to get a large bottle, so I could refill it on later trips. (Those pesky French don't believe in water fountains at every other corner. They believe in buying a drink at a cafe.) I picked up a bottle and my French friend said, "Don't get that water. It tastes like shit." I asked her how I would ask the cashier, "Does this water taste like shit?" and she told me, probably thinking I wouldn't say it, but I did. The cashier nodded sheepishly and said "Oui."

Yes, we love accents. At least most of 'em...

Perpetua said...

Gosh, do I have an accent that could sell a vacuum-cleaner?

Retires into a corner to contemplate that fact and think about the accents she enjoys..... :-)

Jenny Woolf said...

Whenever I am in the US people tell me I speak like the Queen. And T speaks like Prince Charles. I like to imagine us both, sitting here at home, at either end of a long polished mahogany table, say, 20 feet long, calling across to each other, "Pass the marmalade, your Royal Highness!"
"Certainly, your Majesty!"
Ah well, it is a boost to the ego, I suppose, even if it is all imaginary ...

Belle said...

Ever since I watched James Bond when I was 12, I have loved accents. I am Canadian and when I visit the States people always ask me where I come from. I do have a "cute little accent" as a salesgirl said. My sister says it sounds like the people in Fargo. Oh, and I'd love to own a Dyson.

Barbara Torris said...

Oh my gosh, am I the teacher you had to sit beside?
We have so much in common...a dyson vacuum, love for the accents and a commonly used phrase ""Where was I going with this." You made me laugh...Let's have mas cervezas por favor y serviette de bain! (I looked that one up...I hope I didn't swear in French!

b+

Jackie said...

I may be the only one, but I have wondered soooo many times what our English sounds like to someone who doesn't speak it.
Great blog...as always.
J.

River said...

To me all you Americans sound just like us, because I watch a lot of American TV, so it's a bit of a surprise when I watch an Australian or British show and hear the difference. Not so much the Australian, the main difference I can pick there is that we don't pronounce our "Rs" unless the word begins with the R.

NotesFromAbroad said...

I grew up in the South (US) and have lived all over the place since .. mostly NY and now Argentina.
Why is it every time I meet someone and they hear me speak, they ask where I am from, I sound Southern.
Suuuthern. That would be the way my brother ( the mush mouth) says it.
I do not sound like my brother.
How do they know ??
What do the Argies think of my Espanol con NY y North Carolina ??

HermanTurnip said...

I had a couple of friends in high school who were from South Africa. Whenever we hung out I purposely mimicked their accent. I thought I was so cool...

chlost said...

Whenever I read a blog or book or article that I know is written by someone British, I read it in a British accent. You can just tell it's written by a Brit, because they use the "king's English" not American. Just so.

jenny_o said...

Now I'm all tongue-tied, because everybody knows that Canadians have "flat" pronunciation, whatever the heck that is. And I so wanted to impress! (Actually we have a variety of accents. In my end of the country it's the Irish and Scottish lilts from our immigrant ancestors. And don't let anyone tell you we say oot and aboot because it's just not so!)

Rose L said...

Just about anything can sound romantic when spoken in French, Italian Spanish. Of course, the right kinda guy doing the speaking also makes a difference!!! wink wink

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The Savage said...

A'cents eh'? I fink it's pre''y noice tah be abull tah pull offf an a'cent. Bu' da one dat a'wayss ge's me is affectin; a lissssp and r-r-r-rollin' an "R" a dah same toime to soun' loike a gay Scot... It's not easy....

The Elephant's Child said...

We love our Dyson (it removes so much more cat fur) but I can't say I noticed the accent in the advertisement. I like an English or a Welsh accent myself. Quite a lot really.

Diane Tolley said...

While sitting in a restaurant somewhere in France, the waitress handed us a menu and asked us to read it. "Just read it out loud," she said. "Any of it. I just love to hear your cute Canadian accents!"
Cute Canadian accent?
Hmmm . . .
So what can I sell you?

Daisy said...

I can't resist accents either, but mostly I am so jealous of you owning a Dyson! :D

Linda O'Connell said...

When I am visitng my Boston friend, I take on her brogue, then when I get home my husband tells me to talk right.

Mitchell is Moving said...

I've wanted a Dyson ever since I saw his first commercial. I can't remember what he said exactly, but it ended with a very British "actually" (or at least I think it did)...

We go for breakfast every morning at an English place down the beach. I prefer speaking Spanish with them (given that we don't speak the same native language). When they ask if I want beans or "tinned to-MAH-toes," I'm tempted to say "beans" even though I hate them. My "to-MAY-toes" don't sound quite as posh.