English

Being from the West Coast of Scotland, I have naturally picked up a Scottish accent. I don’t have a thick Glaswegian accent though, and never have, due to being brought up in a neighbourhood outside the city by parents who don’t speak like that and not going to a school where people speak like that. I can, however, affect that accent if the situation requires it – say, for example, during a conversation with a Ned, or a builder.

I've talked about it here before.

The BBC recently ran a story about how people in America struggle with certain types of British accents, saying that it will be the biggest barrier to Cheryl Cole being successful out there – this is on account of her thick Geordie accent that even I find difficult to understand. They compare it to the accent of Colin Firth who, during his speech at the Oscars, spoke with perfect English enunciation and pronunciation.

I have had a bit of trouble with my accent in the states, mostly because I am quite lazy with my speech in certain cases. When asked for a drink, for example, I might add the word “...eh” before the word “Coke” and end up with “diet Coke”. At lunch this week, I said “Thanks very much” to our server and she replied “What sir, what do you want?” not grasping what I had said. It happens a lot in restaurants and bars due to the noise levels I guess.

I struggle to understand what some people from Texas are saying due to their speed of talking which is much slowly in some cases to what I hear in the UK. There is a drawl and a accent there that genuinely I struggle with if I am not prepared for it.

But I don’t think it is a barrier to people living or working out here, as it takes a bit of work from both parties. I have changed the way that I speak out here to allow for less of these moments – I try to not mumble, which I do quite a bit, and also be a bit more definitive with what I am saying, and say it with a lot more conviction.

It is just a matter of knowing who your audience is, I guess, and also who you are going to be listening too... it appears that most Americans struggle with my accent when they don’t expect it to be different – for example, just blurting out “I want a coke” doesn’t work because they except at least an American-ish accent, not something stolen from the other side of the world, so introducing my self first and a little bit of banter helps them understand. I also have the problem, if you want to call it that, of having a Canadian girlfriend who will lull them into the thought that we with both have North American accents and then.... BOOM, I hit them with “Fit like” and they pass out from stress.