So I was getting my hair cut in the ‘burbs on Saturday (it was a glorious 85’F – unheard of for October) – it was one of the genericy hair cuttery/supercuts things and full of the usual sort you see there – not that there’s anything wrong, but there’s a certain type of hairdresser you see; either they’re middle age mums or screaming queens.
This particular one was full of the former – I got the one who had a flipping bull ring through her nose and was covered in tattoos. The sort of get-up a 20 something would wear, but she wasn’t 20 something… anyway, i digress.
So anyway I am sat in the chair and she starts chatting – now at this point in time, 9 times out of 10 people will say “I love your accent” or “So where are you from?” and we go through the usual whys and wherefores about why I live in Chicago, etc. But not this time. “Phew! Saves time repeating all that crap” I thought… then had a pouty moment that no-one was commenting on my accent.
This got me thinking. Even if I spend 25 years living the US I will always be the outsider. The accent, the things I say (and the occasional use of the “c” word 🙂 ) will always be there and so there will always be someone asking about it (the accent). But is this a good thing? Would you want to have something that distinguishes you from the general population like an accent – and that your accent could be a positive or negative thing too.
When I worked for LloydsTSB we were told not to open accounts for Nigerians – so when someone with an African accent came in (which was invariably Nigerian) we were on guard – you were primed to watch out for the accent as a giveaway. Similarly when the troubles with the IRA were prevalent in the UK, having an Irish accent was seen as a negative (probably still is in some parts).
On the flip side, if you have an Brit accent in the US you are golden. Doors will open on many fronts and things are generally positive. I also see the occaisional negative reaction to accents here too – for instance it seems there’s not a great love for Indian and Mexican and Eastern European accents are certainly giving a cautious eye too.
Regardless, I’m still pouty about not being asked!