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You've got know to understand

A note on accents. Specifically our accent. Many of you have heard this tale, but I will lay it down nonetheless. On my first trip abroad I was awaiting my flight back to Melbourne from Beijing, and sat back to watch as when the gates open most people rush to be at the front, as though the concept of allocated seating doesn't apply, or that they can somehow leave earlier. When the queue started to move with some alacrity I, with the rest of those who knew that it's more comfortable to sit down for the extra minutes, wandered over and jointed the end. There was a Chinese couple, book ended by myself, towering over at the back, and another Australian gent in front who towered over me. He had his bright red HSV racing team jacket on, his hair was spiked up and peroxided short-back-and-sides, and the shock-white of the hair and the bright silver earing clashed violently with the severely over-tanned scrotum-consistency of the wrinkled face. I took all this in as he turned around and drawled out in the most nasal Queensland accent imaginable "Daaahnt ya hate long flaawts?". "Ah!" I thought, "Like nails down a chalk board!" The lady whom he addressed stammered back "Ow... don't speak Engrish" (hey, if I phoneticise one accent, I can do the other). The banana bender makes a grandiose gesture of dismissal, doing the clicking thing with his tongue on the roof of his mouth, and says "Ya knaa whad I meeeeeeen." "Ah!" I again mentally yelped, "I don't want to go back to a country of 26 million of them!"

And so it is. Sometimes. When Naomi is here in Mexico, people marvel that we grew up within twenty minutes drive from each other and yet, while both clearly intelligible, our accents are so distinct. There are, I think, two reasons: firstly, I suspect some small measure is owed to a decade at a fancy-pants university; very few of my contemporaries speak in what could be called a drawl. Secondly, Having lived overseas for some time, I early on got jack of not being understood and made a vaguely conscious effort to annunciate more carefully than two Australians would with each other. All tees stay as tees, not dees, and all sentences contain discrete words, instead of one long German-style uberword. This of course drops away with people who speak Australian, British or New Zealand English. Important for use with the yanks, though.

So today, my new Uzbek colleague came to me asking why he can understand me, but not his Australian housemate, also hailing from Melbourne. I laid out my above two reasons and he said no, he doesn't think that accounts for all of it. He said:

"Say the word 'later'".

And I said

"Later, but normally it might be 'lada'".

He said

"No, he says something more like 'law-da'".

I laughed.

"You, my friend, live with a football bogan".

"Ah yes," said he, "he is always on the phone talking about football."

"And he also doesn't say 'night', no, he says 'nauwt'? Not 'time' but 'tauwm'? And not 'goal', but 'gaw'? Speaks generally quite slowly? Every sentence goes up and the end like a question? And there's lots of 'yeah... naah'?"

"Yes! And theres lots of 'ahhhh... ummm...'".

So we sat down to watch video clips of footballers not talking well. However, I can't find a perfect example. Fevola, while not articulate, does not have that certain accent outlined above. Judd does the uberword sentence with the ahs and umms, but not the full accent, or zombified lack of sentience. Cousins is always too busy affecting remorse to do the full bluster associated. Crawford doesn't have the full deep register. Carey is pretty close, but, friends, tell me: whom does that full pre-game "Yeeeeeea, sa big nauwt fer us. Gaana givut ahunredanten percent... S good fah th club, th seige mentality... yeeee. Law-da wol get out, yano, jus may tha baws."? Who is the biggest user of this accent (asides from a Kenworth employee I went to school with)?

Anyway, I'll leave you with this.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jul. 5th, 2011 07:09 am (UTC)
Just like you, I can never think of the perfect example. I can think of one mate who has quite the strong accent, but as far as footballers go, I never pay them any attention when they're not actually playing the game. Hmmm ... surely there're some youtube clips of those sterling boys at the Cronulla riots?

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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