Accents are Awesome
I love accents.
Part of this has to do with my inner word nerd – I love figuring out how certain vowels got shifted, or how different forms of a language diverged from each other. Things like Grimm’s Law and Verner’s Law fascinate me, explaining things like how the Latin piscis becomes fisc (Old English) and then fish, but pater developed into fader (Old English “father”) instead of faþer.
The other reason I love accents is much more pedestrian. Accents sound really cool. Funnily enough, I’m particularly enamoured of the Kiwi accent. New Zealand English has a beautiful sound to it. I’ll admit that I got really excited while watching the Air New Zealand flight attendants boarding in Vancouver, because it had fully hit me: I was going to a country where almost everyone speaks like this all the time.
Being an international student, I hear other accents, too. There’s a girl from Norway who has a very sweet one, and I’ve been hanging around a group of Americans. Interestingly, I’ve been hearing the American accent a lot more. Usually, it’s so close to the Canadian that I only notice it if they’re from the Deep South or the Bronx. It’s subtle, but I feel like their speech is more direct and forceful somehow, while I’m discovering that Canadian English almost has a slight lilt to it.
Of course, in this environment, I have an accent, too. One of my new American friends told me that he can hear my Canadian accent really strongly, though admittedly, I sometimes put on an exaggerated Bob-and-Doug-Mackenzie-backwoods-hoser accent while joking around with them. Still, I find that really interesting – I know that no one really hears their own accent, so I’m intrigued by the notion of what other people hear when I speak.
I wish I could do more accents, but honestly, I’m not that good. I used to be able to pull off a passable British one, and I learned a Texan accent for a play, but both seem to have been subsumed by my attempts at learning the New Zealand. I have so much respect and admiration for people who can do convincing (and multiple) accents – besides the New Zealand one (which I’ve been told sounds more Australian, anyway, despite my efforts), all I’ve got left is a 1940s Movie Accent (according to my roommates).
I wonder if I’ll return with a touch of New Zealand in my voice. Though it may be problematic for podcasting purposes to have some stray Kiwi shining through every so often, I hope I do… though I’m sure my lifelong Canadian-ness will prove pretty durable, eh?