Author Topic: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"  (Read 41562 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

whiterose

  • From the good old US of A!
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4450
My friend and I were at a restaurant (I think her boyfriend was there as well). We had known each other for almost 4 years, and I had been living in FL/the continental States for 4 yeras as well. For some reason it came up in conversation that I wanted to have an American lifestyle.

And then she said, "if you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?". Keep in mind I do have an accent- and although I am very rarely ever misunderstood, people do ask all the time where I am from.

Why would she say something like this? Was it the alcohol talking that brought it out? Was she tired of my wanting an American boyfriend yet having had bad luck? Was she tired of my being single while she had boyfriend after boyfriend and was implying that if I wanted an American guy, I better get rid of my Purple accent and anything Purple- or else I better stick to Purples? That with my Purple accent, nothing else can be seen about me (talents, quirks, good moral values, etc.) other than my lavenderly lavenderness (or at least purply purpleness in general)?

To add insult to injury, the "cultural expectations" incident happened later that week- and yes, the lab manager, who was from USA's mother country DID suggest as well that getting rid of my accent would be a good idea  :'(

What circumstances merit changing a person's accent? Was what she said offensive (and possibly prejudiced), or should she be given a pass?
« Last Edit: September 29, 2009, 01:28:11 PM by whiterose »
I have pet mice!

Elfqueen13

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4203
    • Adventures in House Hunting!
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2009, 01:31:21 PM »
It is an unfortunate fact that people sometimes associate having an accent with a lack of intelligence.  The exception does seem to be British accents, which might explain your boss.
Follow along on my house hunt!  http://ulfrslady.livejournal.com/

drebay

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3788
  • drebay does not stand for Dr Ebay!
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2009, 01:32:21 PM »
Accents most times takes eons to lessen.  I would not give her a pass.  Has this person said anything like this before? What is an American accent anyway?  We have so many.

sisbam

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3205
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2009, 01:35:18 PM »
You should change your accent if your occupation merits it (e.g., broadcast journalism, acting, recording automated phone messages). Otherwise, your friend was out of line. If you're interested you can ask her what she meant by her statement at a calm time not involving alcohol; otherwise, take it with a grain of salt.

FWIW, I think Purmerican accents are nice.

wheeitsme

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3995
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2009, 01:36:11 PM »
Ummmm...What's an "American accent"?  There are at least 12 different "southern" accents.  At least 15 different "northern" accents, (yes, I'm making up numbers, but trust me, the statements are true) and 37 other kinds of accents.

Do they want you to sound like you're from Georgia or Virginia?  New Jersey or North Dakota?  San Fernando, California or Brooklyn, New York?

I learned to talk in Texas, France, and England, and I've had folks asking if I was from Chicago.

Nope, grew up most of my life in the San Joaquin valley of California.

...just shake your head and walk away  ;)

hobish

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 18186
  • Release the gelfling!
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2009, 01:42:37 PM »

For that matter, what is an American lifestyle? I can guarantee you that my lifestyle is nowhere near that of my three cousins' out in Minnesota, which is nothing like our cousin's in Arkansas, which is nothing like the cousin's in Southern California. I don't know what Purple is, but is it so far removed that the US is one big conglomerated lifestyle? I am confused ... and i think you may be, as well.

It's alright, man. I'm only bleeding, man. Stay hungry, stay free, and do the best you can.
~Gaslight Anthem

whiterose

  • From the good old US of A!
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4450
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2009, 01:43:28 PM »
We lived in northern Florida, where the accent is probably closest to a generic Southern accent. She was from the touristy part of the state.

While the generic American accent they use in broadcasting and acting is the Midwestern one, it MAY be an interesting assumption to assume that is what she meant specifically. Maybe she just meant one that made it sound that English was my first language and that I came from somewhere in the USA, regardless of where, as compared to a foreign accent. I am assuming foreign in general rather than Purple, since only about 60-70% of people can tell my accent is Purple, so I cannot assume Purple specifically. She did say once that I spoke French well, but with a Purple accent.

I can sound like a Valley Girl if I wanted to. Apparently the Southern accent has blended with the Purple one, so many people assume nowadays that I am from Scotland or Ireland since I roll my R's.

Still hurts, though. I do not think my accent is ugly- on the contrary, I have been told it is very melodious. People have stated that I pronounce every letter of every syllable in every word. And others notice that I always use proper English and have a very high language level. So why is this one quirk standing out like a sore thumb to some people so much?
I have pet mice!

audrey1962

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4322
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2009, 01:43:34 PM »
As an American I have no idea what she is talking about.

I do not believe speaking with the same accent as the news anchors on CNN is necessary to "live an American lifestyle" (whatever that means!).

whiterose

  • From the good old US of A!
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4450
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2009, 01:45:04 PM »

For that matter, what is an American lifestyle? I can guarantee you that my lifestyle is nowhere near that of my three cousins' out in Minnesota, which is nothing like our cousin's in Arkansas, which is nothing like the cousin's in Southern California. I don't know what Purple is, but is it so far removed that the US is one big conglomerated lifestyle? I am confused ... and i think you may be, as well.



Keep in mind I was only 21, but I meant wanting to live the middle class North American suburban lifestyle and have a career that I enjoyed and the sort. I do not know if this is offensive.
I have pet mice!

Elfqueen13

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4203
    • Adventures in House Hunting!
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2009, 01:48:41 PM »

For that matter, what is an American lifestyle? I can guarantee you that my lifestyle is nowhere near that of my three cousins' out in Minnesota, which is nothing like our cousin's in Arkansas, which is nothing like the cousin's in Southern California. I don't know what Purple is, but is it so far removed that the US is one big conglomerated lifestyle? I am confused ... and i think you may be, as well.



Keep in mind I was only 21, but I meant wanting to live the middle class North American suburban lifestyle and have a career that I enjoyed and the sort. I do not know if this is offensive.

It's not offensive, just inaccurate.  The majority of 21-year-old American's don't live like that unless they are still living with their parents.  I blame TV.  :D
Follow along on my house hunt!  http://ulfrslady.livejournal.com/

whiterose

  • From the good old US of A!
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4450
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2009, 01:53:24 PM »
Well, I wanted it like that in the future. Like when I got to my current age (I'll be 32 this Friday).

And no, my accent has not gotten in the way of it. In fact, in my current job/career/field, it is an ASSET, since there are so many Purple speakers around here, so my knowing the language has been beneficial.

Has not been at every job- the lab, working as a teacher in a district with hardly any Purples- but at my current one it is something that aids me every single day.
I have pet mice!

Shores

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7668
  • F.O.E.
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2009, 01:54:50 PM »
I have to say, that at first reading, I didn't understand the problem. I thought she was making an ironic point that it can be difficult for an immigrant to truly achieve the "American lifestyle" in the yes of society. A sad reflection on the state of the world, but still a truth. I am an immigrant in a country where my American accent makes me stick out. It doesn't matter how well I speak the language, my accent remains and the minute some people (and this is SOME people. Some are just lovely) realize I'm not "REAL Dutch", their opinion of me drops and so does their willingness to help. I've had people tell me (and not in to be mean, just to truthful) that I will always be a bit of an outside to Dutch society and I think that that is true in America too. Someone with an accent will never be considered TRULY American. Of course this is wrong and exactly the attitude we want to change, but I think the perception remains alive in many MANY people's minds.

I could be completely off-base and she may just be a twit. But when I read it, I just though she was giving commentary on people's perceptions: that if you want the "American lifestyle", you have to make people forget you're an immigrant.
Wherever you go.... there you are.

Sabbyfrog2

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6754
  • I'm a Super Hero! Now where's my cape?
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2009, 02:15:45 PM »
I have to say, that at first reading, I didn't understand the problem. I thought she was making an ironic point that it can be difficult for an immigrant to truly achieve the "American lifestyle" in the yes of society. A sad reflection on the state of the world, but still a truth. I am an immigrant in a country where my American accent makes me stick out. It doesn't matter how well I speak the language, my accent remains and the minute some people (and this is SOME people. Some are just lovely) realize I'm not "REAL Dutch", their opinion of me drops and so does their willingness to help. I've had people tell me (and not in to be mean, just to truthful) that I will always be a bit of an outside to Dutch society and I think that that is true in America too. Someone with an accent will never be considered TRULY American. Of course this is wrong and exactly the attitude we want to change, but I think the perception remains alive in many MANY people's minds.

I could be completely off-base and she may just be a twit. But when I read it, I just though she was giving commentary on people's perceptions: that if you want the "American lifestyle", you have to make people forget you're an immigrant.

Very well said and I agree. Especially the twit part.

hobish

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 18186
  • Release the gelfling!
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2009, 02:20:54 PM »

For that matter, what is an American lifestyle? I can guarantee you that my lifestyle is nowhere near that of my three cousins' out in Minnesota, which is nothing like our cousin's in Arkansas, which is nothing like the cousin's in Southern California. I don't know what Purple is, but is it so far removed that the US is one big conglomerated lifestyle? I am confused ... and i think you may be, as well.



Keep in mind I was only 21, but I meant wanting to live the middle class North American suburban lifestyle and have a career that I enjoyed and the sort. I do not know if this is offensive.

No no no! Not offensive! I hope i didn't sound like it is ... there just isn't really one "American lifestyle" that applies accross the board.

Unfortunately, what Shores said is true. There are people - not all, but some - who will make snap judgements based on an accent and some accents will get you better treatment than others. It isn't right, but it is a fact. I still think your friend was being a little silly. 
It's alright, man. I'm only bleeding, man. Stay hungry, stay free, and do the best you can.
~Gaslight Anthem

wheeitsme

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3995
Re: "If you want an American lifestyle, how about getting an American accent?"
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2009, 03:06:31 PM »
Now my problem is that since I learned to speak in such radically different places*, I pick up the accent of where ever I am.  I can't help it.  I have to really think about it to make it not happen. 

I'm always worried that in the transition, or after, when people find out that I'm not from "there", they'll be offended...




(Like I mentioned before...between ages 1 and 3, when I was learning to talk, I lived in Texas, France, and England - Why yes, I did have to go to a speech therapist as a child  ;) )