Sunday, June 26, 2011

English is not English


Ok, I know, I know, some of you are thinking...but she was BORN American, she knows American English!

I was, and I admit, I spoke like an American before...but after living in SA for 13 years and dealing with the public in the job that I did, I had to train myself to speak like a South African so that I could be understood especially on the phone.  I couldn't go into a restaurant and ask for 'wadder' because I would get 'eish, hey?'  So I taught myself to say 'wahTer'.  Also admittedly since being back my American accent has come back with a vengeance but  I do still say 'half past 5' not '5 thrity' and I end a question with 'hey?'

A small aside:  Now the entire time I lived in SA I was 'the American girl' and everyone always commented on my accent.  When I spoke to anyone in the US they always commented that I had an which is it?  I either have an American accent or South African accent...hmm.  I was told once that I was Northern Irish by a woman that was Northern Irish - she insisted that I had lived down the road from here there years before and that I didn't need to either American+South African = Northern Irish or she was a bit touched.

Moving on

So now that we are here and I catch myself asking for 'wadder' in order to get exactly that...water...I do find it interesting and slightly annoying that Americans as a whole do not speak English.  No seriously, you don't!
There is so much slang here that it has become accepted as normal conversational English, but to someone that has had proper English spoken around them for quite sometime, it is a bit hard on the ears.  And it seems to me that people tend to resist understanding something put in a different way.

For example, I was making an appointment and I said 'half past five' the person on the other end said 'five?'  I said no 'half past five'.  'ok' they said 'five o'clock it is'.  Now really, you can't tell me that even though Americans do not use this terminology you can't figure out that half an hour after an hour is half past?  Or is it a bit of a stubbornness to make the rest of the world succumb to American English?

T's have become D's...spadder, badder, boddle, wader, madder, etc..
Vowels have been made longer...sahrry, cahr, dawg, dooer,
Seperate words have been merged...oerdare (over there), waddchasey (what did you say), gimmedat (give me that)
And if all of those are not hard enough when they all get combined into one statement.....waddchaseyyernahmewahs (what did you say your name was) it is a wonder that I look at my husband and say 'What did they just say?'.

And THAT is something that is odd.  How is it that my Afrikaans husband can understand the American speak better than I can?  I mean really?  I should be the one 'translating' instead I often stand in stunned silence while he whispers in my ear the English translation.

It takes me back to my first few years in SA, I would stand in stunned silence while trying to figure out 'eish mama, eh, in tehrms of dha soogar, we ahre ouut.'  I finally got that down.

So here I sit, trying to learn English AGAIN! 
Hearing 'High yawn done. Two spray?' instead of 'Howya'lldoin'taday?'

No comments:

Post a Comment