Posts Tagged ‘English’

What You Sayin’?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

The other day while bobbing around in the Indian Ocean, one of my fellow morning beach regulars said that I had gained a bit of a British accent. My “Gosh, do you really think so?” response probably didn’t help the situation. I have become very aware of how I speak, particularly my intonation and how I ask questions. A year ago, when I was in Croatia with my best friend for my birthday, I realised that I was saying, “Do you want some WARter?” (downward inflection) instead of the usual Aussie, “Do you want some warDA?” (through the nose and ending on an upward note.)

North cottesloe beach

The scene of the “You sound like a POM” crime.

I seem to be doing this a lot and while I have never had a strong Aussie twang, I don’t seem to end every sentence as a question anymore. The pattern and rhythm of my sentences has definitely taken on a British flow and I keep talking down, down, down. I still say that Princesses live in ‘CAR-sils’ and not ‘cass-els’ though.

I don’t think I sound British and don’t think I ever will, but over the last four years, I have been in many situations where people have struggled to pin-point my accent. I have been asked if I am South African a few times, to which I simply respond by walking away shaking my head.

I think having lived in Perth, Paris and Manchester, my accent has evolved into a fairly international hodgepodge of sayings, accents, tones and speeds. Living in Paris meant that I often spoke English to people who had learnt it as a second language. I would therefore change my sentence structure, speed and enunciation in order to help them understand what I was saying. I have to do similar things in Manchester – some of my Australianisms go in one ear and out the other with the Brits.

If ears could cringe, mine have been doing that a lot lately. I have always known that the true-blue Aussie accent isn’t the most pleasant sound in the world, but holy moly. Some people sound like they have pegs stuck on their noses and that they’re imitating the long, drawn out caws of the local magpies. So I’m kind of pleased that I sound a little bit like a snooty-Brit trying to impress the Queen with my rounded vowels. How now brown cow.

Rowter vs Rooter

Monday, October 28th, 2013

My new job as an IT guru has placed me in a difficult position with my co-workers. As the only Australian on the IT help desk team, I am being significantly teased for my pronunciation of the word “Router”. Every day we received numerous phone calls from users in funeral care parlours who have lost their internet connections or are having trouble with their ADSL phone lines. We are often asking them to reboot their routers or check that they have actually been plugged in in the first place. This is all fine, except for the fact that I am having to have discussions (arguments) with both colleagues and the people I am helping on the phone as to whether the word is pronounced rOW-ter or rOOt-er.

Generally speaking, Australians use British spelling and pronunciation for words, however it seems we have picked up the American twang for this piece of technology. I am finding myself wanting to join sides with my British colleagues and am starting to pronounce it as they do. I certainly don’t say “I am taking the scenic route” with an American ‘ow’, so why do we use it for this? So I have decided that I am willing to accept defeat but I plan on doing it as quietly as possible. There’s no need for my co-workers to feel that they have beaten me. I won’t, however, start pronouncing ‘castle’ like a northerner. Ca-ssle instead of Car-sle. That’s just weird.

Good Translations

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

On Saturday I escorted Becky to the Running Expo – the pre-marathon event where all of the competitors collected their bibs, bought new shoes and sampled brightly coloured energy drinks. The expo was huge and there was a large range of sporting companies selling their wares as well as information stalls about up and coming marathons, long distance runs and cross-country adventure circuits.

As part of the bib collection, Becky also received a handy backpack full of goodies – free energy supplement samples, a nifty bandana, and information about Sunday’s run. There was an A5 booklet containing all of the information you need to do the marathon such as starting times and dinner suggestions for the night before (eat rice.) The booklet was in both French and English and it soon became obvious that the English translation was done by someone who can’t actually speak English. As we stood in line waiting to buy a coffee, we flipped through the booklet and discovered this page, the results of which had us almost falling on the floor with laughter.

Marathon information

I think I need to offer my editing services.

As the image is small and it may be hard to read, allow me to highlight the most interesting of the ‘Last advices before start’ – Don’t forget 2 small bandages for your tits. How exactly they got this from the French version which says “Two bandages to fix on the nipples to avoid abrasions” I’m not sure. There were many interesting translations throughout the booklet – I wonder how I get them to let me have a quick read through the translation before they press print. Considering the fact that a large proportion of the marathon competitors were from countries other than France I would have thought they would put more effort and money into checking the English translation. Or maybe they were wanting to slow down the English-speaking runners by making them laugh so hard they got stitches and therefore the French would win. Ooh… sneaky!

 

Jolly Good London-Town

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Jolly good. Rightio. That’s rubbish. Woh?!

As you can see, I became fluent in Pom while in London. Considering I spent the first two days apologising in French every time I bumped into someone, I think I have done quite well. I have since returned to Paris and appear to have forgotten how to speak French. Not so good.

Anyway, London was fun although it is one of my least favourite capital cities in the world. I don’t know what it is about London but I always find it confusing, over commercialised and lacking personality. Perhaps it is because I haven’t spent enough time there but usually when I go to a new city there is something about it that really interests and excites me. I don’t get that with London. There is plenty to see and do and I love the ‘free museums’ concept but it feels a little bit stale. I do think it is a beautiful city when the sun shines and the buildings turn a brighter shade of grey and the parks are lovely, but there really is something miserable about London. I honestly felt that Paris looked bright and cheerful in comparison when I returned home, despite the dirt and grime.

A highlight of the trip was our adventures with Tom’s family. We met a few of Tom’s mum’s cousins and were taken on a tour and out for lunch and dinner in the English countryside. Now THAT is something I enjoy. English countryside is beautiful, no matter what the weather, with its rolling hills and green, green grass. It is so fresh and colourful and the little country towns are quaint and adorable. We had good weather for our outing in the country which made things even better, but it was so nice to meet some of Tom’s extended family and to experience a bit of England outside the capital.

England

Green grass, blue skies, white clouds.

We were generously housed by my friends Angela and James who let me sleep on their blow up mattress every time I come to London. They are great hosts and always take me on out-of-the-ordinary nights out – this trip was no exception. On our first night in London, they had organised a dinner at an Austrian restaurant where we ate huge pieces of pork, drank giant steins of beer and Tom and I played the cow bells with the restaurant owner/entertainer who sang Austrian songs throughout the night. It was quite a spectacle. Once again I left thinking, “London has one crazy night life, or maybe it is just Angela and James.”

Austrian bells

Ring a ding ding!

We did manage to visit a few pubs while in England which is something I enjoy. France doesn’t have the same pub culture and seriously lacks good beer and cider. We also gorged on a few decent burgers to fulfil a desire that had been burning since we left Australia and Jus Burgers.

Byron Burger

A Byron Burger

One thing that London has done right is its museum and art gallery culture – I presume it is because everyone needs somewhere to hide while it is raining outside, so they make galleries free to enter. Fantastic. It means you can wander into a museum or gallery and not feel bad about just seeing part of the exhibitions. You can pick the bits that really interest you and then head to the next gallery when you’re done. We managed to visit the British Museum and the British Library and thanks to James’s membership card, we got into the Miro exhibition at the Tate Modern for free. I had been to see a Miro exhibition in Paris a few months ago and saw an extensive range of his sculptures. This time it was mostly his paintings and it was nice to see some more of his work. I really like his style and found it a particularly pleasing display.

So that was London. I have already prattled on about the concert and the mud on my shoes so I won’t go into that again. Tomorrow we catch a plane to New York (it seems the hurricanes have moved on) which I am now very excited about. I’m not so excited about the flight over but I will survive. I will try and write from the Big Apple, even if it is just to say, “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY ON THURSDAY!”

Flight Update

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Well, we’re back in Paris, I have done a load of washing and we have been to the supermarket and restocked the fridge. We’re on ‘healthy eating’ diets for the next while so we bought lots of vegetables and we’re replacing wine with sparkling water. I’d like to put a specific period of time on our new eating plan but we all know it won’t actually last long. I haven’t done the big weigh in yet and don’t plan on doing so until tomorrow morning, although discovering that I am 10 kilograms heavier thanks to Dutch poffetjes, German beer and Greek olive oil is maybe not the best self-esteem booster before going to a job interview. ANYHOO. We’ll have hot bods to go with our sexy tans before you know it.

So I promised to let you know who sat next to me on the flight from Athens to Paris. The answer: no one. It was great! But I do want to tell you about the family who were sitting in the row behind us. It was a couple in their late 30s with their 4-ish year old son. The man was German and I’m not entirely sure what the woman was but either Spanish or French. Anyway, the little boy is who caught my attention as he happily kicked the back of my chair and sang songs and talked loudly in German, French, English and Spanish. Fluently. He moved slickly between the languages, turning to his Dad and speaking German and then back to his Mum in French. Clearly every family member spoke every language as they all chopped and changed between them. It was just AMAZING. I was so jealous – I wanted to turn around and congratulate the parents and shake the boy’s hand for being so brilliant. Being that young and having so many languages is just wonderful. Sure, I think he needs to learn some manners and he was never disciplined for kicking the seat or banging the tray table, but he can travel the world and communicate easily. I’m going to have to have severe words with my parents now. This just isn’t fair.

Meanwhile, Paris is just as crazy and noisy as when we left. Apparently we went on a holiday… I’m not sure. I don’t remember.

Busy Bizzy Busi

Monday, March 29th, 2010

The English language is a real odd-ball sometimes. I am currently receiving French tuition from a lovely French girl who loves language just as much as I do. When we sit and discuss the conjugation of French verbs and I ask questions that generally sound like, “Why do you say that?” we are constantly questioning the logic behind both the English and French languages. Sometimes it’s just plain STUPID. I think English takes the cake for Most Stupid Language in Existence, though. There are so many rules and so many exceptions to those rules resulting in the rules being wastes of time.

One of my biggest gripes is the fact that we don’t spell words how they sound. The fact that homophones and homonyms exist is just annoying. Life at primary school would have been so much more enjoyable if I hadn’t been forced to learn homophones. Actually, who am I kidding? I loved learning homophones but that’s because I’m a word nerd. This rant all stemmed from an email I was just writing. I was trying to write a version of the word “business” incorporating the word “whack.” I couldn’t decide how to spell it. Buswhack was my first option, an obvious derivative of business. But really that describes what happens when you get hit by a large people carrier. I then wanted to add an ‘i’ to create the right sound but business puts the ‘i’ after the ‘s’. I was oh so confused. I ended up writing ‘Bizwhack’ and avoiding the whole business concept and then wrote a lengthy explanation about what I was trying to write.

It amazes me how people can learn English when they have to get over the concept that “read” and “read” are both present and past tense. I suppose the French do similar things and I have recently discovered that there are about 5 additional tenses of French verbs that I was unaware of during my 7 years of French education. Excellent.
And now a short test for you all. Spot the error on this Sydney-based sign and win fabulous prizes!

Roed Closures sign

Good work, kids.