March 30, 2006

My Accent

I'm still getting used to being the one with an accent.
For example, I was just talking with Colin and said "why is money so hard?" ... to which he replied, "why, does it hurt?" I sat there for a second, trying to figure out the metaphor (he is a trained pastor, he must be smart like that, and let's face it, Jesus hardly ever answered the way you'd expect). Then he realized what I'd said, which he heard as "why is my knee so hard?" It confused us both.
The funniest example so far was yesterday, when we checked out the house that we've (mostly) decided that we're going to rent. It's in a little suburb called Coburg, and it's this cute little two bedroom unit with a yard, and vaulted ceiling in the kitchen. The real estate agent came up and let us in and was guiding us around the place, showing off the features. As we were in the kitchen, he asked us, "so, your accent is what, Canadian?"
Troy, stop laughing.
I replied that no, we're Americans from New York, half expecting to have to explain that it's 250 miles northwest of NYC (fortunately I didn't have to, as I have so many other times since we arrived). But that's what I've heard is the way they do things with North American visitors - they first ask if you're Canadian, because Americans don't care if they're called Canadian, but Canadians get upset to be called American, and then tell the Australian "how would you like to be called a Kiwi?" A kiwi is a person from New Zealand, apparently Australia's equivalent of America to Canada.
It's amusing, being a foreigner. I can see why the missionaries I've met in the past seem to be good communicators: they've learned that it's ok to laugh at themselves, because really, nobody can actually understand what they're saying unless they try to speak to the language - and especially to the accent - of the individual, a language which changes from person to person, even if it's only slightly. It's rather difficult, but fun at the same time.

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