Category Archives: Accents

We sound that bad? (Friday funny)

I’m not sure how I found this video, but it’s both fascinating and hilarious. Have you ever wondered what American English sounds like to a foreigner who speaks no English? I have. This video reminds me of when my younger brother and I were kids and we’d pretend to speak German or French, making up Teutonic- or ou-la-la-sounds and stringing them together. Yeah, we were short on entertainment in the day.


I also found this skit quite funny. I believe it’s from an Australian show, but it looks like the skit takes place in London. Enjoy!

Eagerly awaiting “The September Issue”

Anna Wintour has always fascinated me and it’s not because she’s from England. We’re talking waaaaay before The Devil Wears Prada. And it’s weird because I’m not even an eager reader of Vogue — their fashion features are so far beyond what I’d ever wear in everyday life.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a freelance writer, although I only occasionally write for the women’s mags and never for the fashion rags. Wintour is legend in the magazine industry. The one time I visited the Conde Nast building to meet with an editor (not Vogue!), I vacillated between terror thinking about having to take an elevator ride up with Wintour and hope that I’d ride down with her. Neither happened. But I did spot a huge bouquet of flowers marked for Anna in the lobby.

I’ve been thinking about Wintour a lot lately. There’s been a bit of snark in the NY papers about her cutting back and making do, what with the economy and Vogue‘s ad pages being down, and she’s been spotted wearing the same dresses, one of which I covet from Oscar de la Renta’s Resort 2009 line. Since I can’t afford $3,000 for a silk frock, I’m planning to sew a copy at considerably less cost (thank you Mom for those sewing lessons!) I’ve also been watching some documentaries on Karl Lagerfeld; in “Signe Chanel,” Wintour makes a brief appearance with Andre Leon Talley (Vogue’s editor-at-large) and you can sense the power she wields in the fashion world, even with Kaiser Karl.

So I was happy to discover, then, there’s a new documentary coming out this fall called “The September Issue” where we’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at Wintour putting the famed fall issue of her magazine to bed. Of course I’m going to love watching this as a journalist, but as an Anna groupie? Heaven! Maybe I’ll be able to watch it in my knock-off Oscar de la Renta, that is if I ever get off my duff to start sewing it.

Stephen Fowler: Brit behaving badly

British expat and “Wife Swap” participant Stephen Fowler claims he took up American citizenship because he wanted a voice in how this country is run, but here’s my theory: he’s living here in the US of A because the UK chased him out. I watched the offending episode of “Wife Swap” on YouTube this weekend, but since then all the clips have been pulled. You have to see this guy to believe him. Here’s a “best of” video that’s still posted. [ETA: Oops, it’s gone. And when you go to ABC’s “Wife Swap” page, it looks like they’ve gotten rid of the episode. too. Interesting!]

At first, I thought this nitwit was an actor, but no, he’s the real deal, a San Francisco-based eco-capitalist. I think he settled in the Bay Area because there’s no way Britain would tolerate an educated human being who 1. brags to the camera about his GRE scores and IQ, not only once, but twice in 44 minutes; 2. informs a person in a lower socioeconomic class that he makes more money in one week than she makes in one year; 3. reads a prepared statement to a camera belonging to a reality show production team and 4. wears a never-varying uniform of T-shirts printed with eco-creepy slogans.

I’ve been scanning blogs and bulletin boards all day, and folks are riled up about this “typical British snob.” I don’t agree with that assessment at all. In my mind, he’s a shining example of the prototypical ugly American, an ass without an opinion filter or sensitivity chip.

If any Brits reading this get to check out this guy: Where is this accent from? It sounds put on to me and I can’t quite place it.

US vs. UK on BBC Radio Scotland

Mike Harling (an American in Britain, and author of Postcards From Across The Pond, which I happened to blurb) and Toni Hargis (a Briton in America, and author of Rules, Britannia: An Insider’s Guide to Life in the United Kingdom) squared off yesterday on which country is better — the US or the UK —  on BBC Radio Scotland. The interview starts about 1 hour and 12 minutes into the broadcast — you can move the pointer to that spot.

Toni wrote on her blog that she didn’t say Americans had zero sense of humor as the host claimed (Toni, I loved your Labrador puppy line!). And I think Mike is turning into a Brit because he never interrupted and he wasn’t all rah-rah-America, but calmly and humorously defended his homeland. Who won? Well, poor Mike was outnumbered and being an American myself … come on, of course America rules! Do we really have to debate this?

I liked the discussion about the difference between US and UK humor. Hargis said she dumped her sarcastic sense of humor years ago because Americans don’t get it — we take everything literally. Hmm. To some degree this is true, especially if you’re kidding around with a Midwesterner or Southerner. But in the Northeast — places like the outer boroughs of NYC, south Boston, or northern New England — sarcasm, irony, and black humor are the gold standards for humor. Indeed, Mike — from upstate New York — gave Britons a little taste of this with his comment about guns being the efficacious way to kill someone, versus stomping on them or lighting them afire as they typically do in the gun-wary UK. And I had to tone down my ironic commentary when I married my husband, an earnest corn-fed boy from Michigan who, along with his family, takes everything at face value.

Nevertheless, I give the British the edge on their collective sense of humor, as well as their conversational skills. And it’s not just because I love the way they sound, I swear.

Anyway, it’s a fun listen and both Toni and Mike spoke their sides very well.

Indians want American accents, not English

At one English language school in Mumbai, India, half the students want to speak English with an American accent, not British, reports the Agence France-Presse today. Interesting that one quoted source, a professor of English at the University of Mumbai, suggests the growing popularity of American English may be another way of breaking away from his country’s colonial past with Britain. I’m guessing, though, that the huge numbers of Indians working for U.S. companies in India and abroad drive this desire to sound American.

Love the quote from the 24-year-old computer worker in Mumbai who says speaking English with an American accent gives him, “a boost with the girls.”