Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Say 'waw-tah'! Say 'waw tah' again!

[Michele] Our American accents certainly draw a lot of attention these days.  A lot of Aussies will ask me where I'm from.  My responses alternate between US (duh), Massachusetts (where the heck is that?) or New England (No, you aren't New England is in New South Wales, Australia and you don't sound like you are from there).

The kids have been getting a lot of attention at school for their accents.  The popular requests seem to be a question to Will "What is your sister's name?" and to Robin "Say water again!".  Of course Americans pronounce water pretty much as it is spelled wah-ter.  Note that the 'r' is present and accounted for and the short 'a' sound does its job.  Aussies embellish their pronunciation a fair bit by adding some extra 'w's and removing the 'r' for good luck (waw-tah).  Robin's school friends had fun the first day trying to pronounce water like Americans.  It came out something like WAHH-TERR, which Robin found hysterical.

Meanwhile, Will was getting challenged with another vowel, the short 'o'.   Aussies just can't seem to master our short 'o' and found Will's pronunciation of Robin's name delightfully entertaining. Apparently the first day a group of 3rd year girls kept bringing different friends back to Will to ask his sister's name over and over again at recess. The next day he resorted to steering clear of them part way through recess.  Robin's friends had similar fun trying to pronounce 'mom'.  She reports that they just couldn't do it.  Their version comes out sounding like 'mome' to us.  Likewise, we have a hard mastering the delightfully nasal aussie long 'o', such as in 'no'.  I've noticed that Queenslanders have a particularly impressive 'no'.  I wish I pull it off, but Robin rolls her eyes at me and shakes her head every time I try my hand at a Queensland 'no'.

For whatever reason, American accents seem to interest a lot of the Australians that we meet. One of Robin's friend said that she could listen to American accents all day long.  Hmm.  I even had one person remark to me that I have a wonderful sounding accent.  Because of my hearing loss, I've had years of speech therapy and I have never had anyone ever say that my voice/accent was pleasing.  So yeah, I was shocked that she said that.  Maybe it was because I was asking Robin if she had her water bottle.  I will try to come up with a sentence with maximum number of short 'o's for when I next see the lady who complimented me.

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