Sunday, July 10, 2011

The British Accent...

As I type this up, I'm cracking up at how absurd this is going to sound but it is oh so true. I'm a Nigerian-American (yes! that is an actual ethnic group these days) with a slight British accent. I say slight because I get told that I have a British accent often, even when I'm not conscious about it. It's weird because when I first meet a person, I make sure I speak in a manner that they can understand however it comes out sounding British; a lot of times the conversation transitions, that is when I first meet a person, I sound British but as time goes on, especially when we are comfortable, they get the full Nigerian treatment with slang, pidgin, exclamations the whole works. I have visited the UK several times but never lived there for longer than a few weeks...my parents schooled in England but they do not have British accents, so I'm not sure how it is that I speak with a British accent, oh wait, it must have been my English teacher in Secondary school, she loved me, because I was a little mini-her, I copied everything she did, from the way she walked to the way she talked, I miss you Mrs. B.

Okay, so here's where it get's absurd - People believe I am extremely smart because of the accent. What! Shocking!! No, I tell you the truth…but this is not to say I am not intelligent because I am but it is an automatic assertion the minute I speak. One day, my sister and in-laws were bantering about my different accents; my sister calls my British accent, business mode, my brother-in-law always kids, you've just got in, yeah, whenever I subconsciously drop in a sentence all British-like. I joked about how people straighten up whenever they hear me speak; they take notice, pay attention almost trance-like, not wanting to miss any nuggets of wisdom. However, if I were to respond with a strictly Nigerian accent, they would immediately switch off and the response would be, what you say, now? We had a good laugh but I decided I would perform a quick experiment to prove my theory.

One day, my sister and I were out and I decided I was hungry and wanted to get a quick snack, we pulled up to a restaurant and I ordered like a regular American, which was all good but when we got to the window, I had additional questions, then I said, yes, that is the one that I want but with every word pronounced fully, just like the British do but with a Nigerian spin…you know ~ dat is de wan dat I want ~ my sister says this was not a fair experiment because the guy was not expecting the transformation when he responded with huh, whatyasanow. But I say it was very fair because I repeated the same sentence but this time with a British accent and he got it and it almost looked like he responded with a bowing of his head and curtsy.

They say don’t judge a book by its cover but I think that’s easier said than done. I believe the vast majority of people in the world trust perception over reality; you know, like all British are proper and smart, all Asians are intelligent and good at science, all Nigerians are crooks, all especially the latter being furthest from the truth. In today’s world nobody has the time to get to know anything or anybody, this is the “Now” generation so knowing that, one should always put their best face forward.

Anyway, I’m off to watch some telly and drink some tea with crumpets…cheerio!


2 comments:

OluwaMayowa Idowu said...

Ironic thing is as I read this, I was watching this video on a similar topic.
http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html

Lolita said...

Hi OluwaMayowa,

Thanks for stopping by, I've seen that video before, I think, what part of it bears the similarity?