Accent misunderstandings

mjd   Thursday, March 11, 2004, 04:35 GMT
In one of the threads that got erased I was talking about how we native speakers of English adjust our ears to each others' accents. I can only think of one time when I misunderstood what a Briton said because of his accent:

I work part-time as a waiter. I was taking a drink order from 6 people, all of whom I thought were Americans. They were all reciting their drink orders to me, but when I got to the last guy, he said that he wanted a "hop." After excusing myself and asking him to repeat himself, it became apparent that the man was British and I immediately understood that he had said "Harp," as in Harp Irish Lager. Had I known he was British, I wouldn't have made the mistake, but he had only said one word and usually that's not enough to determine another person's accent.

That is why I say, if one is having a conversation, it'd be impossible for a Briton and American to mistake "potty" for "party" and vice-versa...because of the context and the way we adjust our ears.
Alice   Thursday, March 11, 2004, 04:49 GMT
I think that's probably true 99% of the time, but occasionally context isn't much help. For example, when hearing someone with a cockney accent say "shirty" quickly, at first I though he'd daid "shitty", but after a moment I figured it out.
Anarchist   Thursday, March 11, 2004, 14:05 GMT
Ia agree, I have trouble understanding Irish accents some times,buI usually figure it out based on the sbject of the conversation.