question about British and American accents
I was wondering if Brits are so obsessed about the non American accent like Americans are....
Every where I go foreigners are asked :"where are you from ?"
I personally don't ask, or very rarely I do it, but it become kind of anoying.
Are there many Brits who ask this question?
***Are there many Brits who ask this question?***
No. It's not an obsession here....if it was we would spend our entire time asking people asking people where they came from as there are so many accents buzzing around. Those from the British Isles are more or less identifiable, or roughly linked to a region, by most Brits...the rest are all....well, foreign! :-) Just joking......actually to many reasonably educated people here it's possible to roughly guess where non Brits come from unless it's a less well known and more obscure accent.
(sorry people but the following statement may be offensive)
Americans generally almost have no geography knowledge about other foreign countries other from their neighbours - Mexico and Canada. That partly explains why Americans are "interested" (I wouldn't use the term "obsession" sounds abit harsh) about other English accents.
I think it's only human nature to be inquisitive, Whether a person asks or not they will probably be thinking to themselves "Where is this person from?"
<Generally speaking, people's accents are not an obsession among Americans either and few actually pay any attention to differences in English accents. Nevertheless, Americans are historically more insular and less familiar with foreigners than Europeans and very suspicious of people who speak with foreign accents. >
Excellent way of putting it Bennus....
Suspicious of what? LOL whatever that means.
Not suspicious, curious! And it's not a lack of geographical knowledge so much as the fact that there is little premium in the US on learning to place accents strictly by ear, as they have little social implication for us. I will even ask other Americans where they are from if I hear them speak differently, because I have never been good at placing domestic accents.
I have to agree with Uriel. Suspicious is much too harsh a word and in my opinion, pretty wrong to describe the situation. When people hear an accent, they are usually just curious where that accent is from.
A lady (Amercian) was talking to my husband an I a few days ago on a park trail. She had struck up some friendly conversation as we watched a beautiful sunset. After we had been speaking for a bit, she asked where my husband (Italian) was from. This was not because she was afraid of him, but because she was curious and went on to recount that she had just moved back from Europe, where she had spent some time in Italy.
Suspicious? Like when the American Japanese and American Germans were suspected of helping the axis during WWII?
Or when someone has an Arabian accent they are associated with Usama/Osama?
>>Not suspicious, curious! And it's not a lack of geographical knowledge so much as the fact that there is little premium in the US on learning to place accents strictly by ear, as they have little social implication for us. I will even ask other Americans where they are from if I hear them speak differently, because I have never been good at placing domestic accents.<<
The only time I have been asked where I was from in a situation in Real Life where such was likely linked to my accent was once in an airport in SF, where I and a worker at a sub place were having quite a hard time understanding each other. The worker was clearly a non-native English-speaker, and most noticably never aspirated plosives, making it sound as if none of the words he said began with fortis plosives. At the end of the transaction, he asked me where the hell I was from, as if it was that he just had problems understanding my particular dialect rather than English overall.
This supposition was clearly substantiated in turn by the next customer's transaction, where the the same employee had no problems understanding that customer's English at all. My guess as to why this happened to begin with is that the person had ended up specifically learning California English alone, without much exposure to a wider range of English dialects such as those from the Upper Midwest.
However, more than one individual has commented that they thought I had a foreign accent, for whatever reason. There are a range of reasons why someone could think such, especially if associated particular features, such as stopping word-initial interdentals or full word-final devoicing, with foreign-ness, but at least one of these cases involved individuals who most likely already lived in this area, which would likely rule out such cases.
Of course people were "suspicious" and scared in that era.
In the Europe of that era, people were "suspicious" of Jews, communists, homosexuals, Gypsies, etc, etc... If you weren't suspicious then you were scared of the fascists.
That comment up at the top about Americans not knowing anything about geography may look offensive but sadly its true. I used to watch Jay Leno and he would do this "Jaywalking" segment where he would go out into the streets of Los Angeles and ask random people simple questions.
"What language do they speak in Austria?"
"How far away is Cuba?"
"Well...I could probably drive there in a few hours, right?"
"What's the capital of the US?"
"Las Vegas?" (no kidding, someone really said that)
***"What language do they speak in Austria?"
That comes as no surprise but to be fair, I would bet that if a random street poll in the UK asked the same question of passers by there would be a few puzzled expressions, but it's also a safe bet that the majority would say German...unless of course they chose Glasgow on a Saturday night......or maybe any night......or day.... ;-) Just joking, Jimmy....
The Americans are famously known worldwide for their general insularity.....ask those English/British people in the USA who have been asked what is the Language spoken in England, or have been complimented on how well they managed to learn to speak English for their visit to America! Check out both the American Expats in the UK website and the British Expats in the USA for firm confirmation of that. LOL
I'm sure no one here has figured out that they edit out the people who give correct answers in favor of just showing the people that makes fools of themselves.
But then again, I'm sure you all want to believe this is how "Americans" are. I know someone who ranted at length about how Europeans were better educated, especially about their own country and SURROUNDING countries in Europe, not to mention other countries.
I asked my husband what the capital of Belgium was - he didn't know.
I asked my husband what the capital of Sweden was - he didn't know.
I asked my husband what the capital of Spain was - no clue.
I asked him what the capital of Peru was - no clue again.
And so on for Bolivia, Chile, Canada - etc.
He got Argentina, Italy (duh), France, Denmark, Egypt and Switzerland.
Go European education. I see now that they know geography much better than we Americans...
I'm not claiming to be the queen of geography, but I would do no worse* than my husband on such an interrogation, and I doubt it would be much different than anyone else.
*in my opinion, probably much better, but I was always good at geography. And yes, I know all 50 state capitals by heart.
Maybe your husband is in a minority. Educated and no educated people exist in every country. It is a fact of life. When people say Europeans are more educated than Americans then they are talking about the majority.