You know, if I had to blog about one culture in the world for a day, my first choice would probably be the British. There’s a lot of stuff there that I could write about. Stuff like:
1. The food. I actually might do a post on this one. As you might know, it’s not considered the best in the world. Rather closer to the other end of the spectrum.
2. The literature. They’ve given us such masters as Shakespeare, Milton, and Orwell. Any high school students reading this may at this point proceed to bang their heads in agony while I laugh. Sorry, you guys will have your time too! Eventually! But seriously, a lot of my favorite writers are British, including those three.
3. Their film industry.
But the British have this one thing that simply makes everything else irrelevant to me.
Oh Lord, the accent.
I think my introduction to this strange but wonderful way of speaking occurred with Harry Potter movies. It was either that or Bond movies. At any rate, ever since I first heard it, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. How the Os were drawn out and the Rs left incomplete… how naturally it all flowed off the tongue… how sophisticated it made everything sound. I know you can say that for just about every European accent, but this was like a moment of discovery to someone who had heard one for the first time. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the first Harry Potter film about 150 times, so that helped 11-year-old me to develop a firm sense of what proper English (as in England English. You know what I mean.) sounded like. Namely, it sounded like Emma Watson. I’d sometimes mouth the dialogue as I read the books, embellishing it with the accent. I would have felt too silly actually doing it aloud.
A digression: It’s funny, because my English tutor from back when I was in Korea (my mom signed me up to the Kumon service when I was eight, and over there Kumon sends you tutors to your house weekly) sort of had an English accent, now that I think about it. If I paid attention to pronunciation back then instead of slacking off, I could actually have had the accent myself. (I suppose I sort of have a Korean accent in my English. But that doesn’t count.)
As a resident of the state of Washington, where the weather is probably the only thing that resembles Britain, I didn’t exactly get to meet a lot of people with any accent. An exception is my friend Jessica, who can do a Welsh (if I remember correctly) accent. It’s not exactly the same as English, but it’s not really noticeable to me. Which is why I absolutely melt when she does it. In fact, if she wasn’t such a nice person, she could totally exploit the heck out of my weakness. For example:
Sunny (I call her that): “Hey Janie (she calls me that. Long story), can I ask a favor?”
Me: “Bestfriendddd. What’s up?”
Sunny: “I need you to paint all your nails hot pink before doing a photoshoot in various highly embarrassing poses. Just in case I ever needed to, you know, blackmail you or something.”
Sunny (with accent): “You know you want t-”
Me: “Where’s the closest nail salon?”
Sunny (still with accent): “I knew you’d agree with m-”
Me: “I CAN’T STAND IT ANYMORE!!! Please just have hot, passionate sex with me right here.”
Sunny (normal voice): “What did you just say?”
This is why I’m so grateful that she’s too good of a friend to actually do this. (Right?) I hope this didn’t give anyone any ideas though.
But as I was saying, I don’t really get to meet accented (is that an appropriate way to say it?) people on a regular basis. Which is why my knowledge of such accents stem almost exclusively from media. Yeah, I know. Pretty sad. But that’s why accents make such a strong impression on me–because in media, they highlight certain characteristics that people have. You know, Judi Dench’s charisma, Corinne Bailey Rae’s austerity, Simon Cowell’s wryness. Their accents put so much color into what they do. If I heard accented English all the time, from people that don’t necessarily have as immediately striking a characteristic as celebrities do, I guess it wouldn’t sound like anything special anymore. So I’m okay with the comparative lack of accents spoken here.
You know what would be really cool though? If a British person spoke Korean with an accent. Not even trying to imitate proper Korean pronunciation–just speaking the language with all the English intonations. That would be something. If you know someone who can demonstrate this (personally or impersonally), or you are someone who can demonstrate this, please let me know. I’d love to hear!