sydneyoperahouse

Tie me kangaroo down sport

Language is a funny thing, it’s supposed to bring us together but so often it does exactly the opposite. 

From jokes about giving the Americans a language and they broke it, to jokes about Australians not opening their mouths for fear of flies taking up residence, hence the nasal twang.

We all love to take the piss out of another region’s accent, but until recently I have always thought of English as being English wherever you go.

Imagine my surprise then when I was reading a regular email I get sent that lists available marketing positions. There were a couple of interesting ones – Social media, freelance writer, Marketing Manager – and then there was this really interesting one! It read:

Wanted: Marketing Research Interviewers, pick up provided in London area. hours 1200 midnight – 6am. NOTICE: Must be fluent Australian English speakers as you will be speaking with the Australian public.

Which left me puzzling; How do you speak Australian English? Let alone fluently!

Would the Kylie-Sound-a-likes get on the phone dial the number Down Under and start their spiel like this..

“Gidday! I’m Andrea calling from XYZ company and I was wondering if I could take a leetle bit of your tiime today to discuss our bonza product ‘Bollocks’. It’ll only take a sec, and you’ll be back with ya Bruce BBQ-ing those prawns and the ankle biters in no time at all. Bloody oath it’s a good product! But I don’t wanna earbash ya. Have yeeu heard about Bollocks before?”

And if you think that’s an unlikely scenario I have to confess I’ve heard what the Brits think passes as ‘Strine. I was once driving around with the radio on when I heard an ad asking you to look at their used cars and in return for your attention “one lucky customer would be sent Down Under to visit Bruce in Wag uh wag uh. ”

No one had seen fit to advise the ad company that Wagga Wagga is pronounced Wog a Wog a.

I suppose we shouldn’t be too hard on the Brits, after all they find it hard enough to understand each other. It’s only relatively recently that regional accents were acceptable on national radio. In fact, they are now so common that the country has seen a huge increase in broadcasting services with regional accents – like Matt Baker (Northern lad) or Alex Jones (Welsh lass) on the BBC, and  the whole crew of Radio One who have created their very own version of Estuarine English. (Somewhere between East Enders and RP).

It has caused a few problems however. In Birmingham a social services organisation recently replaced its call centre with an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) computer that had a few problems understanding the local accent. Apparently the system was failing to recognise digits like ‘feuve’, ‘severn’ and ‘noine’ and would hold the caller on a repetitive loop constantly asked them to repeat their details.

Asking them in a computerised Geordie accent, that is. Whoops!

I’ve had the same problems myself with the very same kind of systems here in the UK, and that’s with six years’ worth of Speech lessons from Trinity College, London!

But the funniest thing of all I’ve read on the subject of accent is this piece about the dreadful affliction- Sudden Onset Regional Accent Syndrome (SORAS) And explains how all of a sudden posh kids are talkin about nuffink as if they grew up in the Sarf.

Those Brits are weird eh?

I wonder how many hang-ups those researchers would get?

 

Links: Australian Slang Kiwi -isms (Just so you know!)

 

  • uniquenique01

    So funny I am not sure at all what one would classify as proper Australian English I have a hard enough time trying to speak and understand American English :D I think we all have taken liberties with English and the language has grown in all sorts of different directions that I am sure was never intended but that is what makes traveling such fun :D

    • vegemitevix

      I know. I couldn’t believe my eyes. And then I wondered how it would sound. Would it be Sydney Australian, or Brisbane Australian with a little bit of Tassie thrown in?

  • expatmum

    Ha ha ha ha. I can completely sympathise with anyone having problems with those ruddy voice activated customer service centres. It doesn’t help that my name has an R in the middle, and even when I try to spell it, the American robo-woman never understands me. Great post.

    • vegemitevix

      I can’t even get the local folk to understand me sometimes let alone automated answering services.

  • MidlifeSinglemum

    I bet when you get there people won’t be able to place your accent. It’s probably changed more than realize. Sometimes in England people ask me where I’m from.

    • vegemitevix

      Apparently we have all changed accents. Though I know that when I’m around family and friends I fall back into mimicking back the accent I’m hearing. My hubby’s the same. I find it hard to understand his family (North Yorkshire) sometimes and when we’re with them he’s a little incomprehensible too.

  • anne

    I find this very very amusing .. don’t you have American English too , which is different to English or British English whatever it si called …also I have a hard job understanding lots of accents in the UK .. Yorkshire Lancashire .. Newcastle and Birmingham (which you said about .. even then there are a few accents within the city) and today two people from Manchester I think they were speaking slowly so I could understand them .. but even that was hard .

    I also see that you mention the Radio 1.. half of them need to go to lessons .. I think they have made their own accent up … !! I am from the South and do not talk like that nor do the majority of youth or their parents that I know …

    • vegemitevix

      I know what you mean about the different accents here in the UK. There are so many, and the funniest thing of all is that often there are completely different accents in towns only about 10 miles apart! Strange eh.

  • http://twitter.com/fl2native fl2native

    Same problem over here in Florida. Most people who reside here are from the northern realms. Crackers like me sometimes have a difficult time figuring out what they’re talking about. I had a tennis instructor from New York. He kept telling me that I needed to put an “auk” on the ball. I had no idea how to do that. Did I need to buy one? Where would I get one? Finally one of the other players figured out that he was saying I needed to put an “arc” on the ball.

    • vegemitevix

      Hahahaha I think I’d have a real problem putting an ‘auk’ on the ball! :-) My Englishman often laughs at my pronunciation of known – I say no-en he says nown.

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