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?