Culture Shock : Language and Accents

Culture Shock : Language and Accents

Image of an evergreen tree in front of a cafe, with a sign that says "Cream Tea £2.50" sitting on the ground in front of it.

Dear Britain, 

Despite thinking the English language is the English language, wherever you are in the world, it’s not. British English is a whole different organism compared to American English. 

For at least the first 5 years after I moved here, even to today, I hear words, turns of phrase, and cultural references that I have absolutely no idea what they mean. I’m in a constant state of “What did you say?” If I have to speak to a person I don’t know on the phone, I often have to close my eyes, in an effort to cut out visual stimulation, so I can focus on the words and accents. 

I am getting better at recognising regional accents, but am nowhere near the skill of my husband, who can narrow down accents to a section of town. I couldn’t even do that in the States. My family in the States say they can tell that my accent is changing. I can’t, except for small turns of phrases like, “bits and bobs”or “you all right?” 

I suppose it eventually seeps in. I still hear my nasally American accent when I speak, and I’m still the person in my rural village with the funny accent. 


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