Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Speaky My Language?

Although born and raised in the south, I don't have the accent you might associate with say...Scarlett O'Hara. Oh sure, I've USED it before. Mostly to prove a point to a friend from New York who thought southerners "talked cute". So I dragged out my for-tourists-only-authentic-Scarlett-drawl. Fifteen minutes later he begged me to stop. A little of that molasses in winter speech pattern goes a long way. Besides, it takes forever to make a statement with that many syllables.

Although television has pretty much homogenized American accents, I still retain a small measure of my southern heritage...meaning when I'm tired, "five" and "nine" sound like Scarlett. However, I feel sure most of you would understand what I said the first time. I wasn't so lucky in my own country yesterday.

When I arrived home, hubby was still swamped in his archery shop as this is his busiest season. He asked me to return the call from the company which is now in charge of monitoring our alarm system so they could do a quick system check.

"Just ask for Jack," he said.

I called the number and a woman with a thick Wisconsin voice answered. I advised I was returning a call and needed to speak to a gentleman named Jack.

"Okay. Just a minute," she replied, sounding very much like Garrison Keillor. Only deeper.

A minute later she came back on the line. "May I help you?"

"I was holding for Jack," I replied patiently, just relieved to be free of the really bad "hold" music I'd been tortured with. It was so bad, I can't even remember the song, just that it was from the 1970s and it was awful even then.

"You need to talk to Jack about the job position?" she inquired.

"No ma'am. I'm returning his call about a system check of our alarm."

"Oh," she growled out. "You mean Jock. Just a minute."

The phone rang again and a man with a Boston accent answered cheerfully,"Jack."

Sigh.

Oh sure, I wanted to ask how he spelled his name. I was tempted to ask him what planet the receptionist was from. But I was afraid of the answer.

The system check took less than a minute. Literally. But as I hung up, one thought kept racing through my mind. Does more than one guy named Jack work there...or does the receptionist's pronunciation determine who takes the call?

13 comments:

mapstew said...

A drinking friend (as in, we know her from the pub, not as in she drinks ALL the time) of ours has an accent which changes dramatically as the evening wears on! (OK, she drinks a lot ALL the time!)

She starts the evening with a regular 'local' accent, (and a couple of gins) but by closing time she sounds like Queen Elizabeth! (We're all Irish!)

'pub' becomes 'pab'
'club' becomes 'clab'
'Tony' becomes 'Tany' etc. etc.

I becomes drunk!

xxx

Dan. said...

When I come over to the US, I find I always take on a more English accent, until by the end of it I sound like Rex Harrison from My Fair Lady.

When I am at home I speak with a slight Cockney twang....guvna.

Your story made me laugh though. Perhaps Jack and Jock were twins? Have you thought of that?

steven said...

hope when i left england i said book - the double "o" sounded like the letter "u" in ruler. a couple of good poundings by the local boys and i learned to say buk just like the canadians!!! peaceful evening hope. steven

hope said...

Map...for a moment I was beginning to wonder during my conversation if I was drunk...and I don't drink. :) I get the giggles when someone begins "putting on airs".

Dan...that's funny! [Not your accent. That's charming. Twins=funny]. What if they have an evil triplet, who's "Jeck"...as in Jekyll?

Steven, I've always been a fan of accents...which drives hubby crazy. I joke that I'm the unofficial "translator" when we watch any movies with English, Irish or Scottish accents. Then again, I tease the British ladies I work with to the point one told me recently, "You're getting too good at that!" I'm an equal opportunity student: I ask the Scottish lady to repeat things too. :)

Terence McDanger said...

My Cavan accent gets ridiculous when I'm drunk, or if I'm on the phone to someone from home.

Well, the Cavan accent is ridiculous in general, but you know what I mean.

Grace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mapstew said...

@TerMcD; Surely you mean your Keyavven accent!?

(Or leest I tink so, says de Limrik man!)

hope said...

McDanger, having never experienced your accent first hand, I can't comment....but you just KNOW I'd think all of you gentlemen here would have charming accents. Guess I can ask Susan who she can vouch for. :)

Dear Deleted: yeah, right. Drop me in NY and they'd figure it out quickly. Funny thing is hometown folks are always asking me, "Yes, but where were you from before you moved here?" :) I talk too fast to be from 'round cheer'. Brother? I use to have one of those before he gottoo important for the rest of us mere mortals. ;p

Map, keep it up and not only will I continue to demand the YouTube performance, I'm going to figure out how you people can leave messages I can listen to. xx

Peggy said...

The more I have to drink, the slower I talk. If I'm drinking with someone with an accent then I start talking with an accent.. Not pretty....!!!
Calling anyone in Wisco is an adventure!

shug said...

och, I always imagined you spoke like Blanche Du Bois

Bill ~ {The Old Fart} said...

Just goes to show what a big wide wonderful world this is with the different accents. I've been living here in Alberta for over 13 years and I still have part of my East Coast Accent.

hope said...

Peggy, I'd love to hear that! My hubby has a habit of talking to people in their own accent and I can't believe no one catches on...or feels insulted! Guess it's because he's just one of those can talk to anyone people. :)

Shug, I don't believe I've ever relied on the kindness of strangers....well, except in Blog World. :) You just reminded me that I did record that poem for Rachel at her site. If I get brave, I'll find the link and let the rest of them pick on me. :)

Bill, I think where we're from will always show up when we least expect it. :) At least I know mine will usually show up when I'm tired.

Dr.John said...

The English language is such fun. Accents just add to the mess.