Thursday, April 23, 2009

On accent imprinting

Lately Mark has started to pick up a wee Scottish twang which I can take at least some credit for, mostly consisting of him rolling his "r"s herrre therrre and everrrywhere. Words like "tomorrra" and "allrrright" sound slightly out of place in amongst his Midlands vowels but I'm hoping those will soon get Scottishified too!

Accents are contagious! Until the age of 4 I had this kind of well-spoken non/almost Sri Lankan accent. As soon as I hit nursery this became a broad Queensferry accent which I can still turn on like a tap, and since uni my accent has got somewhat corrupted by northern-irishness amongst other things. Bizarrely enough my mum thinks I start to say "like" more often between words when I've spent a bit of time speaking french! Ben c'est comme ca quoi!And then there's all those little habits and turns of phrases we pick up from people. I've picked up all sorts, from adding the suffix "-ness" to the end of all of my adjectives and talking endlessly about "the ban'er" in my school days to adding "so I do" at the end of my sentences and saying everything is "actually ridiculous!" - that would be your fault Michie! Sometimes I pick them up accidently like when I start imitating someone's accent or mannerisms out of appreciation or just to tease them and somewhere down the line it becomes part of my own repetoire.I have a friend who picks up mannerisms from international students and keeps them for at least the year after they leave. It's as though they've left their imprint on him or that it's some kind of prolonged emotional connection.

I think there must be some kind of emotional connection or subconscious choice involved. I never picked up speech habits from people I didn't like or feel some kind of affinity with. Needless to say Mark likes Scotland. And I picked up the Scottish accent with such force when I was little because I was adamant that I was Scottish through and through, nothing more, nothing less. But there's more than just choice involved. I only pick up speech habits when I've spent a lot of time with someone. I do know the odd person who picks up an accent as soon as they start speaking to someone, even if it's one that's reasonably unfamiliar to them, but I am definitely not like that! I quite often forget that it's something similar with us and God. I long to be more like Jesus in character. But in order to make it happen, I need to spend time with him, to really get to know him. And I need to make some kind of conscious or subconscious choice to imitate him. The veil has been taken away and that's a huge deal! why do we so often forget, take this for granted... why don't we just look to Him.


michie said...

as soon as I saw the title I knew there'd be a comment about the speech you picked up from living with me...2 years ago now almost! It's because you love my amazing accent and secretly want a west coast one :P. Wonder if it'll be hard to keep it in Geneva/Paris!?

Dish said...

haha you'll never lose your accent Mich! I can just imagine the French/Cern people saying "Nooo!"