19:57 Mon 07 Aug 2006
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Accent has always been an issue for me in Ireland, because I don’t sound Irish, despite seventeen years of living here. Ireland gets tons of American tourists, so the natural assumption of people that I encounter here is that I’m a tourist. This bothers me, although I’m not entirely sure why. I don’t expect any kind of camaraderie from one Irish person to another, as that doesn’t make sense in Ireland (although not being able to expect it from Irish abroad is another story). It might be that the image of the American tourist rankles and so I don’t want to be placed in that group, since I clearly don’t belong there. But given that the only people who might treat me as a tourist are people who don’t know me, why does it trouble me at all?

One factor is the importance of accent here. In the US, accents are much less meaningful socially, and are also significantly more homogenous. Here, it’s often possible to tell quite precisely where someone lives and or what their social class is by their accent. In other words, accents are important markers of identity, and not always in positive or just ways.

Maybe it just bothers me because it reminds me of all the hassle I got for it when I was a kid, and that comes to mind more now when I visit than when I lived here.

2 Responses to “Accent”

  1. kevintel Says:

    Yes, the accent has always been a sticking point for you, hasn’t it? In so far as you did often in the past wonder how some people could pick up accents very quickly, and yet you never truly lost the American twang in yours. Some people just adapt better with certain things; hence I’ve picked up bits of every accent and haven’t really established where I’m from. Canada, according to some. Is it connected to language skills or social adaptivity? It’s an issue which is not unconnected to your previous post about location; all part of defining an identity to call your own.

    I must say, I admire your apparently successful determination to post ever day. But switch off comment moderation, and install Bad Behaviour and Spam Karma instead.

  2. Tadhg Says:

    Yes, I did often wonder how people could pick up accents very quickly, but with me a significant amount of it was determination, a reaction to the hassle I got as a kid that. I don’t really think it’s connected to language skills, and “social adaptivity” is rather broad.

    It’s definitely connected to my previous post, but without a strong sense of home, I don’t have any concept of a “home accent”, either. Identity definition is a big aspect of it, sure, but that’s not really connected to a strong sense of “home” for me either.

    For the moment, I like comment moderation. Thanks for the tips, though, and I’ll definitely keep them in mind for the future.

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