Just an ordinary day

I had one of those wonderful days today, when a person can forget that they are living abroad and just work and live. I spent more than two hours with my (?current pc-terminology?) PA/secretary filing things in my office, trying to get the piles of paper down to a manageable level. I don’t think much of what I did today translated into cross-cultural distinctions, and for that I was glad. Some days I’m quite happy to live my life without a constant burden of expat-ness. It’s the funny thing that happens after one has been abroad for a period of time. I guess we adjust and start to see the world differently but don’t notice it as much.

The most shocking part of my day was in going out for dinner (too over-worked to be bothered with cooking) and finding myself seated next to a table of American tourists. I stopped at a restaurant on my way home from work, a place that I have been to on more than one occasion but perhaps not frequently. My overheard conversations from the Americans were telling, “We went to Windsor today,” and perhaps the most important part of this is the fact that I do not feel myself a tourist in my town. I bristle at the American accents a bit, especially when the holders feel the need to pontificate on the royals. It’s a phenomenon that I never saw coming, my needing to fit in gaged against the American tourists visiting. I want to dissociate myself from them regardless of our shared accent. I see now why some of my fellow expats have adopted a middle-of-the-road accent. I have no idea how conscious this decision was, but it is certainly true that my American friends in the UK sound intermediate. I wonder how I sound now too. I had been convinced that any perceived accent I had acquired (supposedly) was the view of my family and friends back home, but now I wonder if I’m actually changing the way I deal with language, and in the accent and not just the word choice (as I have previously claimed). Have I actually started to change my vowels to fit with the local accent? Only those around me can tell. But how do I perceive such a change in myself? Only time will tell. I’m starting to suspect that my defense of “word choice only has changed” is falling on deaf ears and for good reason.

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3 responses to “Just an ordinary day

  1. Are you really developing a British accent? šŸ™‚ Do other American expats usually do that? I don’t really know any other Americans here. I’ve kept my California accent after 2.5 years.

    • I would say that a decent fraction of the Americans who have been here for more than 5 years have adopted some changes in their vowels in addition to changes in word choice, although it’s hard to tell if it’s because they meant it or not…

  2. This is interesting – my husband and I debate this often because he says the way I ask questions has become very “British.” Not necessarily an accent, but just certain phrases and ways of saying things that I did not do before…..I think it’s part of the inevitable after living somewhere for a while among the locals….

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