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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Accent watch

In Somerset, people are not "old", they are "ode". Similarly, people are not "cold", but "code". What the 'ell is going on? Well, the "L" clearly *isn't* going on, apparently! (Do you see what I did there?)

I've heard (though not directly) that Bristolians will add an "L" sound to the end of various words where no "L" is in evidence. Maybe the people of Somerset are saving up all their "L"s and donating them to the Bristolians (they're only next door...), who clearly need all the "L"p they can get...

It reminds me somewhat of the French when they attempt to speak English. When pronouncing English words like "hospital" or "home", most of them willfully ignore the presence of any "h", let alone an aspirate one. Yet, when saying a word which has no h, like "own" or "old", they will suddenly acquire the ability to produce that small "huff" at the beginning of the word...

I once worked with a Spanish guy, who found it impossible to pronounce any word beginning with s + consonant without adding an "e" sound at the start. Thus, instead of saying "stainless steel", he would say: "estainless esteel". "Scaffolding" was pronounced "e-scaf-fold-ing" with the emphasis on "e" and "fold". He would also spout standard English phrases which he'd picked up from his East End and Essex colleagues, but said them with a thick, Spanish accent:

"To be hhhhhonest wid youuuu, at the end of the doooyyyyyy"

So amused was I by this, that I once attempted to covertly record him saying these things, so that my friends and I could ridicule him...

*reader butts in*

"Hang on, Witho, where are you going with all this?"

I suppose I'm just coming to realise how fascinated I am by language, accents and so on. I am a linguist. A good one (though not a cunning one, I leave that to (significant) others... well, someone was going to say it, weren't they?). I should be using these skills in my career, not letting them stagnate whilst I work as a secretary... not that I've anything against secretaries, I think they play a major role in quietly and modestly keeping many organisations afloat. But I need something different... I need to do my own "shit", not someone else's.

You see, I didn't get that job I was interviewed for, if you hadn't picked up on that from the previous post. It was a position as Office Administrator for a not-for-profit Educational Organisation. It sounded like an interesting job - essentially "running" a new regional office on the admin side, quite a niche-carving opportunity.

But, inevitably, I cocked up the interview. I "give good application", but the nerves always get the better of me at the interview stage and I can feel myself trembling, babbling and rushing my answers. At first, I was inconsolable when I was told I hadn't got the job. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I should be able to do "better" than that. By better, I mean I should have a profession, not just be in a supporting role. And this time, it should be something I'm passionate about...

I *need* to do something with languages this time around, and no, *not* programming languages!



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