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Sunday, June 24, 2012

The accents have it

I have noticed that the majority of shows dealing with advise and overhauls (for example Tabitha’s Salon Takeover, Super Nanny and Kitchen Nightmares) are all hosted by people with accents other than American. In my opinion, we Americans are very tolerant of criticisms if these words are flavored with an accent. Could it be that we are mesmerized by the foreign twist of phrases? That these hard truths are easier to take in when someone overseas is making the observations? Or is it that their foreign accents are so fascinating that we really don’t hear what they are saying? We love the fact that they are rolling their R’s, all the while ignoring that the words they are hurling at us are” r-r-raging ignor-r-r-amous??”
I am basing this opinion on my own experience. Here in Idaho, I completely blend in with my California accent. However, when I was 14 and visited my family in Scotland, I was a rock star! When I was out shopping with my cousins, the minute I opened my mouth, everyone in the store stopped what they were doing and stared at me. True story—children followed me around the store as I chatted with my cousins. When I stopped short to look at a price tag on a blouse, they practically ran into me.
At the time, I was just having normal conversations. However, I believe if I was doling out advice, I would have had a captive audience. If I had turned around and said to these children some endearing term like “Hey, you rug rats, you better take care of your teeth or you’ll be sorry! Oh, by the way, surf’s up!” they would have scampered off to immediately brush their teeth. No matter that their mothers had been nagging them all their lives, the fact that the American girl told them to made all the difference.  
Then again, they may have just stared transfixed with pie pan eyes at me, waiting for my next friendly insult.

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