Weekly Shocks' Blog



Well, bugger me sideways.

Here’s your “No shit, Sherlock!” fact o’ the day:

If you live in another country for three years, you’re bound to pick up some of that country’s charming, distinctive speaking patterns.

I didn’t fully realize this until I came back from England for my first long holiday. The British-isms kept popping out of my mouth like teeth from a hockey player. I said vaguely unacceptable things like ‘trousers’ for ‘pants,’ because ‘pants’ on my side of the metaphorical pond meant underoos. I said ‘queue’ for ‘line,’ because, let’s face it, the euphony of ‘queue’ is delicious. I said ‘cheers’ for everything, because, well, cheers. Why the heck not. Worse, my already somewhat pretentious northeastern American accent had warped ever-so-slightly into fake British. My family and friends just loved this. I had become one of THOSE Americans who bugger off to the motherland for a bit, then come home too good for their own accent.

Speaking of bugger, I love that bloody word. I do. If you haven’t poked around the archives here at Weekly Shocks (and if you actually haven’t done so, you’ve broken my heart), get busy and count how many times I use it. Then report back to me, because I’m too lazy to do it myself. But I’ll bet I use bugger, on average, at least once a post. It’s a great word, even if I didn’t know what it actually meant, in all its naughty glory, until long after it started making its sparkly guest appearances in my daily utterances.

(Oh, so you want to know what bugger means, too, do you? I could direct you to UrbanDictionary.com, but if I did, I’m afraid you wouldn’t come back, so I’ll summarize briefly: when a man and another man love each other very much, sometimes they turn the lights down low and engage in an activity Thomas Jefferson once decided was punishable by castration. I betcha UrbanDictionary doesn’t tell you that, now, does it? You’re welcome.)

It’s not just the British-isms that plague my speech, though, bugger it all to hell. I lived in Germany for a year before I ever saw England. Germans have a rather disconcerting-yet-quaint habit of speaking German instead of English (silly, isn’t it?), so I pulled a ‘when-in-Rome’ while I was there and I spoke German, too. For the most part, anyway. When I came back to the States, I discovered, with an appropriate mixture of amusement and terror, that I had forgotten large swaths of my native tongue, the language I had been babbling fairly comprehensively for nearly two decades. Giggle if you like, but just remember: it’s all fun and games until you find yourself tripping over your words like a 4am drunk, struggling to remember the English for ‘Bahnhof’ and ‘Löffel,’ and your parents subsequently suspect you’ve picked up a nasty little drug habit during your peripatetic year in Europe.

Now, this is just excellent fodder to write about in my epic blog of the ages, but the sad fact is that I’m going on professional job interviews and the good, kind, lovely folks who might read this blog so I better say nice things interview me inevitably pick up on my distinctive and uneven speech patterns. Not that I’m bellowing out ‘bugger’ and ‘schnitzel’ during interviews, mind you. But I have had a few folks ask where I grew up, then pause, obviously perplexed when I tell them, quite simply, Boston. People from Boston don’t sound like me. They sure as hell don’t sound like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting or JFK asking not what your country can do for you, etc., etc., either, but that’s not the point. I’m not famous and am therefore not allowed to sound as if I’ve been punched repeatedly in the mouth by a boxing midget on speed. (Now, there’s a fun image to contemplate, isn’t it?)  So sometimes I try and give the whole ‘I’ve-been-in-Europe-a-long-time’ speech, but really, that kind of makes me sound like a pretentious ass. The fact that I sort of am a pretentious ass doesn’t matter. “Pretentious ass” is not exactly high up on a potential employee’s list of desirable qualities, now, is it.

So! I’d really like my old accent back. I asked Oxford to return it months ago, and Oxford being Oxford laughed in my face, then sent a batshit crazy person dressed in a tutu and wielding a bow-saw after me. So we won’t ask Oxford for anything anymore. Safer that way. That leaves you kind folks: if any of you has a spare, normal accent lying around – really, any regional variety is just fine, as long as it’s consistent – please send it my way. We can discuss payment later, or not, because I’m broke, but maybe I’ll write a blog post thanking you. Then you’ll be famous. Sort of. Well, not really. But still. I’d appreciate it. Ask not what Weekly Shocks can do for you, damn it, but what you can do for Weekly Shocks.

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Comments

  1. * J. says:

    Don’t change your accent! It’s fun! I love people who say ‘bugger’ and ‘cheers’ (or, ‘cheers , you bugger!’, or any other combination). I have the weirdest patchwork accent in the world and people just assume I’m from Florida! 🙂

    Posted 8 years ago
  2. * A says:

    I giggled so many times throughout this post. I, too, find myself using British-isms and Japanese-ism due to living abroad in Japan with my British boyfriend. I gather with a proper amount of time living in the States, your Bostonian accent will bounce back and your old vocabulary will follow. That’s just what I’ve heard from others who have gone through similar situations. Everyone is different so good luck!

    Posted 6 years, 4 months ago


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