Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Kind Of Lingua Franca

“Now I want to know where this terrible American accent is coming from.  You didn’t have it before, then yesterday it was all CON-NOR instead of Conner and just then you said  O'NEEAELE instead of O'Neil.  It’s since you came back from holidays”.

The complainant is SN, my extremely effeminate, extremely plummy and extremely Anglophiliac boss.  His father had been knighted for services to the upmarket department store Georges, and as a six-year-old he threw a tantrum because he really, REALLY wanted to go to Paris… and then he got to go.  And of course, his family often ‘had the help in’ to assist in running their sizeable Toorak household. 

SN and I have a few things in common.  I, too had been to Paris as a child; just not the interesting bits like the Black Dog heavy metal bar where Gieger showed his work.  My family only did the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and you know… the usual.  I, too was used to ‘having the help in’ (we had maids) and still have fits of unreasonable ‘it’s-not-fair’ tainted fury when the house is in a mess created by myself, with only myself to clean (and blame).

But unlike SN, my childhood was rich with wonder of  McGuyver, Dallas and Magnum P-I.  Sure, I could 'do' the tones of Miss Marple, the entire cast of Trainspotting and Monty Python; mainly because I went to an international school full of grumpy expat children.  However, my voice, my truest, dearest and most comfortable voice is Michelle Gellar a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I may not look like a California blonde, but in my heart of hearts I am in a GM convertible, wind and Sun-In in my hair, on my way to an audition for the next CIS:New Orleans/Florida/Hoboken.  

So I do posess an ever-changing, somewhat schizophrenic voice.  When angry I go Proper British, and due to where I grew up I can do a reasonable Manglish/Singlish.  And please let's not discuss the time I stayed with my Hindi best friend in high school for Job Week.  Exorcising those high pitches and Bollywood head movements from a teenage girl makes Linda Blair's efforts look easy.
And yes, I recently had been on holiday visiting relatives, in a country where English spoken well is spoken in Default American.
But funny things happen when children stay up late with their mothers watching Dynasty.


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