Have you ever tried to ask your smart phone to give you directions or any other random question, only to have it not understand you ?
It happens to me all the time. For example yesterday I asked for directions to a restaurant I was going to, but it kept trying to take me to California. (I would love to drive across the country, but yesterday was not the day) So let me try again, Siri, directions to …. and once again Siri insists I go to California.
There are times I say Virginia and Siri hears it as Vagina. The things it says to me are nothing close to what I said. Sometimes I find it quite entertaining and other times frustrating. Being misunderstood seems to be the story of my life and most often not because I did not make sense, but because of my accent or just maybe its my sarcasm.
There have been a few people (I stress on few) who have told me that they cannot understand me because of my accent, (I blame it on their hearing) then again there are others who have called it cute and sexy….I think I am leaning towards cute and sexy. I rarely ever think too much about my accent, it is part of me, until and unless someone tells me they don’t understand me, which at that time makes me sensitive and sometimes even embarrassed about the fact that I sound different. But I am trying to embrace it instead and learn not to care, but it is a point of contention for me sometimes.
I do admit there are so many things that I say differently and there are times I have to pause for a minute to think of it the American way. Cookie vs biscuit, petrol vs gas, boot vs trunk, cheque vs check, car park vs parking lot and of course loo vs restroom, and on and on it goes.
I was recently telling a wise man about it and he suggested I listen to the song ‘Short People by Randy Newman’. Then he went on to write this in his column for the newspaper he works for.
I have a friend who didn’t grow up in the U.S., though she is a citizen, and because of that has an accent. She’s perfectly understandable, she just has an accent. For the record, she grew up in Sri Lanka.
She writes a blog and yesterday she sent me a text telling me she was thinking about writing a post about being embarrassed when people say they can’t understand her because of her accent, which I find odd because I don’t struggle to understand her at all. To a degree, I found it disheartening because she is a strong person and I was surprised she felt so vulnerable about it, and we exchanged several texts about the situation.
Today I checked in with her to see how she was feeling, and we texted about narrow-minded people. I told her to listen to Randy Newman’s “Short People.” And then I promptly went and listened to it.
A few days ago while I was at the coffee shop, a customer struck up a conversation with me. As he and I talked I realized how sexy an accent could be. Listening to him speak English with his German accent, made me understand that at the end we all have our uniqueness to how we speak and how we sound, but yet we could have an interesting conversation despite that.
During our 3 hour conversation, we did talk about accents as well and he said he could understand me and that I spoke really well, that is probably because he was interested in what I had to say and was listening to me.
So to those who don’t understand me or chose not to listen to what I am saying, go listen to ‘short people, by Randy Newman’.
As for Siri, oh well, maybe sometime soon I will use those directions for a drive across the country, but for now, I suppose smart phone is not that really smart is it ?
After all accents are in the ears of the beholder ! Biscuit anyone…oops I mean cookie ?