Monday, November 9, 2009

To Do Lust

Because Taueret is an American transplanted in Australia, and I'm a Japanese transplanted in New Zealand by way of the USA, we make jokes about our accents and vocabulary; most often, she of mine. Which makes me sometimes aware of my changing accent; from the pure unadulterated Minnesotan, to the rather international one I picked up while working at the Asia/Pacific HQ of a multinational in Tokyo working with people from all over the region plus North America and which people couldn't quite place, to picking up a lot of NZ (often originating in Scotland) vocabulary.

I was very aware of this when I first arrived, and I used to write hilarious Christmas newsletters, but gradually I ceased to notice the new acquisitions and differences. 15 years on, I sometimes have to think hard if someone is speaking in a North American or English accent because in many ways I've become so used to the variety, never mind the Aussies.

But our vowels are distinct. In linguistic terms the position where the vowels are produced have rotated back in New Zealand, and I suspect forward in Australia. Most often quoted difference is our favorite meal "fish and chips"; in New Zealand it is closer to "fush and chups" whereas around Sydney it's almost "feesh and cheeps", and this is more evident in the younger generation. I once had a colleague nicknamed "Trix" who was sometimes called "rucks" which baffled me every time I heard her called that.

I seldom think I have a New Zealand accent, and automatically revert to what I still think is a Minnesotan in both accent and vocabulary, (people point that out to me often enough!), particularly when I am with Nancy (mostly Northern California but also UK and Australia for a long time) and Pat (California and New York). But lately I sometimes catch myself speaking like, well, a Kiwi.

Urgo the title of this post. This morning, I caught myself while taking to Ben what I needed to do today. And it's funny because it's not just my accent; it's my whole attitude to life.


  1. I was raised in NJ and S Fl. I have been told that I don't sound like anything no accent, but if I go to NYC I can sound like a New Yorker in less than 5 mins, drives my hubby bats. Another little thing that we speak is Spanlish and that always seems to amaze anyone within earshot. I can with other Spanish/English speakers carry on a full conversation alternating every few words and never miss a beat.

  2. We've been speaking English more and more at home now. I've always spoken English when I was mad, because I don't know appropriate "mad" words in Japanese due to my convent school upbringing... And weaving - I don't know weaving lingo in Japanese. But now Ben and do better in English particularly when there are hardware or power tools involved!


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