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The Aussie Accent in America:

 

One thing that has changed is that most Americans now recognize our accent

as Australian.  I remember when we lived in North America in the 70s they would

usually think we were English when they heard us speak.  Some still do ask if we’re

British, but it has certainly come a long way.  We even met some Brits

in Tennessee who remarked that they were sometime mistaken for Australians!

 

That old story common in the 60s where Americans would supposedly confuse

Australia with Austria, and compliment us on our English, seems to have died out.

 

We think Steve Irwin has a lot to do with this, and probably Paul Hogan before him.

‘The Crocodile Hunter’ is absolutely huge here in the States, and he’s always on TV.

We even watched him dubbed into French in Montreal.

 

We find they generally understand us OK, although it seems a little harder sometimes

on the phone than it is in person.   It helps to speak slower, as to them it seems we

speak very fast.  Also remember that the Aussie ‘a’ sounds like ‘i’ to them (e.g. when

we say ‘today’ they hear it as ‘to die’).  Also our ‘e’ sometime sounds to them like ‘a’.

Especially when on the phone, you need to speak slowly and clearly when spelling out a

name or a credit card number, for example.   Another thing is double letters.  If your

name was Williams, you wouldn’t spell it out with a ‘double-L’, you’d say ‘l, l’. They get

really confused with that – they think you’re making up a strange new letter!

 

Some words sound particularly strange to the American ear when Aussies pronounce

them.  One of the best known is the drink Coca-Cola.  If we ask for a Coke, they hear

it as something like ‘co-ak’ or even ‘cock’!

 

We've been away long enough that the Aussie accent sounds just a little funny when

you hear it - as in when I called the credit union's automated phone teller to check our

account balance.  I remember the same from our year in Montreal in 1977. The only

Aussie accents we heard there, apart from our family, was when they covered the Granville

Train Disaster on Canadian TV.  We couldn’t believe how broad the accent sounded.

We mentioned Steve Irwin earlier, towards the end of our trip his accent sounds totally

over the top -  then again he is playing the ‘professional Australian’, a bit like Paul

Hogan did.

 

 

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