Beki Grinter

You have a nice accent

In European Union on October 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm

What do you do when someone says “You have such a nice accent”?  People say this to me fairly frequently.  It’s not actually a great accent, to the English I used to sound like I was from Norfolk (ask an English person why that’s a problem/hilariously funny).  Then I moved to the United States, and now to the English I sound like someone who is in need of serious help.  For many, I am not in fact English sounding anymore. If you think I’m kidding then perhaps the following will help explain:

  • I have been offered tours of the town where I lived and attended school.
  • I’ve been helped with the currency. A particular favourite of mine was when a lady showed me a pound coin and explained that England used to have notes (I remember and have a note) and that the switch to coins was a travesty (i remember thinking that too) but at least not as bad as joining the Euro (a point on which we disagreed)
  • I’ve had people argue with my husband, who is American, that I am not American – “no, surely she’s american too” (as if I wasn’t actually there)

But, here in the U.S. I seem to still sound English and all the wonderful things that come with that including having complete strangers tell me what a lovely accent I have.  Which leads me back to the question.  What’s the right answer?  Thank you.  (Short, polite, but somehow not a full response).  “Thank you, oh, yours is delightful too” (possibly, possibly not — although it does have the feeling of appropriate reciprocity).  Lately I’ve been experimenting with the “I grew it myself” response to my accent.  That gets some seriously weird looks.


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