Very little, frankly. The reason for this can be summed up in the reaction of the very first person I met on my very first trip abroad. I was in a pub enjoying a pint of Guinness and smoking a cigar when the guy next to me made a comment that required my answering it. At the sound of my voice he seemed perplexed.
"You're a Yank?"
I assured him I was.
"You're awfully quiet for a Yank!"
Not only am I a man of few words, but I am soft spoken and possess an accent devoid of flat vowels, hard consonants and easily identifiable colloquialisms. I am, in short, hard to place.
I once spent three days of a five-day holiday with my companions believing I was Irish. So mostly, my accent goes unnoticed, which is fine by me. People pointing out that I am an American happens so infrequently that it never fails to take me by surprise. I don't believe for a minute that I can pass as a native but, having adopted the local style of speech even if not the accent, hearing me say something like, "I was up on the High Street yesterday and the offie put his prices up again; that's just not on!" in an accent that may or may not be American might prompt the listener to assume I came from Hampshire or Ipswich. People generally have to talk with me for a while before it occurs to them to ask if I'm a Colonial.
And never, not once, has anyone said, "I love your accent! Say something for me!" which happens to my wife on a routine basis when we visit the States.
I have also never had anyone try to imitate an American accent on my account, though there is a woman at work who "does" an American accent (it's sort of her party piece) and it never fails to crack me up. I'm sorry, but there is something inherently funny about a Brit speaking in an American accent.
On the other hand, I still love the accent here and enjoy traveling around the country and listening to regional variations. I never get tired of it; it must be something inherently American.
As I mentioned in the first post, strangers hearing me will often edge closer (just to be sure) and then engage me in conversation, usually to tell me not only that they love my accent/the UK, but where they have been or where their British ancestors came from.
I like to think that my friends don’t notice my accent, but the reality is that they obviously do because they imitate me from time to time, and I am always identified as “the British woman” to others. At school, I am quite often asked to speak in public when there are other parents who could just as easily do it. It might be that that kind of thing doesn’t scare me (unless it’s to the High schoolers), but the other parents often say it sounds “better” with my accent. I also have to slow down when I'm on the phone to Americans, or risk having to repeat every other sentence.
The only thing that really bugs me is complete strangers imitating me. It happens quite a lot in shops/ stores. Half way through a transaction, the sales assistant (usually young and male for some reason) will twig that I’m British, and switch to a weird combination of the Queen Mother and a Monty Python member. I never quite know how to react. Yes, they’re being funny, but would they imitate me if I had a Bangladeshi or Brazilian accent? I think not. I seem to be fair game but maybe I should chill a little. After all, they’re the ones who look ridiculous.
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22 hours ago