Tuesday, August 28, 2012

a new “solution” .... part III multiculturalism

In previous posts I’ve already gone on and on about integration

and about the stupidity of proposed changes to the constitution in relation to protecting various cultures

I think Gina Yashere says everything we need to know about multiculturalism.
Her country is full of people who look and speak differently from "the norm"... ain't it a larf?


part IV – it’s all a matter of perspective
part V – onshore, offshore, and other questions


  1. Funny stuff.

    I think the accent stuff and Americans is totally true...I can relate. I can't remember my first reaction of seeing black people with British accents. But I remember being surprised to hear Asians speaking in a British accent.

    I think Americans are raised to believe we're the only truly multicultural country; and every other country is homogenous.

    Or maybe we're not raised that way. Maybe I was just dumb.

    Although according to the comedy lady...I get the sense I wasn't alone in my ignorance.

    Americans (generalizing here) don't realize they have an accent. I finally realized it in college when a British guy did an imitation.

    I have lots of people coming to my blog with keyword searches about Portia Di Rossi's accent. Non-Americans will ask things like "Why doesn't Portia Di Rossi have an Australian accent." Most Americans doing the search will say "Why doesn't Portia Di Rossi have an accent?"

    Also....so true about the health care stuff.

    1. If the health care is that bad - or even just half as bad - then the next time I travel to the US I'm going to take out insurance in case my insurance company goes broke while I'm there. Unreal.

      As for the accents, most baby boomers here grew up listening to BBC comedies on the radio. Lots of them can pick which of the 4 million regions somebody comes from just by the accent. [Not me].
      We had an English English teacher at school. I made the mistake of saying something about an English accent, and she informed me that natives do not speak with an accent, they are speaking English - only non-English people speak with an accent. [Yeah, right!]

      Portia does not "have"[i.e. use] an English accent, because she lives and works in the US. For years, British and Australian movies were dubbed with American voice-overs. Luckily the world is becoming more cosmopolitan.
      Then again, maybe she is just like me - it takes me five minutes to lose my own voice and start talking like whoever is around me. One of my brothers used to tell me to stop taking the piss, because he didn't understand that I wasn't - I couldn't help it.

      I went to a private school. When I first started work I had to 'unposh' my voice and vocabulary, so people would talk to me. But even though I tend to slip into whatever accent I am surrounded by, sometimes the voice I hear inside my head escapes, and The Other takes the piss. It's cruel. She only has once accent, and a very broad Australian accent at that. When she tries to adopt a different accent it cracks me up. But when she meets British people she can usually guess what street of which town they grew up in. Why, her ear is so good she can tell Canadians from Americans. [Not me.]

      No, thinking America was the only multicultural country was not dumb; no insult but American culture [as presented in the media] is very insular. To outsiders like me [or at least some of us] we don't get the impression Americans think theirs is the only multicultural country, we get the impression Americans think theirs is the only country full stop.
      No. I don't really mean that. But as a youngster I was constantly told that America is a melting pot. That it is the first and last bastion of Babel, because 25 million people a year passed through Ellis Island and every single one spoke a different language.

      No. I only half mean that.

  2. No Americans know there are other countries. But they think we're the only free one...and the only multicultural one.

    I wish I was joking, but I'm not.

    Of course not everyone feels this way.

    I have the same accent issue as you.

    Also....me too. I can't tell Americans from Canadians. I also sometimes get confused between British and Australian. Some Aussie accents are obvious. Others are not.

    If I was a scientist I'd want to study people like us. Why do we slip into different accents?

    Is there a difference between people who do it accidentally and people who do it professionally? I mean people who have more control over it.

    I wonder if our brain looks different than other people.

    Can you do accents on demand? Are you good at that? Or does it usually happen on accident?

    I think Portia would have had an Australian accent.... ?????


    1. The whole brain thing is endlessly fascinating, especially now that we have scans showing activity in different areas of the brain in response to different scenarios. The trick, of course, would be trying to establish any kind of control group. And it’s evolving all the time.

      The most amazing doco I've ever seen on this - only 12 mins long - is at http://www.abc.net.au/tv/bigideas/stories/2012/05/14/3500824.htm if you can get it. It's worth a look just for the way it has been put together. [Let me know if you can’t get it – it downloads as an mp4 and I might be able to email it or something].

      Back to language: I can only guess that for different people different parts of the brain come into play in given situations. How much of our love of language and reading, for example, is what we are born with, and how much is nurtured by others, and how much by ourselves when using a particular "brain muscle" is rewarded in some way?

      As the world shrinks, and as people no longer spend their entire lives in one small village amongst their own accent group, accents are becoming increasingly homogenised. This is possibly also a change that comes with technological change. As a very young baby boomer I was born on the cusp of radio and television [in Oz at least] and so I never had any great social reward from being able to imitate the voices of various radio characters. I met an older woman once who spoke English with a very aristocratic accent, but she was born to wealthy people and raised in the ‘closed system’ of an outback station. New Zealand was settled by large numbers of Scots, so NZ vowel sounds are quite distinct. South Australia wasn’t settled as a convict colony, and so that accent is different from other Australian accents.

      Theoretically, American accents were heavily influenced by Irish pronunciation, but there is a difference from one part of Ireland to another, and the ratio of Irish to English settlers was different. Perhaps we find accents difficult to imitate properly because we were never exposed to any particular one for any length of time, but are aware of the differences because we are readers, or simply more interested than others.

      Perhaps the tendency to slip into another voice – even if not done well – means we are more sympathetic to others? Well, that’s a theory that appeals to me, so I might stick with it :)