Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Where are you from?"

At Marylhurst we're in the third week of fall term, and so far I've been asked maybe five times "Where are you from?" Well, ok, so one guy asked "What's your native language?" (and he wasn't sure if I was joking when I told him that it's English) but that's just another way of approaching the same question.

Each time, the conversation went something like this:

Classmate: So where are you from?

Me: I'm from around here. If you're asking about the accent [I used to pause here but I'm so used to people responding "yes" that I just keep going now] it's actually a speech disorder.

Classmate: Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't realize that. I thought it was just a cool accent.

They usually apologize, as though noticing my speech disorder was somehow wrong of them.

Me: Yeah, that's what pretty much everyone thinks. Everyone has their peculiarities, and this just happens to be one of mine.

Classmate: I totally thought you were from Australia/England/New Zealand/some other cool place.

Different people think that my "accent" is from different parts of the globe. I've even had one person ask me if I was from the southern US states (which is actually where I was born, and where my parents are from!), whereas others have assured me that I have no hint of a southern accent at all. It's rather amusing.

Sometimes the conversation stops at this point, but sometimes I find myself explaining about FAS. Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) is when a person suffers a head injury and then abruptly develops an accent. I haven't been diagnosed, but I'm pretty sure that's what my speech disorder is...though in my case the injury would have happened when I was about a year old, when my language was just beginning to develop. So I'm not sure if FAS could be diagnosed in my case. Not that I've actually gone to doctors to ask about it. I don't think there would be any real point to getting a diagnosis, since there's nothing that could be done about it.

In any event, it keeps life interesting. How many people get mistaken for a foreigner in their hometown?


Jon said...

LOL I'd kill to be able to pull off a convincing accent. My fake English accent is pretty horrendous ;)
My Australian's slightly better, so maybe there's hope yet!

Sarita Rucker said...

And I pull off my accent without even trying! Not that I have any control over whether it's an Australian or English accent...different people hear different things when I speak!