I just got off the phone with my good friend and fellow green card holder, Neville L’Green. We have both been living and working here in the US for over 20 years a piece. We may not talk for months at a time, but with so much shared history, of making music on stage, in the studio, in some squalid jazz bar in Verona… we quickly fall into a familiar pattern of chatting, of interrupting each other’s patter… or finishing each other’s sentences. We could have talked on and on about nothing important for hours. Fortunately one of us had a gig to go (not saying which one) and so we could say our good-byes at 40 minutes tops.
Nev is a dear friend. It was he who penned my name The Falsonator… and in return he was given the moniker, The Nevelator… which is quite apt… as Nev is that rare breed of musician who is always on time, he will have learnt all the tunes before the gig and will arrive with a mindset to do anything to help me or another member of the band.
The thing is, when we speak to one another… we both sound normal to each other (as normal as one of us could ever be)… while everyone around us think we have an accent… a strange one at that.
To our friends and family in Australia we have a bit of an American Twang… which for a few southern cross flag wavers is the worst kind of sin, as if we have sold our souls to the red, white and blue. It’s difficult for some to fathom that, after living here for 25 years we wouldn’t have picked up some of the local dialect. But if you want to be understood, whether at the check out counter, the gas station or any other place that involves a conversation with a human being, you have to replace lollies with candy, boot with trunk, spanner with wrench, leave a gap between each word in a sentence and, try ever so hard to add that unused letter of R now and then at the end of words that… have an R.
Our respective neighbors our friends and co-workers (Nev is in NY, I am in LA)… only hear the Aussie accent.
I say Aussie… but more often than not, people here think we are English… God forbid.
At the more common places of work for us; studios, workshops or stage… the accent thing rarely comes up… so much so that we forget that we have one.
But just about every time we are being served in a diner, restaurant or bar, the waitress or server will say, “Oh honey, I just love your accent, where ‘you from?”
At first I used to give the ever smiling server a straight answer, that I was Australian… ‘yes that’s right, the home of Fosters and Crocodile Dundee.’ But after the hundredth time I stopped with the simple answer to say “I love your accent too… where are you from?”… because I could hear that they were from somewhere too. In fact just about everyone in LA is from some place else… originally.
And you know… most people are taken back. Cause they don’t have an accent do they? In their minds it’s only foreigners like us who speak funny?
So… just so you know… no matter where you are in the world today… I guarantee… someone close by thinks you have an accent. You(s) have a way of speaking that, to some… just sounds funny. Even to me…
Have a Nice Day Ya’ll!