Patt Morrison and I seem to have the same desire – to have a cool accent. For different reasons, though – she’d like one for the political power it apparently accompanies:
JUST YOUR AVERAGE day in cognitive-dissonance L.A., driving around town with the radio on: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Syrian accent comes at me like rubber bullets. A few lilting words from Beverly Hills’ new Iranian-born mayor. A staccato sound bite from a Vietnamese-born candidate for Orange County supervisor. A swirl of Greco-English vowels from Arianna Huffington.
And at a stoplight near the 405 Freeway, nailed to a telephone pole, there’s a sign telling me that I can reduce my accent by calling three-one-oh ‚Ä¶.
Reduce my accent? Heck, I want to know where I can get one ‚Äî my political future would be guaranteed.
Me? Some of my favorite TV shows feature strong and intimidating women with accents. But there are more parallels between NCIS’ Ziva David and Heroes’ Hana Gitelman – both are Jewish, both can kick some major butt, both are sexy as hell and both have four-letter names. Go figure.
I do know non-fiction people with cool accents – like my friend Iliki. Iliki’s first language is Indonesian, and while I’ve noticed some East Asian natives with twangy, hard-on-the-ear accents, I think the difference is between the speaker actually knowing English and still learning it.
Anyway. I hate meeting people from other parts of the country – they always seem to have cool accents, while I have none whatsoever. They always say I have a California accent – which I guess means I say “dude” and “cool” a lot. (And I do – I admit it.) My favorite part of the story:
As someone with an intonation as flatly American as the Great Plains, I’ve got a case of accent envy. I yearn for a lilt in my language. Writer Rosecrans Baldwin has sagely argued that “a fake accent can be handy in a lot of cultural jams, especially since the entire world hates us right now.” Maybe I’ll try Canadian. Canadian should be easy. A smattering of “ehs?,” an “aboot” or two and a couple of NHL references could help me dodge any argument about the war in Iraq.
I can do my mom’s accent pretty spot on. But that’s an accent for occasional use, for when I want to make my coworkers or Trinity laugh. Ah well.