Apparently I have an accent. Well, technically everybody has an accent, but evidently I do not sound like my native tongue. At least, periodically I don’t.
I cannot count the number of times I’ve been asked:
- “Where are you from originally?”
- “Excuse me, I just have to ask, what’s your accent?”
- “You’re not from here are you?”
- “Are you from the East Coast?”
- “Are you from Canada?”
- “Are you from (insert random state here)?”
- Or my personal favorite (please read with a gangster vocal inflection to get the true effect), “Hey, where you from?!”
And every time my answer is a very simple:
- “I’m from here.”
At which point, they give me a look of pure shock with a touch of skepticism. I’ve gotten quite skillful at handling strangers confusion by giving an elevator speech about how my entire family is from Minnesota and I go to Canada often – so I have fun hybrid accent.
All of which is true, however, most my family has lost their accent with the exception of their O’s since they moved to the Pacific Northwest. And I slip in and out of the Canadian accent depending on how tired/excited I am and how many O’s are in the words I am trying to speak. So basically, it’s my O’s that give me away. And while geographic location may influence my accent, it’s not what I attribute my apparent unique speech to.
Cause you see, my oldest brother also gets asked where he’s from all the time, but no one else in the family does. And the only thing that would connect us in a different way than the rest of the family, is that we both went on a mission trip with Teen Missions International (TMI – mission trip, abbreviated to TMI? There’s a childish joke in there somewhere) when we were each fifteen.
TMI sends out hundreds of young teenagers every summer to spread the word of Jesus, build buildings that probably aren’t structurally sound, and have something nice to put on their resume. These teenagers come from all over North America and are sent around the world. So for a solid three months I was surrounded by roughly six different accents. Naturally, the way I spoke began to shift, and the same can be said for my brother.
So that’s why I talk different – apparently.
I think I sound just as Washingtonian as everyone else around here, well, until I suddenly sound Canadian.