Problems With Having an American Accent in Australia That I Never Noticed in England:

  • I regularly get twice as much hamburger from the butcher as I request. Seriously. You see, we Yanks pronounce “have” and “half” almost identically. The vowel sound – at least in my Midwestern experience – is the same. Australians, though, pronounce that second word more like “hoff”. So when I approach Dobsy, our local butcher, and say, “Can I have half a kilo of mince, please?” he inevitably gives me a full kilo. It’s like he thinks I’m an idiot and I’ve repeated the “have” twice, because he doesn’t hear the “hoff.” After the first couple times I finally figured out why, but I feel like an idiot over-enunciating and saying, “Could I HAAAV HOFFFF a kilo…” So now I just get the big bags and split them up when I get home.
  • Everyone thinks I’m Canadian. Well, they don’t actually. It’s just that everyone assumes you are because apparently Canadian backpackers get way annoyed when you assume they’re American. So Aussies always start off by asking if you’re Canadian. Which is fine, but it’s getting to the point where it annoys me. Why Canadian backpackers have to be so sensitive, I have no idea.
  • Whenever I ask a shopkeeper for something they don’t carry, they think I’m making it up. Exhibit A: the spaghetti squash. When the Snook and I gave up pasta, I thought this would be a great replacement. The only problem is that not a single greengrocer I talked to had ever heard of the damn thing. They’re all like, “It’s like a pumpkin? And you eat it like pasta?” You’d think I was describing some strange Narnian vegetable. I finally gave up on that one. Exhibit B: Since I’m trying to cut down on the beer consumption, I’ve been drinking more cocktails. I saw an ad for Absolut Vanilla recently and I thought, “Man, that sounds good! Mix it up with a little Diet Coke and you’ve got a Vanilla Diet Coke With Kick!” Unfortunately none of the liquor stores in Newtown carry it. Which is fine, except for the fact that the guy at the last one was like, “Are you sure it exists?” Me: “Yeah, I saw it advertised in a magazine.” Him: “In Australia??” Me: “YEAH, IN AUSTRALIA. I’VE BEEN LIVING HERE FOR ALMOST TWO BLOODY YEARS, YOU TOOL!” Maybe I’m the one that’s getting oversensitive.
  • Some people are just mean. The old lady at the laundrette was asking me about my holiday recently (since we had so much clothing to wash) and asked where I was from. After assuring her that, no, I wasn’t from Canada, she asked how long I’d been in Australia. “A year and a half!” I proudly announced. She turned and sniffed, “Haven’t really lost the accent yet, have you, love?” Beeyotch.

I’m sure I’ll think of more.

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  1. the canadian thing is so true, kris. when i first became friendly with my now-excellent friend mel i insulted her by asking her if she was canadian. she esponded no, a bit touchily. but i had only asked that way first because so many canadians had gotten so antsy with me for asking if they were american!

  2. I’m in the opposite situation – an Aussie in the US. Weird things happen here too. People immediately ask, ‘You’re from Sydney, do you know John Smith?’. And 95% of people think I’m from England….

    The thing that kills me though is occasional different terms – I’m talking normally and then one word makes no sense to my listeners or vice versa.

  3. That gets me too, Ben. The other day I was driving home from work with my friend in the rain and I made some joke about hydroplaning. He was like, “What?” I guess here you call it aquagliding or aquaplaning.

    I thought the Snook was British when i first met him. We Yanks only hear Steve Irwin-type accents, so unless you’re really ocker we won’t pick up on it. As far as we’re concerned, everybody that says “to-mah-to” is from Ol’ Blighty. 🙂

  4. People always think I’m Irish. You’ve met me Kris, do I sound even a little Irish?

  5. It’s funny how those little word differences can completely confuse. When I was on the British ship, someone told me that we’d be sailing around an island “auntie.” I had to ask at least 3 times for her to repeat that because it didn’t make sense to me. She thought I was an idiot not to understand that we’d be traveling around the island anti-clockwise (something very counter-intuitive to those of us from the USA).

  6. Irish?? That’s nuts. Maybe Chicago-Irish, Amy, but only if we were back in the Midwest and you were drinking a Guinness. 🙂

  7. i’m pretty sure Regan will always have his american accent, no matter how long we live in australia – i think it’s cool! we have noticed, though, that alot of australians can’t understand him half the time and vice versa 😉 haha

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