The Accent of an Expat

Have I ever mentioned that I’m from California? Well, I am. Not that you could tell from my accent. You see, after 13 years living in the UK, my accent has gone a bit ‘Madge’. Remember the 15 minutes that Madonna was married to Guy Ritchie and lived in London? And then she started speaking with a faux British accent? Wasn’t it annoying? Well, I kinda sound like her. *sob, sob*

Whenever I meet Americans and Canadians, they are surprised to find out that I’m American. This had been making my sad. Part of my identity is being American, and if I no longer sound American then there is not much left. But after my recent trip to The States, I felt renewed. I am American no matter what my accent sounds like. But I am more than that. Yes, I have changed. Yes, my accent has changed. But there is no need to be insecure about my accent. I am happy with who I am and what I sound like.

Have a look at the little vlog I’ve filmedΒ on the subject. And yes, besides being an expat, I’m a total dork! xx


Seychelles Mama

31 thoughts on “The Accent of an Expat

  1. My husband’s cousin moved from England to Newfoundland many years ago and almost immediately started speaking with a strong Canadian accent which suprised us. I asked her about it once and she said it was almost deliberate as none of her clients could understand her English accent! I think some people pick up the accent wherever they are – I certainly do – and others seem to keep their own accent forever. My cousin moved to London from the South Wales valleys at 21 and then moved to Northern Ireland at around 40 (18 years ago) and yet still has a really strong valleys accent! We are all different. πŸ™‚

  2. I know exactly what you mean! My American friends and family say I no longer sound American but my British friends say I totally do. Many people ask where I am from as they can’t place my accent. I just call it ‘transatlantic’! This is a great post πŸ™‚ PS I think you still have your CA accent πŸ™‚

  3. Expats develop their own accent, I think πŸ™‚ I’m Ukrainian, but being married to a Russian, I think, I lost much of my Ukrainian accent, while speaking Russian. As I learnt German in UK, I was told that I have an English accent when I speak German. And now that we live in Czech Republic, apparently I sound Bulgarian, when I speak Czech πŸ˜€

    1. OMG! I loved reading this. I am Bulgarian and people often struggle to place me based on my accent. Americans often think I sound British, British people are never fooled. πŸ™‚ I have studied several languages in my lifetime and my French tutor kept telling me that I have a Portuguese accent when speaking French. πŸ™‚ Crazy!

  4. Haha, I get a bit hung up about my accent too, or rather my total lack of one. I have a tendency to copy the accent of whoever I’m with most, and at best it’s “eccentric” after stints in Belgium, the UK, Japan (after which I sounded like a South African, apparently) and now Italy. It reflects who I am though: a complete mishmash of cultures πŸ™‚

  5. You are right you are still and American no matter what you sound like. I think even in the States if you move around you adopt the accent of wherever you are living for awhile. Thanks for sharing. #myexpatfamily

  6. Haha love this! I visited the States a while back, and caught the accent within 2 days!! Took me a while to get my British accent back! #myexpatfamily

  7. Haha, this is funny. But you are right an accent does not define who you are – although it can feel like it does. I’ve managed to keep my British accent over here in California, but only been here 3 and a half years. Have definitely picked up many American words and phrases though and I sometimes wonder if our little one gets confused – as we use such a mish mash of British and American words!

      1. He he – that would be funny! Though just realised reading this – have totally started using the word ‘totally’ alot – you haven’t lost that either I see! πŸ˜‰

  8. Oh my god you are so so adorable on that video!!!!!!
    I absolutely love love love this post! I know what you mean about feeling weird about losing your accent, it’s not happened here but when I lived in America I felt like within two minutes I sounded so ‘totally’ Californian and all my friends back in UK would make fun with how I unknowingly would switch between the two accents depending on who I spoke to!!!
    By the way I still think you sound American πŸ™‚
    I’m very excited that you shared the first video for my expat family, making the linky nice and trendy with a vlog haha!
    Thanks so much for sharing it, I loved it (I said that already but I really did!!!) xx

  9. I sympathise. I am Irish but grew up speaking with a mixed accent courtesy of Dutch mother, Irish Father and living in Norway. When I moved to the UK I needed speech therapy for a lisp in English (funnily enough never in Dutch) and I ended up speaking like a Radio 4 announcer. Because I grew up with a foreign mother my English was also terribly correct, no contractions or idiom etc. It has become much more natural since I met and lived with my husband! Nobody ever guesses where I come from!

    My husband is from the north but living with me and in the south of England for many years has made it more neutral. He uses a lot of idiom however and my in-laws laugh when I use northern vernacular with my own accent.

    Our kids have spent more than half their life abroad, our son now sounds like a cross between and English and Eastern European boy while our daughter has a somewhat midatlantic accent which I can never decide whether to ‘correct’ or not.

    Your accent sounds lovely – rather neutral English very much like my husband.

  10. Ha, I’m sure the accent comes back whenever you are back in California! I know my scottish accent comes back every time I’m home in Scotland… πŸ™‚

  11. Haha it’s not only England/American accents – don’t worry! After only two years of living in Korea I find that my speaking has changed – I enunciate certain sounds that I know are harder to understand for Korean English speakers and tend to talk much slower than I used to. It’s an adjustment to go back to the US and realize how differently I speak. I’m not surprised 13 years would change your accent! That’s ok – love it for what it is πŸ™‚

  12. Your accent just reflects your adventure. But I do understand how you feel it is part of your identity. I’m generally a chameleon when it comes to accents but I think I have clung onto my own accent pretty well. The Gibraltarian twang only ever comes through when I’m annoyed about something! #myexpatfamily

  13. Love this! I have stubbornly held on to my accent (not that’s it’s particularly strong) as it is very much part of me, or so I think… but really I’m just being stubborn! My friends here do imitate me every so often, and every one asks if I’m Irish (?!), so I clearly don’t sound American… The kids though, that’s a different story! Sorry for the exceptionally late comment from #myexpatfamily, One of those months!

  14. Oh I know what you mean–I’m from Pennsylvania/Ohio and at home they think I have a British accent, here they think I’m Canadian… and I’ve lost any idea of what word is English versus American: is it trash or rubbish? Trainers or sneakers? Courgette or a zucchini? I’ve gotten so confused!

    PS: I am also married to a Brit–we lived in Ohio for 13 years after a year in the UK, then moved to Kent nearly 4 years ago.

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