I generally have strong political opinions, but on the issue of independence for Scotland, I am officially neutral…except in one area.
I love, love, LOVE to hear the Scots talk about Independence. Or the weather. Or anything, really. That accent makes me SWOON.
I really can’t tell you WHY Scottish accents thrill me to my core–I mean thrrrrrrill me. Part of it’s that rrrrromantic rolled R, for surrrrre. Then there’s that pure “u” sound: puuuuuure. Or pewre? It’s practically unspellable. But it sure puts a spell on me.
The vowels are fun too. In the mid-90s, my family spent most of a year living in southern New Zealand–specifically, the town of Dunedin. If I tell you that “Dun” means “town” in old Scots, you will understand that Dunedin is another way of saying Edinburgh. In other words, southern NZ was settled heavily (in both senses of the word) by Scots, and they left their mark on the accent there.
I came to think of it as the Great Vowel Shift. Short “i”s became “uh”s: fish ‘n’ chips became fush ‘n’ chups. Short “e”s became short “i”s, so the grocery chain Big Fresh was Bug Frish. When the PA system at the airport called passengers to the gate for “chicken formalities,” it took us a minute to realize…oh. Right. Check in. (We still get a giggle from that.)
Then there was the time our son Mac (short for McKenzie) came home excitedly from First Form to tell us, “There’s another Mac in my class!” Later we learned the boy in question was actually named Mark. While in school, our son went by “Meck,” or, more formally, “MecKINzaye.”
Could there be a blog post about a more trivial subject? I don’t care. I find accents fascinating. Even more fascinating: what makes certain accents appeal to certain people. Ready to join in? OK, I’ll start. Here are my top ten favorite accents in which to hear English:
1. Scots (Do they really speak that way ALL the time, amongst themselves? Or is it some kind of elaborate hoax they perpetrate on the rest of the world?)
2. Russian (ever seen A Fish Called Wanda? I don’t even need to hear Russian; a Russian speaking English does it for me.)
3. Italian (OK, that’s a gimme–who doesn’t have Italian in their top 3?)
4. Welsh–ooh, gotta think about that one, eh? Hint: Welsh speakers always sound as though they’re asking a question?
5. Spanish (even fakey Spanish: “Allo. My name ees Inigo Montoya. You keel my father. Prepare to die.”)
6. Aussie/Kiwi (there IS a difference, and Kiwis get annoyed if you call ’em Aussies)
7. Londonite (but NOT fakey Londonite–“Oi, guv’nor!” drives me up a tree)
8. Jamaican–wait a minute, this should go WAY higher up on my list…but I’m too lazy to start my list over, mon
9. Downeast Mainer
Your turn. What are your favorite accents, and why? Oh, and if you’re Scottish–don’t forget to vote! Guuuud luck on that!