Friday, January 12, 2007

In The Line Of Fire: Inflicting My Bad Neurochemistry On Unsuspecting Tourists

Oh those poor, sweet, darling girls from England. I don't think they knew what hit them!

On the way home from work this evening, I was stopped by three young girls who I assume were visiting here. They were looking for a nightclub a mere couple of blocks away (from where we were and my workplace nonetheless) and yet, I could not manage to give them proper directions. I babbled on and on about what the club looked like and how it had several names for differents parts of it and the signs on it and how to sort of get there.

What on earth? I used to know my city like the back of hand, inside out, up and down, backwards and forwards. Conclusion? Meds make you stoopid. I can get lost in a teacup now. And nevermind that I could have provided ample landmarks that I walk past every day (like my own building!) That would have been far too easy.

And riddle me this? Why is it that whenever I meet someone with an accent (and always someone from the UK--England in particular) I start parroting them? I don't mean to. I've since learned through "sensitivity training" that this is completely unacceptable as you are "othering" people. That is to say, you are highlighting their differences and it can be perceived that you are being offensive.

But I don't mean to! It's just some strange thing that my brain does! And I have to put concerted effort toward stopping it and that is very hard to do when you are actually in the midst of trying to have an intelligent, cogent and sometimes rapid-fire conversation!

I used to be very good at dialects and all sorts of accents when I was a child. That's a great skill to hone should one want to pursue a career on the stage or in film. But I don't and didn't.

So apologies you girls, I hope you made you way to the bar and that I didn't sound like some bizarre hybrid Canuck-Londoner!

Addendum: Here's some information that sheds some light on the fact that nonconscious mimicry is entirely "normal!" Take a look.

5 comments:

Michelle said...

Oh my God!! I thought I was the only one that did the accent thing.

It is never intentional and I have to conciously fight it. When I lived in Tenessee for a few months was the worst. My father would pick me up from work and question me about when I had developed a southern accent.

It got to the point that I was scared to open my mouth because I figured that I sounded like I was either trying to make fun of them or I was screwing up the accent so bad that they were making fun of me.

Good to know that I am not the only one. :)

sisiphus said...

I'm not that great at mimicking people, but one of my brothers is. He does it so well that when he was at school he'd put on a stereotypical male gay voice (is there one in Canada...there used to be one in the good ol UK) and sound so good that his girlfriend's Mum, took her daughter aside one evening after he'd been there and told her that she might be dating the wrong guy!!!
Me and my brother both have many gay friends, we sometimes tease them just as they tease us...so don't take offence please. For goodness sake, I spent most of ny dancing years dating gay dancers. (Words, gal, think words here!)

Regards,
Sisiphus

Patient Anonymous said...

Hi michelle: You know,I was thinking that there must be some wacky reason...wait, here's something relatively decent I can post. Look: we're "normal!"

Actually, I can't fit the damn url properly into this stupid tiny comment box so I'll add the material as an addendum to the post. Sorry about that.

Although it doesn't go into the "accent thing" it does explain that nonconscious mimicry is a completely common phenomenon. I couldn't open in in Firefox (maybe just me) so if you're having problems anyone, try IE.

Yeah, sorry. Long url.

Hi Sis: That's funny. You could do a good Canadian (or American) flaming queen (and I don't mean Liz haha.) Look at good ol' Hugh, right? Not that he sounds gay, not my point but he does a great, shall we say, "North American" accent. A lot of times, many Canadians and Americans sound alike--much to traveling chagrin-- hence the many Maple Leaf Flags on backpacks (sorry people of the US, it's just the way it is, I swear!)

There are certain states within the US that have their own dialects and accents and there are even some slight variations across our provinces in Canada (with exception of the East Coast--they can be very distinct) but otherwise, across the country most are not that significant to the untrained ear.

As I mentioned on Michelle's blog, I have kind of joke where I dare people to offend me. You simply can't. I have a sense of humour that is well, perhaps beyond most people's comprehension. And it borders on the obscene. If anything, I'm more apt to get hurt if someone is mean to me but I can take a joke and enjoy it certainly if it's twisted, sick, tends toward black humour and/or is entirely inappropriate!

And dating gay people?! Don't sweat it! Sexuality is a lot more complicated than you think. Especially in the throes of bipolar and who knows what else may be going on in your life. When I came out in my early 20s did I stop sleeping with men? No. And I even had this weird couple of (mis)adventures with a "gay man." Or at least he said he was gay and so did I. We met in a gay men's bar. So just what on earth that all meant? Who knows?

I won't get all Kinsey on you as he's rather dated but thanks for your contribution and all of that, Alfred. But to coin his work (sort of), sexuality really is a spectrum--of sorts. You just have to figure out where you fit on it and be happy. And for some, it's not static and that's fine. Who cares? Big deal. As long as no one is getting hurt, it's nobody's business in the first place.

Okay, I think I'm done now haha.

Michelle said...

Thanks for the link update PA. It's always good to know that at least in one aspect that I am not as strange as I thought. :)

Patient Anonymous said...

Heh. Well, we're all "strange" but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing! At least in my opinion...

*wink*