Friday, May 9, 2008


Being a foreigner in this country has led to accusations by others that I have an "accent" . I imagine I do, but obviously I can't hear it.

The city I live in has a lot of foreign inhabitants, many of whom have far more impenetrable accents than me. They usually know it though, and slow down. I am famous as the only person several families that originate from Glasgow will talk to in the shop because I can understand them (Glaswegian father).

The West country folks come to me because I don't laugh at their accent , and in fact can speak the lingo ( I'm Cornish/ Devonian).

The Italians and Greeks rattle on and we get there in the end, and the Chinese usually bring a small child to translate...another story.

The point is most of us with unusual accents realise we have them and make adjustments, which leads me to my experience today.

I had to do a label for a lady who wanted some strong pain killers. " What name is that for?" I enquired.

" Peterson"

"Ah ha!" I think, there are so many ways of spelling that , I will check. " How do you spell that? "

" P- E- T-T"

I typed P-E-T-T.... "NO"...she said..." P-E-T-"

I looked at my screen and showed her, PETT, " NO," she said "P-E-T-T"....she gave me an "are you stupid?" look. ( I was a little uncomfortable, this is a look I use, not one I get..)

Very slowly she repeated, "P-E-T-"

I sat looking at my screen dumbfounded, I had typed P-E-T. I sat and stared at her. What did she mean? What was she trying to tell me?

By now she was getting annoyed, slowly she repeated herself yet again, "P-E-T"

"But, that's what I've put. " I said.

"Can you not spell? are you deaf?" she shouted " E...E...E for epple",

This will mean nothing to some-one who isn't familiar with the Kiwi habit of using the wrong vowel in words, such as "fesh und chops" for fish and chips and "sex-pock" for a six pack.

For those familiar with the accent imagine my dismay and embarrassment, but I have to say she must have had the problem before, it was a very thick accent ( unlike mine?)

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