Observant little ...

I don't understand the answer, but I may have some ideas on the question...


An anonymous commenter recently added this comment to this post:

I bet that OLS couldn't even tell the difference between an "American" and a "Canadian" accent, especially those derived from the West Coast. Preference in accents usually amounts to prefering (or being ambivalent about) certain groups of people.

No matter how you choose to dress it up, Seppo is a derogatory remark. Imagine Australians collective outrage if their nickname in the US was invented around 60 years ago and meant "full of shit" or the like. I can't imagine that you'd be too pleased.

Let's not kid ourselves. There is a lot of hateful prejudice against Americans in Australia. Certiainly more than there is for Aussies in the US. The loud and drunk thing for example. Do you really think that Aussies on the whole are a more sober, humble and quiet people? I've done too much traveling to ever believe that old chestnut.

Since this was such an old post, and since it gave me something to write about, I thought I'd comment by another post, rather than by adding a comment.

Firstly, the anonymous poster would have lost that bet. I'm guessing that they haven't been around here much, or they might have read about my talking about this sort of stuff before. I have been able to tell the difference between Canadian and American accents since I was 11yo. For me, the two are as different as a Dublin accent from a Belfast accent. True, Canadians are often amazed that I know they're not American (and can frequently tell what part of Canada they're from), since they find that people outside of America and Canada often can't tell the difference. A bit like Aussies and Kiwis I guess. We think the differences are obvious, but people from other nations often think we sound exactly the same.

As for my preference, it's not based on how I feel about Americans compared with Scottish, Irish or English people. As a general rule, I really like the American backpackers I've met on my travels and was close friends with a couple of the exchange students at Uni (as I mentioned in my original post). My preference is purely auditory - I don't like the sound of most American accents. I'm also not partial to German accents, but I happen to really like the German people I've met.

From my travels, I think most Aussies are referred to as "full of shit" by the Americans. *g* And it's not coated in rhyming slang (which, I may add, is an integral part of Aussie culture). And I like to think that it's usually part of a friendly ribbing. ;o) Even the most serious of Aussies back home seem to develop that larrakin quality when they travel. Like teaching fellow travellers phrases such as "I'm as dry as a dead dingo's donger". I certainly didn't come across any young Aussie travellers who were offended by it.

And I never said that "Aussies on the whole are a more sober, humble and quiet people". I believe that came from one of Kayla's comments and I personally don't agree with it. Americans in general do tend to have louder voices overall than any other nationality, but I think that Aussies take the cake for getting drunk and raucous, especially overseas, and especially in those Outback pubs you get all over the UK. Of course, that's not to say that I didn't meet a lot of quiet Americans and sober Australians as well. It's just that the majority is what you remember, not the exception.

I still wonder where there really is a lot of hateful prejudice against Americans in Australia. Just as I really do wonder about the questions in the second last paragraph of my post. I would never travel on the assumption that everyone loves Australians, and I'm a little surprised that American students would.

However, many American backpackers I've met, and many American blogs I read, have discussed the insular nature of many Americans in not being aware of much beyond the boundaries of their own country. My questions were not rhetorical, but quite honest. Are American uni students really so unaware of how their country is perceived by the rest of the world that they truly believe that "everyone loved Americans"? It just doesn't seem possible.

Listening to: some program on the ABC


Blogger Bliss said...

I had no illusions about it. Last time I traveled Europe, I had a big fat Canadian flag patch sewn to my suitcase. :)

I'm an American, and *I* find Americans overseas rather boorish. :)

No worries - ignore the commenter.

1:36 am  
Blogger SwissToni said...

not tell an american from a canadian? Get ooot of here, eh?


8:21 am  
Anonymous OLS said...

bliss - you're not the only American I've heard of using that trick. I thought of ignoring the commenter, but it was too much fun getting up on my soapbox. ;o)

ST - *lol* Exactly!


7:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't been here in a while, but anyhoo... Again, I think that the differences in the two accents (Can/ US) run more from east to west than between the two countries themselves.

The "oot" thing, which sounds much more to me like "oat" doesn't exist in the Western provinces of Canada. I can tell a Kiwi from an Aussie, but I can't tell someone from Oregon, Washington State or Northern California from someone from B.C. and I'd bet my left nugget that you can't either. It's more like the difference between a Leinster accent and a Connaught accent than Belfast/ Dublin. A Belfast accent sticks out like the dog's balls. I do think that this comes down to perceptions (or preconceived notions) about people, not speech. Studies have substantiated that claim, incidentally - although that doesn't explain the universal revulsion of "Brummie" when nobody seems to hold a grudge against them...

I'm not a patriotic guy. I've just lived and traveled a lot and know that there is a lot of ill-conceived prejudice out there. As far as "Bliss" is concerned, he/ she can sew that big Maple Leaf on and make the Canadians look like the arrogant fool that he/ she is.

I'd also like to state that there's no evidence that Americans are any louder than any of the other Anglophones/ or anyone else out there. If someone would care to give me something more than anecdotal evidence for that, I'd gladly give a mea culpa. Not that I don't find many Americans overseas boorish. There certainly are. I suspect that "Bliss" is the polar opposite kind of boorish (some pseudo-sophisticated, condescending yet sychophantic pseudo-intellectual) than a stereotypical loudmouth. Both are to be avoided, in my opinion, but one isn't any better or worse than the other.

Re being hated overseas, I just don't think that many American students think that they will be hated throughout the first world with the vigor that actually awaits tham. Aussies don't have any particularly good reason to hate Americans, yet a negative attitude toward people from the USA is pervasive. I've experienced it from complete strangers in Australia as well as having gradually become aware of the prejudices of my wife's family.

Incidentally, you're crazy if you think that a great many Aussies don't travel with the expectation that people love them overseas.

5:38 am  

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