Quagmire of English Accents

One of the problems that I have encountered living in Britain is to comprehend the English accent. After settling down, the first problem was to deal with the phone calls in this accent. To my horror, I realised there is not one uniform accent but various accents- of Midland, of Yorkshire, of Scotland, of Wales, etc, etc… I was grappling with all of these, that I confronted a unique one- British Asian accent. It was very difficult initially to train my ears to understand it properly.
Then started the Big Brother with Shilpa Shetty and I identified absolutely the new one -Liverpoolian accent. To me, it rhymes and it is lyrical. Without understanding the sentences in the beginning, I enjoyed its swirls and tunes.
Whatever criticism Celebrity Big Brother might have invited, for me it was a programme to identify and pick up various accents-even the loudest Essex accent. I was happy to finally comprehend the puzzle of accents..
But my happiness only lasted until a friend's family with their five year old daughter visited me. She spoke only English and I was not able to understand her deep accented voice. I would take minutes before replying to her little queries. Suddenly I heard her saying to me- "I wan some wo..er". I looked at her blankly. To my embarrassment, she repeated- "I wan some wo..er." I was perplexed. Her mother intervened to explain that she wants some water.
The other day, when she visited, I was asking her parents what would they like to have- Tea, coffee or any cold drink? The little girl told me- "My pa wants no more tea". I looked at her parents with wonder in my eyes, and
turned to her father to confirm. He laughed and told me that his daughter is saying- "My pa wants normal tea."
It's a big hassle to deal with the little kid and the quagmire of her accent.
But living in Britain, has made me realise that it is difficult now a days to find people who speak Oxford English. One has to deal with hundreds of accents- all nationalities living here speak with their own accent, which is a mixture of their mother tongue and English- the sound, vowels, letters, words, all are mixed up.
Multiculturalism has wrapped up the language in its fold. I wonder which one I should pick up…

by Nandini

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