Monday, 5 February 2007

No point Russian

It is my opinion, supported by clinical tests conducted across the northern hemisphere, that persons who seem to hail from foreign climes get better street directions than persons who sound like feckless locals. As one soon to don her pith helmet and start scything through the jungles of exotic Melborneo, I want to be able to sound like the ignorant new-comer I am, rather than a fifth-generation St-Kildarite who happens not to know how to buy tram tickets. To this end, I have recently been revisiting my accent repertoire, trying to decide between Glaswegian, Wessex, Bavarian and Russian.

It takes the better part of half an hour to stroll from the Leichhardt Ladies' Hostel to l'office, and I'm in the habit of using that time to flex the old larynx and natter away to an invariably delightful imaginary interlocutor. Today I was speaking to my imaginary interlocutor in a Russian accent. Just as I had intoned, quite loudly, "Hallo, my name is Vlasta. I would like you for to show me where is seller of tram tickets please", I heard a crunch behind me, and realised that my imaginary interlocutor and I were not alone. Indeed, we were sharing the footpath with a debonair young gent looking more groomed than Sophia Loren's eyebrows. He favoured me with a wary smirk and promptly crossed to the other side of the street.

Something I said? Surely not!

17 comments:

St John Nottlesby said...

Nein! It vass nussink you said. Ze people hoo do not ze akkzents try on from time to time are ze less-inneressink people. No?

blue_haired_jennifer said...

One of the downsides to being such an utterly multicultural country is the fact that one's definition of 'foreign climes' varies according to one's audience.

Viz: a friend of mine adopted an excellent Russian accent in order to obtain directions to a theatre. However, the first person she asked happened to hail originally from Russia, and kindly began to explain things to her in his native language. She, of course, could understand nothing, and ran away.

Unfortunately I am finding that my Australian accent awakens cricket-inspired glares in Britishers; I am therefore sounding vaguely Irish whenever required.

alexis said...

Ha! Cricket-inspired glares! I don't know why they bother. I was ever so delighted to learn that the Arts Council in England commissioned a poet to accompany the team during the Ashes. And there we were thinking there weren't any jobs for arts graduates.

alexis said...

Ah, Herr Nottleshoffer, du bist practically indistinguishable from ein genuine Tcherman.

Anonymous said...

Actually, if you opt for the Russian accent, everyone will assume you ARE a St Kildarite . . .

Anonymous said...

Hi Alexis,

I stumbled upon your blog while procrastinating. I don't know if you remember me well, but we taught a British Romanticism course together a few years ago. In any case, your witty observations gave me some much needed laughter during my procrastinations, so cheers.

Hope you're well and good luck with the move,
Karen

St John Nottlesby said...

Ach Doktorlein, danke schoen, recht schoenen dank of ze highest ordure! I haff zese many nights verked on mein akkzent fur ze vinning of the madchens. Und, ja, I haff ein maedel hoo kann sehr gut Deutsch sprechen!

Wunderbar!

alexis said...

But of course I remember you, Karen! How ya doin'? I'm really touched that your procrastinations should have brought you here. Obviously it was meant to be. Are you still hanging out with Mr Ruskin?

alexis said...

St John, I have the greatest confidence that your amour will go from strength to strength. The language that gives us the word "Feuerversicherungpolitik" is clearly the language of love.

St John Nottlesby said...

Yes, well, quite so, Doctor. The only catch is that one has to change the pillowcases thrice-nightly if one endeavours to speak "Schlafzimmer Deutsch". Dashed inconvenient, eh?

alexis said...

Hence that finest of Prussian inventions, the plastic pillow underslip. A trifle crinkly when one moves one's head about, but undoubtedly saliva retardant.

Karen said...

Well, I'm touched that you remember me! This is indeed one of the finest blogs for procrastination I have encountered so far. I was hanging with Mr Pater today and the day before that it was Mr Carlyle, but I've stopped hanging with Mr Carlyle now, because he sends you quite potty.
Yes, I still have a terrible crush on Ruskin.

alexis said...

Mr Pater, you say? Old Walter Horatio? Can't say I really go in for all this hard gemlike flame business. (But I think I'm a bit of a utilitarian at heart, which suggests a fundamental incompatibility twixt W.P. and me.)

Karen said...

Yep, old Walter Horatio. I put Walter in a completely new set of clothes with only a button or two retained and today I sent him off to make representations on my behalf to potential publisher number one (whom I will not name because then it will never come true). I feel a tremendous sense of achievement and may even have two different kinds of tea to celebrate.
Definitely no utilitarian here!

alexis said...

By golly! And this is despite the procrastinatogenic function of my blog. I'm very proud o' you. Let me know how it goes.

Karen said...

Thank you for being proud, but it's probably not justified (she says darkly, prefering the security blanket of great pessimism).

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