Thursday, 24 February 2011

Live (prerecorded) Harlot! Uses actual syllables!

Nothing could induce me to misuse my employers' webcam facilities except the direst necessity. Recording this, for example.

Which I had to do because there are people, actual people, who want to know how I pronounce things. As in, words. And syllables. In fact, Kate O, who is one of the best internetians everrrrr, went so far as to write, "It would please me to NO END if you and [some other person – doesn't matter who] made an accent video!!" Two exclamation marks. That's her way of saying that if I don't expose y'all (her locution) to my pronunciation of the word "pecan" she will probably die of phonological curiosity. And I couldn't have that on my conscience.

So, here's the deal. People in on this global Anglophone accent game are required to:

1. disclose their regional identity (like, I live in la la Lalor, but I used to live in Preston, but my cats come from Coburg, and that's probably influenced my accent in certain indefinite ways);

2. record their pronunciation of Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater (that's "theatre" to you, Mr U.S. Originated Word List), Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught;

3. attempt answers to these
• What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house? (Your honour! Leading question, your honour! Falsely incriminates the defendant!)
• What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
• What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
• What do you call gym shoes?
• What do you say to address a group of people?
• What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
• What do you call your grandparents?
• What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
• What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
• What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

I don't know about my accent, but my oral sentence structure is one of the seven wonders of the post-Apocalypse. (Also, I think I look rather world-weary and ho-hum-isn't-this-nerdy, in my own surpassingly nerdy sort of way, whereas I'm not weary of the world (I love you, world) and I was delighted to be doing this, so I can only attribute any arch eyebrow raises and fatigued vocal intonations to the fact that it was Something Late O'Clock in the House of my Employers.)

And here's my question for you, gentle reader, on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means "Can't I just go to bed already?" and 10 means "Hot Dawg! Yes! My word!", how much do you think I sound like a person raised in Sydley and migrated to the 'Bourne? And what do you call gym shoes?


Mitzi G Burger said...

Your phonemes were uttered delightfully.

Ampersand Duck said...

Gawd I loved that. It was like being in the same room as you. I found myself talking back to you, but you ploughed on. Sigh.

You say pyjama, I say pyjaaaama. Wouldn't that be similar to Alabama?

I might try this exercise on the weekend... is there a time limit?

The Elephant's Child said...

Loved it.

Lis said...

What is that toilet paper thing called? No, really. Is there even a word for that? Tell me, someone, it will make for good dinner party conversation.

Mrs Harlot, I think you pronounce everything perfectly, but I was born in Sydney too. I'm only a half hour closer to Antarctica, and can't think of any notable odd local twangs. (the dialect known as bogan, that's universal, isn't it?) Mind you, they have some suburbs here which (if you're not a born and bred Canberran or fully assimilated migrant) have emphases that are a little bit dangerous. I'm thinking Piallago and Manuka, for a start. Like your Reservoir, I suspect.

TimT said...

Reservoir is just smashing (and just down the road from verrrry posh Rrrrrrregent. Just rrrrrolls off your tongue, dunnit.) It is my fond wish that, in the future, as Melbourne continues to grow and the northern suburbs we inhabit become richer, Reservoir will become the trendy place for everyone to go. I can see the advertising taglines for it now: 'A delightful afternoon in Reservoir'. 'Coffee with friends in Reservoir'.

Kate said...

This is so exciting! I just love hearing people's voices for the first time, especially when I am used to reading instead of listening!

Now, sand shoes? That's a new one for me. Fizzy drink. I like that one, too. Best of all? SHOPPING TROLLEY!

Yayyyy, trolley!

Kate said...

Oh yes, also the miscreant behavior! (Love that name for it.) I forgot to mention that in my first comment. This is known in the US as either "rolling" or "TPing." Why use toilet paper for its intended purpose when you can throw it in someone's trees, right? We know how to party.

Anonymous said...

In Brisbane a suitcase is called a port. What do folks in the 'bourne call it?

RipOffRed said...

Sheer gorgeousness!

I now call for poems incorporating all of the featured words.

TimT said...

Dad calls suitcases 'ports', but he grew up in Newcastle. These expressions have a habit of getting around!

Elisabeth said...

You have a classy accent, whether you can ascribe it to your state of origin your family of origin or your education, I can't say but it's good to hear your voice.

This is a fun post. I enjoy accent games, however much they might be serious exercises in phonetics. Shades of My Fair Lady. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Good one, Lexicon.

Our many South African friends call a sunshower a monkeys' wedding, and seem bemused that not many Australians know this term. The spaniel pups have adopted the expression as one of their own. Love it.

From your cuddly Wool Spaniel.

exford legs said...

Hi Lexicon Harlot. Long time reader. I stopped toilet-papering houses long enough to email Kate a sound file of my pronunciations. A fellow ex-Melburnian who met me after I had lived in Manchester for a year noted that I had acquired a few odd sounds.

exford legs said...

Also, I had a Google Maps - spurred lesson from my Polish colleagues about the correct pronunciation of two Australian geographical features: The Strzlecki Track ('Strezz-lecky?' 'No! Is -Shruleski-!') and Mount Kosciuszko (No! Is Kozhushko!)

Karen said...

I can pick a native Melburnian by their odd habit of transposing a and e sounds. So if they say they drive a "Felcon" and I enquire politely as to their origins, I'm never surprised when they answer, "Malbourne."

TimT said...

Whet're you telking ebout? Thet's berely baliaveble!

TimT said...

BTW, "left uuuuver from Uctuuuuber, duhling."

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Oh, hullo everyone! You all came and commented while I was deblogged for the weekend by my very pressing engagement with a pile of library books. Thank you!

So, here goes (my attempt at replying):

MGB: bless your cotton socks, and merci beaucoup for the pfaczbook linklove.

&Duck: I figure your weekend was consumed with rather more pressing tasks (migration etc), but pleeeeeeeaaase make a video. That'd be grouse. The image of you chatting away at my talking head is altogether heartwarming too. Thanks. (And no time limit, no; though youtube won't let you upload more than 15 minutes per clip.)

Elephant's Child: Thank you!

Lis: so nice to read from you. So, I wonder if there is a national Boganese (and if there is, whether its practitioners acknowledge or celebrate its existence). I suspect our vowels tend to indicate class (that baggy dangerous notion) more than region.

T: Reservoir is the shizzle. Any suburb with FOUR railway stations has to be going places.

Kate: thank you for being excited! Let me know if "shopping trolley" catches on in Alabama. :-)

Anon: I call it a suitcase. I once gave a Brisbergian exchange student/mathematician type a lift from a party back to his lodgings. I'd just pulled up at said lodgings to release him from the car when he squealed "I left my port at the party! I'm so sorry! We'll have to go back and get it!" Thinking that he was being overly precious about his fortified wine, I drove all the way back to the party giving surly monosyllabic answers to his attempts at conversation.

RipOffRed: no, I call for that poem. Gwaaaaan. You can do it.

Lis II: hullooooo!

Wool Spaniel: oh, that's gorgeous! Lucky monkeys.

Exford Legs: g'day. Australians' accents seem to become quite absorptive in the UK. More so (I'm relying shamelessly on my own personal and limited observations here) than they do in the US. So, there's my hypothesis. If you know any linguists who'd like to test it properly, I'd love to hear the results. (As for the Polish pronunciations of our mountains: I'd say that horse has done gone and bolted, good and proper.)

Karen: interesting! I wonder if it's the different histories of European settlement in Sydney and Melbourne that's produced the vowel translation. Or something else?