Why my accent is ridiculous

I went to a state school in the North East of England. In a town, 25 miles from Newcastle.

It is a rare blue splat on the local political landscape. A posh town then, but with less posh areas. Just enough rough for a teenager not to want to be associated with the smooth.

I wanted a Geordie accent. Being a middle class kid I presumed I didn’t have one until I left.

I went to college in Manchester. Madchester as it briefly was, when a Manc accent was pretty cool. Some of it stuck.

Despite a decade back in Newcastle the accent never really returned. Most of my friends were from around the country. They’d arrived as students and never went home. The newsroom I worked in was the same.

Back then I was still unavoidably middle class in Newcastle. But if I travelled to London people heard what was left of the accent, saw my big frame and shaved head and presumed I was a brickie.

Auf Wiedersehen Pet has a lot to answer for

Then came the travelling. An initial three years in Hanoi with an Australian org plus a longish term Australian girlfriend.

The Australian ambassador — no less — commended me on my “impeccable” Aussie accent.

I was gutted.

During those Hanoi years I spent my days talking rudimentary English with Vietnamese. It took me an hour to snap out of it in the pub.

Mmm. This is good. Yes? Very hot today I think.

Then later Central America surrounded by US Peace Corps type who uniformly spoke in a stoner drawl.

Cameroon for a year — where pidgin was a language in its own right.

I was so lonely there. Most of the voices I heard were from painfully slowly downloaded TV shows. I may as well have worked in Baltimore.

And now I’m back in Hanoi.

Married to a Vietnamese person. Bringing up a (hopefully) bilingual child.

It’s doesn’t help when I say things like “Daddy’s going di choi”.

Di choi (a very generic “go out”) is just a better phrase than anything English has. Likewise I say “ngon” not delicious.

Roi (already) and chua (not yet).

I sometimes say “already roi”.

I say it because it’s stupid and my stupidity tickles me.

I work from home so interaction with colleagues is largely typed.

Even now, most of the people I hear talking are on TV.

On a recent shared video I was accused by family of saying a very American “da-dee”.

Truth is many Northern English phrases would now feel like more of an affectation that giving in to this naff international mess.

Some people never lose their accent. Mine is ridiculous— but it’s pretty much my life.

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