After living around people with another accent, does your own accent begin to sound unfamiliar?

I’ve been living abroad for four years. During these four years, most of the English speakers I know are British or Australian. I’ve noticed that I’ve begun to use quite a few British words in my speech.

But when I hear an American, it still feels just like home. The moment they open their mouths, neurons fire in my brain saying “these people talk right!” American accents remain my baseline for “normal” and I do not perceive Americans as having an accent.

But if I stayed away long enough, would I? Would I eventually start noticing Americans talk with a broad American accent? Would I become aware of my own accent?

My experiences in living overseas have been pretty similar. My own accent just sounds right. But on the other hand, people who move to a different part of the US often pick up the local accent. Maybe smaller differences are easier to get used to?

A friend of mine grew up in Ireland, but has lived in the States for nearly 20 years.

She still considers all of us Americans to have accents. And, she still certainly has a noticeable Irish accent. But, when she goes home to Ireland, all of her family remark on how she sounds like an American now. :smiley:

This happens to me too - my parents back in South Africa say I sound American, but my American wife tells me I sound more South African when I speak to them than I do usually. But she does exactly the same thing when we visit her parents in her small southern hometown!

Not quite as big of a difference as US vs. Britain, but…

I grew up in rural northern-ish Minnesota and went to college in Chicago, which is where I live now. My first year or two at school people would notice my accent. After being in Chicago for about 8 years my Minnesota accent is almost completely gone. When I talk to my mom on the phone I can definitely hear her accent, which I couldn’t do before.

I lived in England (Leeds, then Oxford) for seven years. After about year one, all traces of my American accent were gone, and I started getting questions like “Are you from Wales?” or “What part of Scotland are you from?” I didn’t have a Scottish or Welsh accent at all, but the English people I talked to could sense that my accent was not yet placeable. By about year three those questions had mostly stopped, and nobody asked where I was from anymore.

When I saw a videotape of my wedding (year four) I couldn’t believe what had happened to my voice. I sounded more English than my now ex-in-laws, who were born and raised in London but were now living in France. The transformation was complete, I suppose.

The strange thing is that within three months of moving back to the US my American accent came back completely. When I worked in California my boss was from England, and one Australian who knew us both commented that “She speaks with an English accent and an American vocabulary, and he speaks with an American accent and an English vocabulary.”

My parents are Kiwis, but I lived in the UK for five and a half years - from when I was born, to when I was five and a half. I had an extremely plummy accent. I moved back to the UK (from NZ) almost two years ago, and yes, it is strange to hear Kiwi accents at this point. They sound foreign, but in a unique way. It’s not “like home”, but it’s not exactly other, either.

I lived in yankee land for several years, on two different occasions. Yankees always sounded like yankees to me. When I got back home, people sounded normal. Oddly enough, yankees seem to think I have a deep Southern drawl. Normal people don’t.

I’ve lived in the UK for 15 years now. I use the appropriate British terms for things (pavement for sidewalk, boot and bonnet for trunk and hood on cars, etc) but still have an mid-west American accent. If people guess where I’m from it’s usually Canada.

I’ll pick up a Southern accent in a heartbeat, and I’m from Wisconsin!

My best friend moved to Tennessee for a few years, I was talking on the phone with him for a couple hours, at the end of the conversation I was speaking with a southern drawl and he’d returned to his Wiscony accent (yeah der eh…)

I tend to pick up accents too if I live around them too long. Now my own “natural” accent is a mish-mash with an underlying southern drawl, and no one recognizes it. :wink: When I am overseas, they tell me I sound American, when I am in America they tell me I sound foreign (I have even been accused of sounding Australian on several occasions despite having never been there) and of course to my own ear I sound perfectly normal.

I have lived around so many accents that none really sound “like home” to me, except maybe the southern accents of my family, but even they are sounding “off” to me sometimes. Now I live in Kansas and everyone sounds weird all the time, but I imagine that I sound just as odd to them.

My stepdaughter has lived in Germany for several years. I haven’t noticed changes in her actual accent, but have noticed German affecting her choice of vocabulary every so often. For instance, the last time she visited we had just moved to a new place, so she asked what the “house number” was. I thought she was asking about the land line number, but she meant what we call the street address–or Hausnummer in German.

I’ve been living in Australia for eleven years. Now when I call home, or otherwise hear a thick NZ accent, I almost cringe.

I probably still have a NZ accent in a lot of words I speak, but I am unable to detect it, because NZ and AU have very similar accents and I have assimilated somewhat.

It might be because I grew up in Germany, but I thought “house number” was exactly that, and use it often. I thought it was just as normal in American, odd…

The one vocabulary choice that I make that may or may not be from my time in Germany that Americans find strange is that I go to the “movie house” to see films.

I just remembered something else about this. I studied linguistics in college, at one point planning to major in it, but then changing my mind. So I did get fairly deep into the subject.

Since I spent my junior year in Germany, it was there that I first learned much of the terminology of the field. In writing, usually, the terminology looks similar in both languages, but the pronunciation can be very different, for example English/German meTATHesis/MetaTHEse, which is what happens when the sound elements of a word switch places. On returning to this country, for a while I always had to consciously stop myself from pronouncing these terms in the German manner since that was how I first learned them, and therefore how they sounded the most natural to me.

10 years in Australia for me. I don’t cringe when I hear an NZ accent but it does standout where before it just sounded normal. Most Australians don’t pick that I’m a Kiwi but I never had a very strong accent to begin with. Aucklanders have always sounded to me like they have a strong NZ accent even when I was living in NZ and had never been anywhere else.

I cringe too. I have a Maine/ Massachusetts accent after 20 years up here. Not as bad as The Bob’s Discount Furnature guy. I now say ovah, instead of over, sodah instead of soda. I notice it and go where did that come from?. As long as I don’t start saying this un and that un I’m ok.

I lived in Spain for a year, living with Spaniards and attending a Spanish university. The only time I spoke or heard English was weekly telephone calls with my mom. When I got back to America, the people around me didn’t sound strange, but the voices on the television sounded bizarre. I would think, “Why is the announcer speaking with that ridiculous slow cowboy accent?” It wasn’t that the television announcers had changed however, American English just sounded extremely “drawly” compared to the rapid-fire Spanish I was used to.

Another kiwi here. After 9 years in the UK I can now only distinguish between really broad Aussie and Kiwi accents - the more moderate accents are too similar to tell apart. But they do say that the Kiwi accent is broadening - an attempt to maintain a national distinctive in the face of lots of Aussie and US influences on the media.


I’m one of those that unknowingly start using the same accent as the person I’m talking with, perhaps more so when I speak English than when I speak Swedish. Once in the USA I was asked if I had had en English teacher from North Carolina after a couple of minutes conversation’ with a person who grew up there.