Why do NYers think I should British?

I spent the last few days being snowed in here at New York City, staying with a local friend. Now, in case my username doesn’t give it away, I’m from Mississippi, and my friend and the people he introduced me to all know that. However, several of them have proclaimed “You don’t sound like you’re from Mississippi! You sound like you’re British!” :confused: I find this bizarre. I’ve never been to Britain, I don’t watch British TV so the chances of me using British slang seems remote, and to my ears, my accent sounds as much British as it does Chinese or Argentinian, which is to say not at all. I would just ignore these statements except that I’ve heard them multiple times on different occasions, and it’s always the exact same thing. I also apparently look mysteriously Russian but that’s neither here nor there.

When I was on the cruise my friend and I stopped by the ship’s gym and spoke to the physical trainer. My friend, ignoring her UK pin and the fact she mentioned she was from Leeds, asked her if she was from Mississippi, too. :smack: Clearly, as I neither sound British nor can she possibly sound Southern, there must be some reason my dear New Yorker friends think we sound alike. What could it be, fellow Dopers?

sigh And yes, I noticed I left a small typo in the title. These things happen. Please let it be.

I work with Brits and I don’t think you sound British at all. I’m not sure what someone from Mississippi should sound like, but I can say that you don’t sound British to me.

You never sounded British to me. :slight_smile:

No doubt one of our many linguists will be by with an anwer (they’re a cunning lot!) but my guess is you probably speak with a non-rhotic accent. In other words, you drop your "r"s. When you say “car” does is sound like “cah”? Does “wherever” come out like “wheheveh”? I’ve always thought the reason British actors could do southern American accents so well is because they naturally drop their "r"s . Think Vivian Leigh as Scarlet O’Hara.
Can’t imagine why a New Yawkeh would mistake you for a Brit, though, as they often drop *their *"r"s.

I don’t know, but when I first moved to Mississippi, one of my students told me I sounded like I was “from London or something.” (I’m from the DC area and have what I think is a fairly neutral, mid-American accent.) So evidently, it works both ways.

For Americans, I think British is the default for unrecognizable accents. When one of my brothers was in high school, people would occasionally ask him if he was British. He has difficulty with the letter R, but he was born and raised in New York and does not sound British.

Do you talk about filling the lorry up with petrol? If so, that could be it.

You don’t put petrol in a lorry, you put in derv.

Anyway, everyone should British - it’s the best way to do.

Oops. :wink:

I have read a few times that the accent that exists today that sounds the most like the accent spoken by Shakespearean actors in Shakespearean times is in Virginia. Other than that, I got nothing.

My experience with Noo Yawkers has been that they really aren’t very well traveled, for the most part. There’s the “New York/Manhattan is the center of the universe, everything one could want is here, so why would I even want to leave?” mindset. When they do travel, at least for middle-income residents of the NYC area, it seems like it’s just to a very limited set of destinations; Florida, Las Vegas, New England, and maybe somewhere in the Northeast Corridor for a day trip. Consider all the Long Islanders that think the state north of Westchester County is a sparsely populated rural landscape where the hick locals tip cows for fun.

Mississippienne, given the “everything outside of NYC is country” attitude, I’m surprised the locals didn’t think you were from Syracuse or Binghamton.

I admittedly do come from the UK - I moved to New Zealand when I was 5 and had a very strong British accent, and now, as of a year and a half ago, I’m again a UK resident.

When I was in high school in NZ, long after my accent had faded, people would still ask me “Are you British?”. I was told it was because I spoke very clearly, or because I enunciated well. Could it be that?

I am British, living not too far from Leeds actually, and I definately don’t think you sound British…

Based on that sample, you definitely sound more Southern than British, not that I would necessarily pick up on your accent right away anyway. But reciting a poem when you know you’re being recorded isn’t close to conversation. Even if you’re trying to sound natural, you’re bound to modulate your voice and enunciate differently.

(Just go to a community theater production to hear how artificial people can sound when they’re trying to sound natural!)

I can see someone thinking “She sounds different, she must be English,” but that doesn’t explain the “You don’t sound like you’re from Mississippi” comments.

Maybe, and I don’t mean to endorse this view, they think of Mississippians as uncultured rubes. But everyone knows the English are literate and cultured (except the chimney sweeps). So your accent tips them off that you’re from elsewhere, and since you’re a polished, educated person, they assume England.

Try spitting on the ground more often.

While you don’t sound British in the sample that you give in the OP, you don’t sound particularly like you’re from Mississippi either. (Actually I met you once at one of Dave and Ginger’s parties, but I didn’t remember what you sounded like.) You have a rather unplaceable accent, I think. I suspect that people are listening to you and being unable to figure out where you’re from, so they give up and guess that you’re British.

Is there any chance the OP has been the sweet and charming butt of a long-running joke…?

“Ssssh! Here comes Amy. Ask her how Manchester United is doing this year…”

You don’t sound very British. You sound more like Johanna Parker’s attempt at a Lousiana accent.

Just tell them it must be due to the fact you were born in British Columbia. Spoken with confidence and a knowing nod of the head, this should satisfy anyone who can’t differentiate Mississippi from Middlesex.

This same logic will explain why you look Russian, as all you people from those frozen northern places tend to look alike to us normal people. :wink:

That’s odd 'cause when my friends in NZ and Aussie try to speak with an American accent it sounds like they are from the South. They definately get that southern twang when trying for an American accent

You’ve turned us into a verb? Help! Let us out! :eek:

The OP sounds normal to me…well, the voice is kinda sexy, but the accent is normal. The long “i” in “pine” marks you as definitely Southern. I used to get the “are you British” thing too, usually from Yankees.