how to confuse americans

@jb78000 (15178)
June 28, 2010 7:51pm CST
it is one of the overplayed jokes among black, british, reasonably successful comedians that the combination of a british accent and african genes confuses many in the states. i suspect a lot of this is playing on uk prejudices but then again i have second hand anecdotal evidence that this might have something in it. from people slightly more reliable than comedians. so is this true in your experience or not? somebody who is black with a scottish, irish or cockney accent, confusing or just another annoying brit?
5 people like this
19 responses
@lacieice (2065)
• United States
29 Jun 10
I love to hear a British accent. It always sounds classy. I enjoy Irish, Scottish, even cockney. And no, they don't confuse me There are many regional accents here in the states. I am from the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania area, and my accent is recognizable almost everywhere. I have been far from home in other states, and invariably someone will say "You're from Pittsburgh, aren't you?" So...I wouldn't say its confusing...it is however, somewhat unexpected at times. I guess Americans don't expect to see many black people in other countries, which really makes no sense, but it is what it is.
1 person likes this
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
there was a survey done a few years ago asking germans whether they though the uk was a multi-racial country. most answered yes. they asked the brits the same thing, is germany a multi-racial country and they answered no. old stereotypes linger and incidentally both countries are multi racial although right now germany is slightly nicer than britain.
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@lacieice (2065)
• United States
29 Jun 10
I forgot to add that the funniest accent I ever heard was a German girl from around Manheim who moved to Texas. Nothing funnier than a Texas drawl with a German accent.
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@lacieice (2065)
• United States
29 Jun 10
Very interesting article, holly. I didn't mean to make fun of any ethnicity. You have to know this girl. I'm afraid I had no love for her...my son met her in Germany, brought her home, married her, then had to send her back for being abusive. She found herself another GI, and came back to the US with him. She called me once, and her drawl was so pronounced, it was ridictulous.
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@xfahctor (14111)
• Lancaster, New Hampshire
29 Jun 10
*shrug* Whats so confusing about it? Now, a blue (or any color for that matter) rabbit with a Scottish accent, that's not only confusing, it's disturbing....since rabbits aren't supposed to have accents....or thoughts expressible in an accent for that matter.
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@Torunn (2810)
• Norway
29 Jun 10
Many animals have accents. Mainly birds and large swimming mammals , but I'm sure you'd find some small furry ones with accents too. I think it's stranger that a rabbit can type :-)
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@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
i can draw too. brilliantly. hey did either of you ever see my self portait? i have a talent few can equal although i think dawn came close.
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@Torunn (2810)
• Norway
29 Jun 10
Yes, I saw it. It was wonderful, really artistic and a good impression of your true self :-)
1 person likes this
@laglen (19783)
• United States
29 Jun 10
well JB, a lot of things confuse me regularly but this isnt one of them. I am sure it confuses some, but then so does juice from concentrate....
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@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
never mind. i'll find something else to confuse you later
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@laglen (19783)
• United States
29 Jun 10
lol I believe in you!
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@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
you believe in blue rabbits? uhoh.
@spalladino (17927)
• United States
29 Jun 10
Actually, jb, it was during my teenage years, when the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were all the rage, that I first had the opportunity to hear a Brit of African descent speak and it certainly was an oddity at the time. I don't believe it's any less so today. People have their general stereotypes of others so any variation of the norm can be confusing and entertaining. I seem to recall seeing an Asian female comedian who had a British accent once...her ethnicity combined with her accent was a big part of her act. Black country music singers fall into the same category.
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@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
comedians tend to make full use of stereotypes, sometimes brilliantly. we have a female, muslim comedian and most of her act centres on her background, but she is really funny. i am not sure how well it would work in the states though, british humour tends to be too dry to translate well.
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@spalladino (17927)
• United States
30 Jun 10
To some of us it translates well. My mother has always been a fan of british humor and, because I was exposed to it, so am I.
• United States
30 Jun 10
I grew up a military brat and lived all over so it does not confuse me at all. I am used to it. On the funny side....I took the kids to disney at the beginnging of the year. There was a lady waiting for a show in line in front of us that was from England. My three year old asked her if she was Mary Poppins because that was the only person she had ever heard speak with an English accent. Thank goodness the lady just laughed and thought it was cute. LOL.
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@jb78000 (15178)
30 Jun 10
that is cute coming from a three year old. only start worrying if your daughter is still doing this at 13.
• Canada
29 Jun 10
Brits are annoying? lol. I think the French are worse but thats me. Im Canadian and we're told that we dont sound American at all. We do have different accent from province to province here, as someone said, Canada is so big, Im sure we dont all sound the same. I had a friend in Tennessee and most of the time when he called, I had to tell him to slow down, I couldnt make out what he was saying with the brawwwwl !! I dont care if people have accents. We have people of all nationality here in Canada who dont look Canadian but are Canadian and it always surprises me when they talk the same as we do. So its global and it must be the same in the US. YET, its always a surprise to see ....lets say a Japanese talk with an American accent or British accent or even a French accent. We'll get used to it eventually. As for me, my parents were born in Canada but my grandparents on my father's side were born in Italy. I have an Italian name and sometimes I like to nag the salespeople at the store, I pretend I have an Italian accent haha......its so funny how they talk louder and slower lol. We have your Queen here in Canada for 9 days. Im sure she'll notice the different accents as she's travelling all over the country...maybe she'll go back home with a Canadian accent???
1 person likes this
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
would be an improvement on that daft one she has just now
@catdla1 (6005)
• United States
29 Jun 10
Many people have accents which are different than one would expect. I don't find those instances confusing at all. Interesting maybe, but not confusing. Probably a few centuries ago it may have been more confusing, but with the mobility of many of the world's peoples...why should it be? I love the exotic nature that any accent adds to speech, it's almost musical for many. Comedians too frequently rely on old and outdated materials to just get laughs. Give me cLASSIC Stephen Wright, George Carlin or Bill Cosby over them anyday.
1 person likes this
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
you can't overdo cliches. apparently
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@Taskr36 (13928)
• United States
29 Jun 10
I can't speak for the whole country, but it's never seemed odd to me. Most people are well aware that there are plenty of black and Indian people living in England. Granted, I spent the last 20 years living in Florida and 17 of those years were in Orlando, home of the top entertainment destinations in the world so I saw people from all over the world on a regular basis.
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@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
i would imagine most people in the states are far less ignorant than the stereotype. however trying to confuse people there is *exactly* the kind of thing i'd do if i was black.
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@Hatley (159683)
• Garden Grove, California
29 Jun 10
jb the black, british, reasonably successful comedians do not confuse this American at all. Why should it as we have a lot of people from Africa, Scotland, Ireland and yes Brittain too who all have accents. Why is it that p;eole think we Americans are dumb bunnies? Are therenot dumb bunnies in all the other countries too? or is this bash America day? Guess my sense of humor just evap;orated over this so will say this yet , another annoying Brit trying to upset me. I have heard all these v arious accents before and am not really that amused. My 3 gr grandparents on one side came form ireland , on the other side from Scotland so am really familar with all sorts of accents. Most Americans are much smarter than you seem to give them credit for.or is this my warped sense of humor blue bunny at having to wait three to five minutes to load responses on our dear MyLot tonight.
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
i was asking because it seemed to be pretty silly and i was poking fun at our own predudices - one of which is assuming americans are as thick as two short planks and as ignorant as all get out. which is obviously not true. hatley, i am not slagging off americans - just asking an annoying question.
1 person likes this
@irishidid (8152)
• United States
29 Jun 10
All I know is I can understand a British black better than I can the blacks in my state. My neighbor talks to me. Her daughter has to interpret what she's saying. LOL
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
i had an interesting experience in the states where a blonde american kept asking a black shop assistant to repeat herself. the girl in the shop did have an accent but i couldn't work out why i could understand her just fine but this american apparently could not. not going to make any judgement from that - make of it what you want. it is true that different accents can be hard to understand, most of the english side of my family could never make out what my grandpa was saying.
@irishidid (8152)
• United States
29 Jun 10
Yeah, but there's a difference between talking with an accent and talking like you've got your mouth full of marbles.
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
here's a good one. not the scottish accent my grandpa had but a common one all the same: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gT1Yqkptpow&feature=fvw
@sulynsi (2838)
• Canada
29 Jun 10
I'm not really sure why it should be. In Canada, at least, and I'm know is also true in the States, and even more so, accents are widely varied, depending on the geographic area you come from. 4000 or so kilometres (or is it miles?) divide me and my BC compatriots. My accent is bound to differ somewhat. The UK is tiny compared to North America yet what an amazing variety in accents between one area and another, even within the same city! I do admit, however, seeing a Korean, speaking English, with a Spanish lilt, does make my mind do a double take!
@sulynsi (2838)
• Canada
29 Jun 10
hmmm awesome editing there! "I'm also know" I think I was trying to say, "I know its also true ...." Please excuse my accent!
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
the,i'll call it a town (actually a hamlet), that i grew up in had a different accent to the town ten miles down the road. the lads from each had wars, although i suspect after 14 most grew up. anyway you are canadian which means, brilliantly, you have an american accent, albeit a quiet one, in my book. and don't bother saying well i'm mainly inuit, black, asian or whatever. north americans are americans .
@sulynsi (2838)
• Canada
29 Jun 10
"To be" or not "to bay" that may well be the question! Never mind the accents, look at the choice of words! "lads" "wars" Here it would be "guys" and "fights". What IS an American accent? I was listening intently to a lady from Chicago, Detroit I believe. She asked me what was the matter and I said, 'oh, nothing, I just like your accent" "Wake up and smell the cawfee, hunny, you gawt wun too!" Then there were the kids from "down south" who were excited about the "bays" at the Smithsonian. Don't forget New Yawkers either, cawse they have a very distinct speech pattern! My accent is cosmopolitan, because I grew up in a major city. I try hard to pick up the more quaint accent of my current Maritime neighbours. It makes me feel more at home. Now if you try to understand someone from Corner Brook Nfld. THERE is a challenge. I mean, the words are English, but the way they use them and string them together? Forget it. I may as well be listening to the 'lads' on Coronation Street!
@Rollo1 (16728)
• Boston, Massachusetts
29 Jun 10
A zillion years ago, when I was a child, there was a children's show on TV which I can't remember the name of but can hum the theme tune of. Of the several children featured, one was a black boy with a British accent. I was surprised, but I was a child with limited knowledge of the world beyond my experience. Of course these days, we've plenty of exposure to famous black Brits such as Lenny Henry; and anyone who follows F1 knows of Lewis Hamilton. I think television has done much more to de-mystify the world and spread understanding of culture than most give it credit for. Sure, it's a great wasteland for the most part, but even though we might cringe at the exports from our countries to others and the often exaggerated or false images that might be promulgated thereby, we have to acknowledge it does break down barriers to understanding. Interestingly, there is a commercial on TV for a candy which portrays two Korean Scotsmen as an example of a contradiction. So, it's apparently Koreans with a Scottish accent that confuse Americans.
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
lenny henry? oh dear. he is no more representative of the british or british humour than simon cowell btw. so south east asians with scottish accents confuse americans? never considered that, living in scotland means i know loads, must remember to tell any booking holidays in the states to maximise the confusion opportunites .
1 person likes this
@Rollo1 (16728)
• Boston, Massachusetts
29 Jun 10
Lenny Henry may not be everyone's favorite comedian but he is hugely successful. Besides, your question wasn't about successful Brit comedians (Ricky Gervais, for example, is successful but he's a prat) it was about how those stupid Americans can be easily confused. My point was that we've all got cable, the internet and satellite TV and so we're nearly as educated about the world as the rest of you.
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
yes i know but mention incredibly unfunny comedians and i will go off on a tangent. ricky gervais is the prize winner certainly. anyway see my comment to hatley - i really do not think all americans are as ignorant as the stereotype suggests but there might be possibilities to annoy them, which i am always looking for. everybody needs a hobby.
1 person likes this
@cynthiann (18637)
• Jamaica
30 Jun 10
I think that you are feeling naughty Blue Bunny. After 40 years I still have a Brit accent - at least they tell me that out here.But when I am in the U.K. they tell me that I have a Jamaican accent. I don't know
@jb78000 (15178)
30 Jun 10
as if. i am nothing if not deadly serous. and i suspect you actually have neither accent, which is good because it's individual. well unless you have a mixture of american and british. those mid-atlantic accents are for fish, and just means someone is a bit undecided.
@cynthiann (18637)
• Jamaica
1 Jul 10
Believe me, Blue Bunny, I do not have a 'salt water Yankee' accent. Ask Dawn. I am distinctively British but when I wish to make a point clear- here in Jamaica- I then speak in Patois. So in the U.K. I may use many of the colourful expressions that I have acquired from Jamaica. For example-instead of referring to the sole of my foot - I may talk about my 'foot bottom'. That sort of thing No one can mistake my accent. Ask Dawn?
@jb78000 (15178)
1 Jul 10
i never said you did. and i believe you. however if in jamaica they tell you your accent is british and in britain they tell you jamaican then perhaps you have a mix? not a midatlantic one. that would sound like a cross between the cast of friends and a radio one dj. i would never insinuate that you spoke like that. well not unless i was being annoying and this i never* do. *for 'never do' read ' do this all the time for no particular reason'
@Torunn (2810)
• Norway
29 Jun 10
I wouldn't be surprised, I confused them by being white (or pinkish) and sounding slightly Scottish (thanks to my crazy friend and Kilmarnock fan from Ayr) and Welsh (Norwegians have a quite singing accent) and foreign at the same time. I kept repeating myself in the US (especially Chicago), the locals didn't understand much. Never had problems in any other English talking countries. But wouldn't a real cockney accent confuse most people without one?
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
it's because they don't travel much. the only accents they ever hear are their own, that bland american one all their film stars speak, and what they think is a british accent but doesn't actually exist. the emily from friends one. anything else is confusing :)
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@Torunn (2810)
• Norway
29 Jun 10
One of my Austrian friends has studied English in England and somehow ended up with the same accent as the Queen. I thought nobody else spoke like that anymore. Not confusing but quite weird.
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@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
how odd. nobody else does speak like that, apart apparently from austrian language students.
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@anniepa (26890)
• United States
29 Jun 10
Nope, that's not confusing to me at all, Rabbit. However, what IS very confusing to me is when someone implies that I and others from my part of Pennsylvania have accents because EVERYONE knows we're the only people on earth with absolutely NO accent! Annie
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
all mute then?
@anniepa (26890)
• United States
29 Jun 10
No, in fact some of us never shut up. We just talk "normal", unlike anyone else anywhere else in the world...lol! Annie
@dawnald (84157)
• Shingle Springs, California
29 Jun 10
There was a black girl from England the year I was in Germany, folks were looking at her kind of strangely as I recall. She said she was from southern England, so I asked her if she had a southern drawl. She didn't get it...
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
she should have. some bits of the south of england have brilliant drawls. try somerset.
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@dawnald (84157)
• Shingle Springs, California
29 Jun 10
Maybe that was her "stupid American" blank stare as opposed to her "I don't get it" blank stare...
• Australia
2 Jul 10
Hi JB. I think it is less confusing now than it was a number of years ago - or at least less surprising. The first time I returned to England, in 1980, I was served in a shop in London by a black man in a turban - and a very upper crust English accent. I have to admit to being surprised, but now take it for granted. As the saying goes, "the world is getting smaller." Many of England's Olympic team are coloured and some of our Aussie team have very "foreign" names. I wonder if in another 20 years or so there might be a bigger mix of cultures in most countries.
@jb78000 (15178)
3 Jul 10
you can't detect foreigners just by looking at people any longer, which must be enormously frustrating for the xenophobic
@coffeeshot (3786)
• Australia
29 Jun 10
We don't really have that issue in Australia because we are extremely multicultural. There are people of all races here and so if we see a dark person in the street we understand they could be from anywhere! But yeah I guess we are so bombarded with American TV that when we hear a dark person speaking in a British accent it does seem strange at first. It's just what we're exposed to a lot in our day to day lives I guess!
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
we all form expectations of people based on their looks, some more than others, and it can be funny to confound these. what would also be good fun would be looking like a completely ditsy blonde, clothes and all, and then chatting to people about the latest developments in quantum physics or something
@Latrivia (2890)
• United States
29 Jun 10
How would that be confusing? Do people think Americans don't know that black people live in Europe, and thus have European accents?
@jb78000 (15178)
29 Jun 10
i'm guessing that you have both the british exaggerating american ignorance and the actual ignorance existing.