Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Old Country V New Country

This post is not going to be about how the UK is better than the US or vice versa. It is about something that has been bothering me for some time now. When we were still living in the UK there was a lot of stuff in the media about the number of immigrants arriving in the UK and the fact they were not adapting to the new culture. They were staying with the culture of their old country even if it meant not blending in with the new country and customs. There were complaints about people not learning the language and the amount of things being done to adapt to them rather than the other way around. I saw complaints in the media about the fact some councils were 'banning Christmas' so they would not 'offend' people who were not Christian and would be 'more inclusive'. British born people complaining that people coming to 'their country' and not trying to be more British. There were also complaints about councils doing more to help 'foreigners' than British born people.

Now what about me? I am British but I am no longer living in Britain. I am living in the US. I am using American words for things and my accent has started to change. My children are sounding more American with every passing day and they use American terminology for things every day over using the British words to describe things. That does not mean we are no longer British or that we do not want to associate ourselves with our home Country but that we are adapting ourselves to our new home. Some British people, who I know have complained about immigrants in the UK, seem to take issue with the fact that we are adapting to our life in the US in the very same way they want immigrants to the UK to adapt. They say we are forgetting we are British. We are apparently forgetting who we are. No we're not. We could never forget who we are. How come it is not alright for us to adapt to another country but people going to the UK have to adapt? Why should I have to repeat myself over and over again when it is easier to use a different word or change the pronunciation of a word slightly? My passport is still a British passport. It is still that lovely maroon color. It is not a blue American passport.

Also why would you move somewhere new and not even try to adapt a little to the new culture? Who knows, you may even like it. Why be so close minded that you think no where could be on par with where you have come from? Jealousy may have something to do with it I suppose. The fact that people may see stuff on the news and decide that what they are watching is an accurate reflection of an entire nation and it's people.  Of course the problem there is that usually the things reported on the news are not particularly nice.

I have heard/read complaints from people about the fact that some actors seem to be using a trans Atlantic accent and no longer sound like they should. A prime example here could be Catherine Zeta Jones and the fact that people do not think she sounds Welsh enough anymore. (The comments on this article are just lovely aren't they?! How dare she leave Wales?!) Think about it people! When did she last live in Wales? Is she expected to take classes to keep her Welsh accent? If you are young and always surrounded by people who have a different accent to you then of course you will start to pick up a bit of it. Some people have an ear for accents and others don't.

In a nutshell, I feel that it has to be a two way street when people move to a new country. The new residents have to at least try to adapt a little to the new country and customs but the people born there also have to be a little welcoming and understand that not everyone is like them or wants to be like them. The world would be a pretty boring place if we were all the same.

Remember, my accent doesn't make me who I am, I am the sum of all my parts.

[This post is not aimed at any specific people so please don't hurl abuse at me thinking I am 'having a go' at you because I'm not. It's not all about you, you're not that important.]


  1. I am a Brit living in US for ten years and I have adapted pretty well. My kids have a transatlantic accent - oh no don't like that much! I suppose it is much harder to adapt to a new culture if you also have to learn a new language so I applaud those who manage it.

  2. I left the UK 20 years ago but my accent hasn't really changed. People back home, when they notice this, seem almost to be congratulating me on "staying British". Of course, I use all the American terms. I mean, you can't go around saying "nappy" and "dummy" if no one else knows what the heck you're talking about.

  3. I think you've said it all Sarah. First time reading your blog and you write it very well. I have found myself using American words, only because my neighbours, friends, don't have a clue what I'm on about if I don't. I think my 2 youngest are definitely picking up the accent and Chloe who's 13 said, when I asked her, that it makes it easier for her friends to understand her. I wouldn't like to lose my accent because I'm proud to be Scottish and I like to stand out and be different and it's certainly a conversation starter!!!! But I also understand how and why our accents change when we move abroad :-)

  4. The best one I have come across is when I said there was a power cut, so I used a torch to see where I was going. Here in the US a torch is a thing used in caves with flames. Once I said "flash light" they knew what I meant... although I find it funny that it was a good 10 minutes before anyone questioned the idea of me wondering around the house with a big bit of fiery wood!


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