I have what I think is termed ‘Sympathetic Accent’ syndrome. Apart from obvious extremes, i.e. trying to speak patois in Jamaica, or formal business situations, I reckon I should be speaking in the same manner all the time.
If speaking to one of my American friends or relatives, my accent, by sentence five or so, has unwittingly morphed into deep south, or New Yorken before I can say, ‘whadup!’ If a tourist is unfortunate enough to ask me for directions, within seconds I’m mimicking their own accent, which is probably recorded on facebook status’ as something like “Had the piss taken out of me today by some rude black dude in London”. It would be fine if this was an ability I could switch off, but it’s constantly activated. I can be in a room full of people and my accent can change from West African, cockney and patios within as much time as it takes to finish my beer. I know someone said ‘life’s a stage’, but the make-up and costume is beginning to irritate me.
Some questions spring to mind: Am I wrong to think my SA is bad? Is my SA actually a good thing; a quality or talent even? Is it a way to make others around me feel more comfortable, and a clear sign of how much of a nice guy I am? Or is it just a pathetic manifestation of how much I need to be accepted and liked by others? Also, with such a vast repertoire at hand (or mouth), what should I use as my default accent? Answers on a postcard!