Monday, August 9, 2010

Der amerikanischer Akzent

[ The American Accent ]

Whenever there came a time that I did speak English while abroad, for some it was exciting to actually hear an American accent. It is as if it is something that is reserved for TV programs and music - after all, British English is what is learned in German school systems.

Learning German, some sounds became difficult to pronounce when I was in fluid speech. I worked hard to perfect a passable accent while also learning grammar and syntax, however some sounds just wouldn't come out right. One example - würde & wurde, the first is Konjunktiv II tense, and can translate as "would". The second, past passive, something like "has been". Very different grammatical meanings for vowels that to the american tongue may as well be the same sound. Add in the guttural, gargling German "R" to these lip exercises, and you have minutes at a time with me sitting with Inge just saying "wurde, würde, wurde, würde...". You can imagine how crazy it must have looked if you walked in to hear this.

Back to English, the American accent - always to my amusement and surprise - has an element of foreignness to it along with its seemingly endless amount of slang and regional quirks. One commercial that I have been searching for online for a long time now utilized a goofy rendition of this American accented German [ more of a southern twang ] to sell ... miracle whip.

The dialog roughly goes like this:

Our refrigerators in America are much bigger

our steaks too

In America, you can buy ready-made potato-salad at the store

Wow, you couldn't buy something so delicious like this

That is because it is homemade

I like homemade!

Check out the commercial just to get a good laugh at the americanized accent, or the reactions of the German people at those 'Amis ' not knowing what good potato salad is ...