A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


In Algeria, my first language at school was French. I started Arabic when I was 9 and English at 14.
Our first English teacher was a French Père Blanc, called Monsieur Ferry. Prior to me, he'd taught two of my three sisters. His French accent did more than just seep through when he spoke English, and now when I come to think of it, he sounded exactly like Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther!
"Ze breakfirst is Rrrready, sed Meesssseeez Smissss!"
Over the years, prior to coming to the UK, people of various nationalities taught me English. Passing American tourists, a French-English couple who, halfway through the year disappeared to film an Algerian comedy, a Pakistani who made us believe countries were ruled by Go'rments...

So, when I got to Edinburgh, my English was pretty mixed up! And to top it all, I had to try and understand the Scots! Actually, it wasn't that bad because within about three months, I began Rrrrrroling my Rrrrrrs and trying to copy Sean Connery's cool style in my Afro hairstyle.
“Shaken not stirrrrrrred, Mish Moneypenny!”

At breakfast one morning, while staying at Mrs. McDonald's guesthouse, an English couple smiled at my Scottish accent.

After that, I ended up in NE England where, Kingston Girl can vouch, English sounds like a foreign dialect.

Working with Greeks sailors and Italians chefs meant that my accent got even more flowery.

The end result is that, although a Welshman can pinpoint that I live in the North East, he will never be able to dig deep enough to fathom out my origins!

Nowadays, I do believe I sound local, that’s until someone bursts out laughing:
"My goodness! You sounded exactly like a local when you said….!"

Photo: Algerian Spring Landscape.



Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

Accents are so interesting.

This evening, while doing the dishes I was thinking about this, how even within the Caribbean, we all pronounce words differently.

Yet the folks from the wealthier Caribbean countries laugh at the way Guyanese speak. Weird, huh?

Yet we all have accents.

4/12/05 2:14 AM  
Blogger Hayden said...

What a GORGEOUS photo!

I envy you your languages. I keep trying, but have yet to learn any. I freeze up, and the wrong phrases come out. Japanese in Paris, German in Italy, and never ever do I figure out what anyone is saying to me. I rely on mime, smiles, and the kindness of strangers....

4/12/05 2:48 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

What a stunning photograph. I have fantasies about Africa. It's the continent I've always most wanted to visit only having known North America and Europe. But where in the world to start?

4/12/05 3:16 AM  
Blogger Viking054 said...

I am a little jealous too... I wish I had grown up with more languages. I'm still pretty good with them anyway, I majored in linguistics, afterall. But I wish I was one of those guys who knew 14 languages. 1.5 just isn't enough.

4/12/05 4:30 AM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

beautiful photo and this is a cute and funny post. Your Sean accent is hilarious. very very funny.p.s. gg I refuse to believe that I have an accent!

4/12/05 6:58 AM  
Blogger cream said...

GG, I owe this post to your latest one. It just jogged my memory about accents. Sometimes, my English friends revel at the amount of accents in the UK. I tell them that this is common all over the world, often neighbouring villages can reveal slights differences in accennt.

Hayden, I borrowed the photo some time ago from an Algerian photographer. As for languages, the only way forward, is to go to classes and travel. You'll always find someone who'll speak English to get you out of trouble.

Andrea, everywhere in the world is worth seeing and Africa is good place to visit. There is a rough travel shop in Edinburgh which specialises in road trips around Africa... Oh, how I would love to have the time to join in one day!

Viking, welcome back! So, is Spanish your point five of a language?

Yesh, Val! I often shpeak Shcottish the way Sean does.
The misconception about accents is that if one is said to own one, it is assumed that one is common. No way! Accents are inherently linked to area, parents' origins, upbringing, etc...
There was a time when the BBC only employed people who spoke English like the Queen, marbles in their gob! But fortunately the policy changed a while ago and now it's great to listen to the weather in Scottish or the News in Irish.

So, Val, even though I know you were kidding, I am afraid GG is right once again. Even if you think you don't have an accent you still have one!

4/12/05 11:22 AM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

Ooh la la, Algeria is tres jolie.

[That's the sum total of my francais right now].

Speaking of accents, I can do Indian [from India]...the accent, not the language.

4/12/05 11:47 AM  
Blogger cream said...

Your Francais, GG is tres joli, aussi!
I once tried to do a Jamaican accent, I ended up sounding Welsh, I think.
Raised a few laughs!

4/12/05 12:26 PM  
Blogger DCveR said...

If you really want to be scared at an accent just drive a few miles north to good'ol Aberdeen.

4/12/05 2:52 PM  
Blogger cream said...

This is new to me!
As far as Scottish accents go, I like Glaswegian. Sounds like a song!
I've been told that folks in Inverness speak the Queen's English. New a girl from there, she still sounded Scottish!

4/12/05 4:07 PM  
Blogger juliana said...

So you're originally Algerian. Interesting. My parents have a jamaican accent, but I can't hear it. I can hear my aunts and uncles and other jamaicans, but not my parents. Some poeple say I have an accent but nothing like a Jamaican accent. I'm kinda mixed up and in the middle. But I guess more than anything it's a Maryland Washington DC accent. Which is different from a New York accent and different from the south or West Virgina.

I just sound american.

4/12/05 6:42 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Juliana, I am sure that other Americans will be able to pinpoint exactly where you are from in Maryland, but foreigners won't be able to distinguish the parcularities of your accent. As you say, they may just know that you are American.
Yes, guilty as charged, I am originally Algerian... In the UK for 30 years much longer than I spent in Algeria!

4/12/05 6:52 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I love the photo what amazing fold in the hill, like a garment.

Accents are strange aren't they. In England no-one can tell where I'm from except where I'm not.. but in the States I was being asked if I was Australian as often as not...

For me its the way a voice is used rather than its accent that is most interesting...

Your aptitude with languages is enviable - especially since I failed o-level French!

4/12/05 9:06 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Caro, languages are like bus passes. The more you have the further you will travel.
Unless you want to walk and then it is a bit harder.

5/12/05 12:32 AM  
Blogger Viking054 said...

"So, is Spanish your point five of a language?"

Nope. Japanese and Portuguese, about 1/4 each. Although the Japanese bit is dwindling as Portuguese becomes more important to me...

Funny thing though, I've been told I sound almost like a native when I speak other languages. I'm very good at mimicking accents I guess.

5/12/05 1:39 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

Unfortunately, I only know one language.I think I too just sound American,although I live in the souhtern U.S. The accent they give "souhtern" characters on television, is usually a joke.

5/12/05 1:43 AM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

Once when I was in London, this darling young woman turned to me and asked "Are you American?" I was surprised cuz I had not said a word. I was opening a door and held it open for her too. i asked in wonderment how she knew and she replied "I know because you are so polite!".

5/12/05 2:21 AM  
Blogger iluvnyc said...

wow... so how many languages are you fluent in?

5/12/05 3:08 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

..sorry, I'm a lousy typist...I meant "southern".

5/12/05 3:21 AM  
Blogger DCveR said...

Well, janet, now that you mention it, I've got a friend whom I usually call "Miss Alabama" (where she's from), who's accent is just like the southern characters on TV...

5/12/05 10:16 AM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

Val, if you speak American you have a TWANG.

I try to imagine Dcver speaking English :-)

5/12/05 11:55 AM  
Blogger cream said...

Viking, Japanese and Portuguese! That's great!
I worked in an Italian restaurant and learnt a bit of the lingo. I asked one of the chef what kind of accent I had. He said that I sounded Sardinian!

Janet, do you mean like JR in Dallas?

Val, Nice to know that the American are polite. The British are quite polite on the whole. London is not really the best example of a British city!

Iluvnyc, I speak English, French and Arabic but I can understand Italian, Spanish and Greek.

Yes, GG, do you think DC speaks English with a Scottish accent?

5/12/05 1:14 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

No, the Texas accent is a little different.To me a South Carolina (and Ala.) accent is soft and lilting( think..southern belle), and hopefully what DCvers'friend has.Although it seems to be overdone on T.V....I guess what I was thinking of is the one that makes all southern people sound like backwoods, uneducated hicks!

5/12/05 10:15 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Janet, can you point out a film character that has one of those accents so that we can hear the voice.

5/12/05 11:09 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

"languages are like bus passes. The more you have the further you will travel."

I love this!

I'd like to learn Spanish. French would be more appropriate and beneficial considering I live in Canada, but I'm drawn to Spanish for some reason. Perhaps I'll learn both.

If we decide to stay living in town, I have a friend that teaches Spanish night classes and she has offered to teach me for free. I'd like to take her up on it.

6/12/05 3:39 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Penny, you are lucky to have a Spanish speaking friend. Take her up on the offer! Don't wait!
And then, once you've learnt Spanish, French will become quiet easy to pick up!

6/12/05 5:04 PM  

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