samedi, mai 01, 2010

across the pond


I've been at my job for almost 9 months now. In the office about 75% of the people working there are English, 24% French and me. Little old American me.
In the beginning it was interesting and fun to compare these differences between American and British language and humor. I've always had English friends and we've always had a blast, I've never felt any tension between Brits and Americans other than the brother/sister relationship of good natured teasing. But now I'm really starting to get fed up with references to me being American. I was hired because I speak English (and French), my own English, what I grew up speaking. I was not hired for my British culture or language and I refuse to change the way I speak. I know when in Rome but guess what, I'm not in Rome, I'm in France.
I admit, I have changed one word, yes, I have given in and write cheque instead of check. When on the phone with English customers I am clear, articulate and I know what I'm talking about - they understand me. With my colleagues I say pants, gas and I pronouce the "h" in herb.
I've recently had rude customers on the phone when after I admitted that I misunderstood what they were asking (not due to language differences, simply because there was a misunderstanding) say, "oh, that's OK, you're American." No joke, he was dead serious.
Why they have to nitpick everything I say because it is strange, weird sounding or different is beyond me. It's not like they have never heard an American accent. They all have English satallite TV at home, rather I should say they have American satallite TV because all the shows really are American anyway. They obviously understand American English and I am getting beyond annoyed with people teasing me (even if it is meant as good natured and not mean) for everything that comes out of my mouth. (I'm not even going to go into the comments they say about the French...)
In the 7 years I've lived in France I have not had as many rude comments for being American (even during the Bush years and "freedom fries", sorry "freedom chips") as I have had in the last 9 months at work.
Grow up people you obviously must be bored at work if the only thing you can think about to talk about all day is my accent.
Sorry, rant over but this has been getting under my skin for the last few weeks.

5 commentaires:

Megan a dit…

Hmm, I lived in England for 6 months (study abroad) so a slightly different atmosphere than you. I don't remember too much teasing. And I didn't consciously decide to keep or change words, some just came naturally after a few months.

kiwi in france a dit…

I don't think they are doing it on purpose but as you are the only American, there are no numbers to back you up so they get their kicks out of it. Have you told them it bugs you?

I've found that some people have a superiority thing going on - like the queens English is the correct English - especially with NZ English comprising a mixture of both British English and American English. Also the whole NZ was a colony of the Brits so we should be speaking their English.

When I was in England I got given heaps of crap when I said soccer (football), pants (trousers), chips (crisps - we also call fries chips in NZ, it gets confusing)... and how we pronounce e's as i's ("say ten" "what tin? I don't undersand". The whole joke over language differences did get old quickly for me, and not them.

I'm not sure I'd necessarily pick up on too many differences between AE and BE watching TV - I'm just enjoying the show! I know when I was there my boyf and his flatmates watched hardly any American shows on TV (and we watched a lot!) - I switched over to the American channels when they went to work.

Maybe just say to them - yes, I'm American, I speak American English and I'm going to continue speaking it this way. Good luck!

Ksam a dit…

Rant away lady, we've all done it now and again! :)

Amber a dit…

My office is the same dynamic, except the french people I work with have also lived in the UK or have one Brit parent so they frequently side with each other.
I find that the most intelligent colleagues that I have recognize that there are similarities and differences for a reason and we can discuss them from an academic perspective which is nice. I try as much as I can to just brush off the rest of the comments.
I've been teaching some of my (English) colleagues' children and the mother told me that her little girl started talking like me and she immediately had to correct her. That did offend me.. personally, if my future baby comes home using British words, I'll just be thrilled that he/she actually speaks English and will explain that there's another way to say it in the US. That's all. But maybe that's because i'm not too proud to admit that English is a varied and changing language and neither way is right or wrong.

Emmy a dit…

i'm pleased you've written a post, even if it is to rant! Welcome back!

it makes me laugh that that person who commented that you are American is using an English speaking service in France. Really?! Like, why are they in France in the first place? That could make a great put down line, even if it never leaves your head!