It did quite well. The Scots English was rather interesting.
When I hear RP, it seems so fucking contrived to me. I’m sure there are people who speak with an RP accent “naturally,” but most RP accented speakers really get up my nose. They always seem to be the same pretentious gits who go to great pains to avoid using a prepostion at the end of any sentence, no matter how cumbersome or silly it sounds to do so. Just my observation.
That’s because we just are loud, I guess. A lot of people say we have a more nasal accent, too. Many Canadians I’ve known have said this; to me, Canadians sound just as nasal or more nasal than the average American. IMO, some Americans sound nasal, some do not. Saying that another speaker of your language sounds “nasal” seems to be meant as nothing more than an insult (thus, I said the Canadians are nasal ). “Nasal” has nothing but negative connotations. Back to being loud. While I was studying in England, my mother came to visit me. I had been there for a while and had unconsciously adjusted my speech and volume so as not to attract too much attention to my superior American English . I remember being very uncomfortable when riding the tube with my mom because she was so loud. At first I didn’t even realize why I was uncomfortable. I eventually asked my mother if she had noticed that she was much louder than everyone else on the train.
I think there is a lot more variation in accents within Britain than in all of the U.S. It seems to me that immigrants to America did a lot more mixing than the classes in Britain, but I think there is now a lot of mixing in the UK, too. When I was a child, my mother would always criticize my English. She studied an English degree and she taught school for one year, so she thought she knew it all. However, she has always lived in the southern U.S. and she has a very heavy southern accent. She’s not a redneck and she speaks grammatically, but native English speakers from outside the states have difficulty understanding her. She still doesn’t understand why. My wife can’t get her at all. I think it’s a personality clash as well as the thick accent. My mother tries to talk like a polite little southern bell, whereas my wife is more direct. When they talk on the phone, I can just hear the tension building in my wife’s voice. My mother always starts with a bunch of small talk, whereas my wife prefers to cut through the small talk as quickly as possible and actually talk about whatever is on her mind.
Seeing herself as the Chief of the Language Police, my mother thought it was great when I told her I was going to study in England. “Oh, you’re going to go learn the Quain’s English.” Haha. I guess she assumed that everybody in Britain has a perfect RP accent or that they all speak like a grammar book. She was quite shocked when she visited and discovered reality. She didn’t even understand why someone from Scotland would have a different accent from a Londoner. “But they’re both British, so they should both have the same “British” accent, right?” Very good entertainment value, that was. A year or two ago, we watched that movie Gosford (sp?) Park, the one about a weekend party in a late Victorian mansion ; during the movie, you see the lifestyle of the upper class on one hand, and the life of the servants on the other. The dialogue was brilliantly done; lots of dialect. Well, mom couldn’t understand any of the dialogue, not even the conversations among the upper class people.
I have a few questions for the Brits here. I have almost never heard nor seen any American use the word “whilst.” We will just say “while.” I’ve noticed that some Brits use it all the time, but others never use it. Are students taught to write “whilst” in composition classes in Britian?
What about beginning a sentence with “firstly” instead of just “first,” as in "There are three reasons why Canadians should just stop pretending they are an independent country and unify with the U.S. Firstly, … " I think most teachers in the States would get really annoyed if a student used the word “firstly.” I have noticed some Brits use this a lot, while others never use it.
My last question for this post regards the word “query.” I don’t recall having heard or seen this word very often while I was in England. However, in Hong Kong I hear and see both Brits and HKers use it all the time. “Don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any queries.” What is wrong with the word “question?” Of course, the Chinese in HK love to use this word. I’ve seen students raise their hands in class when they don’t understand a lecture and say: “Excuse me sir, I have a query…” This usage of whilst, firstly and query seems so archaic to me. What do you Brits think?