Chameleon

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If I'm talking to someone I tend to start taking on parts of their accent and mannerisms. And if I've been reading someone that immediately shows under the skin of my writing. Does this happen to you? Good thing? Bad thing?

Tom, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

You haven't done it with me Tom.

Taking on parts of my accent and mannerisms that is.

Ooer missus etc.

Charley Patton Hawtrey, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

hell yeah. what's acceptable is that i actually have a regular geordie accent *if* you happen to catch me talking to a regular geordie. otherwise i'm bland london/estuary stylee. i so get a bit flustered sometimes cos it does sound like i'm taking the piss on occasions.

What is unacceptable is that i can feel myself being drawn to other accents (eg black countraaay) when i'm talking to someone with a strong accent. this is surely taking the piss -- i'm just not consciously doing it. some bastard bit of my id (or whatever) wants me to get in a fight and have the shit kicked out of me. bastard.

Alan Trewartha, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

imitation is what separates us from the beasts

mark s, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Not while I'm talking to them I don't think, but I do pick up otherpeople's mannerisms far too easily.

Graham, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I always notice my (quite extreme) chameleon tendencies when different groups of people I know are gathered together. I get very uncomfortable and realise it's nerves about fake mannerisms, differing accents and the cacophony of lies I've woven about myself. Urk.

chris, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I almost always start unconsciously imitating other people's accents after I've been talking to them for a while. Very embarassing it is too.

RickyT, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

imitation is what separates us from the beasts

does this mean i can start masturbating in public and rubbing my red baboon ass against windows?

jess, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Ye GODZ! A RED ARSED BABOON! We must capture this unique specimen and kill it immediately lest it pollute the gene pool and forever rid the world of the beautiful sight of blue baboon arses swollen and ready.

RickyT, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

bring it on, you sub-crocodile hunters, ye!

i r BABOON, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Linguists sometimes refer to a phenomenon they call 'accomodation'; a general label for speakers' unconscious adjustments to their own accent / vocabulary in a situation in which there are social or regional differences. Sometimes accomodation can act to reinforce perceived hierarchies (middle class housewife speaking extra-proper to the milkman); sometimes to reduce them / generally enable a non- confrontational situation (erm, everyone in the pub).

So in communication with someone I would say that what you describe is a) unavoidable and b) not a bad thing, since you're adjusting to get on with someone you like. In terms of reading and writing I suspect something different is going on, and that while probably equally unavoidable, it's not necessarily a good thing. But each to their own. Some people write surrounded by other books, others can only write when cut off from the written word to find their own voice.

alext, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

what do linguists who can spell call it alex?

mark s, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

unbelievably bored = pointlessly rude and snotty =>> sorry alex sorry everyone help me regain control of my runaway brane

mark s, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Yes, I talk less posh with people who are less posh so as not to get beaten up and called a poof. It has worked quite well so far. Well, the not getting beaten up part.

Ally C, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I thought Mark S was still smarting over not being told about Derrida and the hedgehogs.

Tom, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Now and again I hear people saying it pisses them off when people's accents soften depending on who they talk to, because it makes them seem ashamed of their roots, man. I can't help it - my accent slides. I went through a scouse-when-drunk period, which was quite amusing for my friends. I dunno, I studied foreign languages so for me, copying accents was always a good, grade-enhancing thing to do. I've been twice mistaken for an Italian by Italians and once for a French person by a French person, which is a nice head-swelling thing, so go mimick and accomodate to your heart's desire, I say.

Madchen, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

My accent is utterly fucked up. I've taken accomodation too far. I honestly cannot work out how I pronounce things. When I am nervous I end up talking northern ish. Why, I do not know. Living with Jews resulted in my use of fairly poor English syntax and verb mess (verb mess is a recognised linguistic term). I can be heard saying 'Do you got?' for 'have you got', which is stupid and wrong. I think I just prefer other people's voices to my own.

alix, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Of course, I was merely acccommmodating my spelling to the level of the board as a whole :-) When I get more of my books into this new office I'll be able to reveal the hidden Derrida hedgehog connection!

alext, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

A man in a Clapham bar asked me on Saturday if I was English after I had just said something to him. I think he was hoping I wasn't as then there would be less chance of me realising what a twat he was.

Emma, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Hell, yeah. When I was about 11, we had neighbours from Australia and neighbours from Texas. My mother could tell without asking me where I had been when I returned from visiting either set.

Accents are one thing I am really good at picking up, except I can't do Irish ones (my early teen Shaw fetish must be responsible). Send me to Glasgow and I will be saying 'brell-yunt' before the end of the first day. My Cockney/Estuary one is good too, as DG will testify as he got me started in a game of Easy Geezer the other day. Oddly, though, I've never had the Minnesota regional accent though my mother and sister have it BIGSTYLE. Nick C's dad is a linguist and I often wonder what he'd make of my weird smorgasbord voice; he would not be able to do a Higgins and stick a pin in a map that = me.

This skill is not without its uses. I tend to be more 'English' in taxis late at night to avoid American Tax.

suzy, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Someone once thought I was from Inverness! Crazy!

Ally C, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I am terrible at accents, and pretty secure in my own comprehensibility so no, actually, I probably don't do this very much.

Pete, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Hey Ally, me too!

Sarah, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

I don't think so, but I have an american friend and I see him picking up Irish phrases. Hearing someone say gobshite in an american accent is funny.

Ronan, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Adaptation is good thing. You wouldn't go to France and insist on your own accent. Or, ah, maybe you would. But the message would be clear: I don't like you. The same dynamic happens with regional variations and even personal language and flow I fink.

Tracer Hand, Monday, 19 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

Hi :) I would love somone try to copy my accent! That would be a treat! I doubt anyone can though. Gale

Gale Deslongchamps, Tuesday, 20 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

The only decent fiction writing I've done in the past year has risen to my mind immediately after reading oscar wilde. i don't think it sounds much like him, but he gets my imagination working with his fairy tales. GOOD THING.

Maria, Tuesday, 20 November 2001 01:00 (seventeen years ago) Permalink

seventeen years pass...

Baby Chameleons pic.twitter.com/SDCvQJVlcR

— 41 Strange (@41Strange) March 13, 2019

calzino, Wednesday, 13 March 2019 07:10 (two months ago) Permalink


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