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Sandydog's avatar

Do you alter the way you talk to different people?

Asked by Sandydog (1263 points ) January 13th, 2010 from iPhone

What I mean is that I work in England but come from Scotland and speaking naturally have a very strong Scottish accent.
I find I only speak totally natural when speaking to other Scottish people down here, nearly always altering things slightly to make sure Im understood – although that doesnt always work.
When In Kentucky a few years ago staff at McDonalds asked me to repeat my order so that they could hear my accent – and then asked me to repeat it slowly so they could get it right. I wasnt offended as I found it a bit amusing.

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24 Answers

Snarp's avatar

Well, I don’t exactly do a different accent, but I do tend to fall into the rhythms, patterns, and intonation of the people I am around. I also will pick up their idiosyncratic phrases and use them in conversation with them. So to my ears I sound like a completely different person depending on who I am talking to. And then I wonder if they are doing the same thing to some extent, and if we are all doing it, then what do we sound like in the absence of other people? What is our authentic sound? Do we even have one?

ucme's avatar

Why nor, av nee idea wot ya tarkin aboot man. Al put nee airs n graces on for nee bugger. Tak is as ye find is why aye man.

Sandydog's avatar

LOL ucme. Slange !!

stump's avatar

I live in the region where I grew up, so I don’t have the occation to use a different dialect. But I do talk differently when I am at work form when I am at home or with old college friends. I think it is natural to switch to the style of language that is appropriate for the situation, and when I am with old friends, I feel a part of me relax that usually is on it’s guard. It’s not something I do consciously. Is that similar to what you are talking about?

ucme's avatar

@Sandydog A ye takin the piss or summat. A tark like this arl the time bonnie lad. Ar divan na, the cheek a some gadgies~

Cruiser's avatar

Well by god man, do ye think i’m fookin’ jesoos? <<Sean Connery Accent>>

Lightlyseared's avatar

Yes. I want to know that people understand what I am saying to them. If that means changing my vocabulary, speaking more slowly or repeating things then so be it.

Sandydog's avatar

@stump. Yes you’ve got it exactly.
When I talk to my brother on the phone I talk in my natural mode without thinking about words im using

Buttonstc's avatar

I pretty much speak to everyone the same way regardless of where I am.

Even when dealing with children, I don’t do that high voice singsongy thing unless it’s with a really young baby.

When dealing with kids who are verbal, I don’t talk down to them. Kids are very straightforward. If I’m using a word they’re unfamiliar with, they’ll just come out and ask. That’s how they learn. I don’t see any need to patronize them by talking as if they can’t understand basic English or more advanced words or concepts.

The only exception is with my pets. Then I do the higher voice thing. I have no idea why except that they seem to pay attention better :)

JLeslie's avatar

Yes. When talking to my parents I am more NY, when talking to my friends in MI a little more midwest, here in the south I say y’all :). It is natural to mimic the person you are speaking with to some extent, including accent, rythm/cadence, even gestures.

These is why I was annoyed when they accused Hillary Clinton of being artificial when she spoke in Arkansas she had a southern accent, in NY she drops it, etc. She did grow up in the midwest, go to school in the northeast, and live in the south for years. All of her accents are geniune.

eeveegurl's avatar

Yes. I’m in Hong Kong where Cantonese is the local language, so when I have to speak English to someone I know won’t understand it if I were to speak it normally, I “dumb it down” to ensure I’m getting my message across. I do the same to my mom (to a lesser extent), and also ask her if she understood certain phrases that I use. Occasionally, I’ll use harder phrases with her because I know she’s picking up more English the more I use it, and I actually have the patience to explain things to her if she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t ask very often, but I can’t tell by the sound of her “mmhmm” that she didn’t really know what I was talking about.

With my extremely American friends, I sound all American, too, and have fooled a many into believe that I’m from the US. With my Asian-American friends (that are based in Asia as opposed to the US), I’ll throw in a few Chinese phrases in the midst of my English. Feels like it gives us something to bond over.

(I’ll admit that even though I can speak Chinese, if the salesladies are being particularly bitchy, I’ll speak English to them and force them to use a language I know they’re uncomfortable using. And then when actually paying for the product, I’ll switch to Chinese :D)

spiritual's avatar

Yes @Sandydog I find that I do have to alter my voice and slow down my speech, living in England and being from Belfast.
Have you ever been mistaken for being Irish? I have been mistaken for being Scottish!

Sandydog's avatar

@spiritual I HAVE been mistaken for Irish – how the heck I“ll never know as Im as Glaswegian as they come.
Have to admit that I once mistook some people from Lisburn as being Scottish – the accent from
there seemed to be very close to Scottish !!

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Everyone does, whether they admit it or not. Even if it’s just slightly.

Leanne1986's avatar

Yes, in my job I am constantly talking to customers both on the phone and face to face. For this I put on my “phone voice” which is basically a posher version of myself. My diction is clearer for example. In my everyday, talking to friends and family voice I speak with a slight Somerset accent. This comes a lot more natural to me.

PS. Where in Scotland are you from? I adore the Scottish accent.

Edit: Sorry, just read that you are a Glaswegian!

casheroo's avatar

If I spend any extended period of time with my relatives from Michigan, you would notice a change in how I speak. My accent pops out. My husband would not stop making fun of it when I got back from a trip because it definitely lingers.

CMaz's avatar

North East = Talk like a New Yorker.

In the South = Breaking out the redneck twang.

JLeslie's avatar

@casheroo Did you use pops out on purpose? Pop/soda LOL.

casheroo's avatar

@JLeslie lol, no not on purpose! I will say, my relatives call it pop and I call it soda…that never changes.

cyndyh's avatar

I do not speak to children the way I speak in a bar, and that’s a good thing. I’d never get my drink otherwise.

JLeslie's avatar

@casheroo I change it up usually…when in Rome.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Listen to yourself the next time you go to the local council office.

Then compare the way you talk with your friends in a social setting like the pub.

If anyone claims to not alter the way they speak relative to situation, they’re either lying or unaware of their language.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Yes. If I encounter rude or pushy people then I lower, soften and slow my speech. If I’m nervous or excited and with acquaintances or strangers then I also slow down my speech in order to not stumble or tranverse words in the sentences.

filmfann's avatar

It is natural for me to speak to someone, and begin using their accent.
Sometimes they think I am making fun of them, but I just seem to do that.
This became quite amusing to me when I was a long distance operator.

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