Yojimbo

I was born in the 1950s in Glasgow so I am part of a generation who learned the language from parents born in the 1930s and grandparents born in the 1900s. As a result my early speech would be considered very broad Glaswegian by today’s standards. I was made acutely however aware from my earliest years of the undesirability of this accent by the same relatives who modelled it. Their good intentions ensured that I was careful to speak standard English at home in a way which would have invited utter ridicule amongst my school friends. Over time my speech became consistently more standard in terms although I retained my West of Scotland accent. This seemed to be a successful strategy until two incidents made me wonder. The first came in my early 50s. I visited a teaching camp for Spaniards learning English as one of the volunteer English coaches along with speakers from all over the English speaking world. At the end of the week one of my fellow attendees from Spain confessed that none of her compatriots wanted to be paired with me because I was too difficult to understand. I was more upset though to hear my fellow English speakers from North America, Australasia, Africa and even England itself agree that they found me equally unintelligible. I was quietly offended and dubious until I met my partner from Dumfries and Galloway a few years later, who proclaimed me ‘the most Glaswegian person’ she’d ever met. I highly doubt this however my attempts at standardising my accent clearly haven’t been as successful as I thought. I am at an age now, or I live in an age, where I no longer feel the need to change.

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