Accents are really funny things. Even a small country like England will have very different accents depending on whether you come from the South, close to London or up in the Midlands.
Canada is the same – especially with the Maritimes. When I first came to Canada I kept asking people if they came from Ireland. They were puzzled and replied “No – I come from Newfoundland.” Well – they sounded very Irish to me!
Sometimes however accents can really surprise you. I was strolling around the market in Jodhpur, India a couple of years ago. Narrow lanes filled with people, noises, smells, shouting and yet somehow a harmony throughout the whole thing.
Naturally being a group of North American tourists we were prime targets for wily salespeople and after a week or so in India we were all becoming a bit immune to this. But then I was approached by a young girl with literally hundreds of bead necklaces offering a handful of these for a few rupees – next to nothing in our money. She had such a sweet smile and although the other ladies in our group waved her away with a smile I weakened and looked at her beads. They were rather pretty. A lot like many of the African beads that would be sold in the markets of Swaziland where I had made my home before coming to Canada. So therefore they were not a novelty to me. But she was persistent and kept smiling.
Then she starting speaking and I stopped in my tracks. My goodness me – was that a tinge of Yorkshire accent that I was detecting? Or could it be Manchester? How very strange!
“Where are you from?” I asked – which was a bit of a stupid question seeing as she was selling beads in a market in Jodhpur dressed in a kurti. Really Lesley – sometimes I wonder.
But she gave me a dimpled smile and said (with that characteristic Indian head bobble) “I come from right here in Jodhpur, Ma’am”.
But I wasn’t satisfied and wanted to dig further. I asked her if she had ever been to England – no she hadn’t. Perhaps she had an English teacher at school. She had never been to school (broke my heart). Eventually I asked her who had taught her to speak English as I thought this would give me a clue.
“Why, Ma’am,” she answered laughing “I learnt as a small child from speaking to the tourists”. Well I never. Bright as a button and never a day’s schooling. What a shame.
I happily handed over a bunch of rupees and in return received 10 bead necklaces and then 2 extra because I was “so kind”. I still wear them today and often think of this merry little girl and hope she is able to make a future for herself. She deserves it.