Accents, and listening

Last night, a friend of mine posted a BBC Radio link on Facebook, called “A Tour of the British Isles in Accents.” We both found it interesting because of our  background as language students – plus, it’s less than a minute and a half, an added incentive for me to check it out.

I think I learned to listen – really listen – to the way people talk, when I was studying French as an undergraduate. Part of our “ear” training involved transcribing tapes of diverse speakers. Brigitte Bardot was one, and I believe there was also an elderly, toothless man from the south of France, as well as a hippodrome announcer.

The focus I honed in that classroom helped me years later as a reporter, when I interviewed people and covered events.

In the last couple of years, I’ve become a fan of Downton Abbey, and part of the appeal is just listening to the English accents. This morning, I found an interesting blog post about the accents in the show.

The BBC Radio link also brought to mind a scene from “Lucy Meets the Queen” – an episode of I Love Lucy – when Ethel explains to a British character that she and Lucy don’t understand English, because they’re American. I looked for the episode online, but couldn’t find one that would play in Canada. Sigh.