Guest Post Sunday – Denise Mooney

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It’s 10 years since I migrated to this country, and I sometimes forget how many little Australian-isms I’ve added to my vocabulary.

Until I go back to Ireland and get blank stares when I say things like:

That’s such a rort!

You’ve got Buckley’s chance.

I was stoked!

I find that a little on the nose, to be honest with you sweetie.

Fair dinkum mate. How are youse going?

Just kidding. I’ve never said that last one.

I get a bit of a ribbing (oh look, there’s another one), when I do come out with these lines, but most of the time, I get away with it.

The real clincher comes when I meet Australians here in Melbourne who unwittingly question my Irish-ness.

To put this in context, I don’t have what you would call a strong Irish accent. I’m not from one of those counties where the accent cannot be deciphered outside of a 20 km radius (Cork and Kerry, I’m looking at you).

But still, I’ve always prided myself on my accent, and over the years I’ve grown used to people complimenting me on it.

Except every so often I’ll meet one of those people (who presumably only know Irish people from either Cork or Kerry), and they will say:

“Oh you can tell you’ve been here years, you’ve really lost your accent.”

And my jaw will drop, although I’ll make a joke of it and try not to look too upset.

This person will have no idea the devastation their comment has caused. I will be crushed. My accent is such a huge part of my identity that losing it doesn’t even occur to me.

All these years it’s been the one thing that makes me stand out in a sea of Aussies. It’s a small thing I know, but frankly, it’s all I’ve got.

On these occasions I rush home to my (also Irish) hubbie with a sob caught in my throat.

Do you think I’m losing my accent? I will ask tremulously. Do I sound Aussie now? Oh god, I can never go home again. They won’t let me back in without my accent.

To which he will reassure me along the lines of:

“Don’t worry love, you still sound like a complete bogger to me.”

Which makes me laugh and my anxiety is quelled, until the next time someone questions my heritage. And then I will start to worry all over again.

Of course it doesn’t help that said hubbie sounds like he got off a plane just yesterday. If anything his accent seems to be getting stronger with the passing years.

It’s so bad that I often have to act as interpreter when we go out, which can get old pretty quickly. He’s been here for 17 years, y’know, I feel like saying.

You might think I’m being a little hysterical about the whole thing, but I’ve been doing a little Googling research and I’m not the only one who thinks accents are important.

According to psychologists at the Friedrich Schiller University in Germany, a person’s accent is much more important than the way they look in terms of how they are judged.

Contrary to what you might think, Aussies are not always culturally sensitive about the Irish accent. If you’ve ever had to smile politely while some eejit mimicked “top o’ the morning” to you, in some kind of demented leprechaun parody*, you’d understand.

Still though, I’ll take all the Irish jibes you’ve got, as long as you admire my accent or at least pretend you can’t understand it.

I’ll be stoked if you do that, mate. You’ve got no idea.

How do you feel about your accent?

*This happens more often than you might think.

Denise-Mooney

When she’s not busy stressing about what she sounds like, or toddler wrangling, Denise can be found here, dishing out her much-sought after advice on writing, work and how not to sweat the small stuff (because clearly she’s an expert on that).