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AIBU to be offended by my colleague's bluntness?

(51 Posts)
ElaYar Tue 23-Apr-13 22:10:25

A bit of a background - I'm Polish, have been living in Germany with my English DP for the last 12 years. We speak English at home. I'm fluent in German but I'm unfortunately unable to get rid of my accent. I have just started a new job where I met a woman with whom I had this conversation today:
She: "So where do you originally come from?"
Me: Poland, but I've been living here for the last 12 years..
She ( eyes wide open): Really? So long? And you still have such a strong accent? Does your family speak German?
Me: Nope, I speak English at home with my DP.
She: I could tell straight away.. Strange. I had a roommate once who was
Polish and after just three
years you couldn't tell she
was a foreigner.

What do you think? AIBU to be offended by her choice of words? I really make an effort to learn German, my grammar is good, I just have the bloody accent. My DP found it amusing, I am still confused... I mean she really did not have to rub it in with this remark about her genius roommate..

soverylucky Tue 23-Apr-13 22:12:03

Ignore her - really. Loads of people keep their accents for many years after they have left a place - look at Cilla Black.

WandaDoff Tue 23-Apr-13 22:14:05

She probably didn't mean to upset you, it sounds like she was just making small talk.

I am in awe of you being able to speak 3 languages fluently. I can barely manage english blush

BobblyGussets Tue 23-Apr-13 22:14:06

She's just jealous. I am too, but in a nice, admiring way. You speak three languages, all fluently. What second or third language does your colleague speak? Does she speak "Fuckwit" or "Gobshite"?
Don't take any notice of her.

It is amusing, only becuase she was being a sour puss and you really don't have to worry about what she thinks.

But your colleague is German, right? I was under the impression Germans aren't known for beating about the bush.

squoosh Tue 23-Apr-13 22:15:06

I haven't lived in my home country for ten years. I still have my original accent, in fact I don't really udnerstand how some people can change their accent so easily. Is it a conscious decision?

I don't see why you'd want to lose your accent.

squoosh Tue 23-Apr-13 22:16:15

You are the Cilla Black of Poland OP.

Sorry about that wink

AprilAndFrank Tue 23-Apr-13 22:17:53

I think it's lovely when people keep their accents. I met a French girl who lived in Australia, she spoke perfect English and I could have listened to her for hours smile

TheCraicDealer Tue 23-Apr-13 22:18:03

You could've said, "she must've been very impressionable. I imagine if she read Treasure Island she'd develop a limp".

I admire you for speaking three languages fluently, that's pretty cool.

RevoltingPeasant Tue 23-Apr-13 22:18:15

'Yes, it's interesting how accents work. What about you - do you have a really strong accent when you speak Polish? Oh-you don't speak it? Do you speak any foreign languages fluently? Oh.'

LadyKinbote Tue 23-Apr-13 22:18:39

I think she was rude but don't let it bother you, just tell yourself how exotic your accent makes you sound compared with her boring old genius flatmate! grin

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 23-Apr-13 22:19:44

Are you in the North? That would pass for pleasant conversation around here....smile

Ignore, she probably is a bit mad meant nothing by it and even if she did, its not worth your energy to get upset by it [snile]

emsyj Tue 23-Apr-13 22:19:50

PILs have a neighbour who is French, but who has lived in their street with her English husband (who cannot speak French) for over 30 years. She still sounds 101% French - very very strong accent. However, her English is perfect. I don't see that it's an issue if you have a Polish accent unless it makes it hard for people to understand you when you speak German.

My DSis lived in Italy for several years. Her landlady used to have both of us falling over laughing by speaking Italian in an English accent - it was hilarious. She couldn't speak a word of English but had the accent down to a tee. It doesn't sound that funny written down.... Maybe you had to be there. blush

I only commented to DH yesterday that one of our drivers still has a really strong Scottish accent despite living in Cheshire for eons. I love accents and you should be proud of yours.

Salmotrutta Tue 23-Apr-13 22:20:26

German people are just very blunt though.

They wouldn't see a problem with saying that (well, none of the Germans I've known over the years anyway) at all.

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 23-Apr-13 22:21:57

Oh yes of course,sorry, you are in Germany not northern England. Doh.

<puts reminder for eye test in diary>

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Tue 23-Apr-13 22:21:57

She is flattering herself that even though others can't tell, she can 'tell straight away' this is all about her seeing herself as 'astute' - nothing to do with her friend, or your accent.

I think she thinks you have a strong 'foreign' accent, and thought your german sounded english-tainted or just different. I bet her surprise was that you weren't english not that you were Polish.

If it comes up again, tell her that its not a surprise about her friend- most people you know well seem to have no accent to you, even if to others they sound really spanish or whatever.

Tell her its amazing that she can tell that you speak english at home, and have some polish pronunciation, and that mostly people never notice! Tell her that noone notices your accent(s) unless they are polish people who have lived in England - she will think SHE is a genius.. then say, probably because you understood your friend so well, you have an ear for polish and that you feel comfortable talking to her as a result.

This is ALL about her wanting to tell you about the international people she has known and to get you to ask her where she has travelled to.

I think being with English DP has made you paranoid about others judging you.. that is SO eeenglish!! smile

Bunbaker Tue 23-Apr-13 22:22:00

I am from Surrey but have lived in Yorkshire for over 30 years. I would never be mistaken for a local with my accent.

HollyBerryBush Tue 23-Apr-13 22:24:19

I'm amused. I'm 48, born in the UK, schooled here, I still have my parents accent

mercibucket Tue 23-Apr-13 22:26:17

sounds v german

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Tue 23-Apr-13 22:26:57

Youse are aw shite ya cunts.

ZZZenagain Tue 23-Apr-13 22:27:22

read that Cilla Black could switch the accent on and off, totally contrived

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Tue 23-Apr-13 22:28:27

<cough> I mean, 'I delight in your slightly disruptive contribution to this person's very real concerns. Making light is amusing, but watch yourself you don't offend.' <cough>

AvrilPoisson Tue 23-Apr-13 22:28:38

My BIL left France 30 years ago, but still has a french accent!

what's wrong with having an accent anyway?.... Rude bloody madam. That said I'm desperately trying to imagine what speaking German with a Polish accent sounds like... I've often wondered what english speakers accent comes across as in other languages. I bet we don't sound as cool as Polish speaking English, or French speaking English, or Italians or French. Apparently speaking English with a Geordie accent to a friend who was Israeli (and spoke Hebrew) sounds like we are swallowing the last half of a word.... confused

Jinsei Tue 23-Apr-13 22:30:18

I haven't lived in my home country for ten years. I still have my original accent, in fact I don't really udnerstand how some people can change their accent so easily. Is it a conscious decision?

No, not in my case, it isn't conscious at all. I think some people just pick up more easily on other people's accents. I don't know why, but it's nothing to do with being a genius and it isnt the result of hard work either. It can be quite embarrassing actually. blush

I know that I'm very good at picking up accents in foreign languages because I'm often mistaken for a native speaker on the phone. However, I do it English as well. If I'm with someone with a strong accent for long enough (regional or foreign!) I start to mirror it. It isn't deliberate, and sometimes I have to concentrate really hard so as not to do it, in case they think I'm taking the piss. blush

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Tue 23-Apr-13 22:31:24

I went out with a French person once - I can nearly remember how to say 'oh yeah, fuck jesus, oh fuck, shit, god yes, that is brilliant, I am right inside you right inside you and YESSSSSS!' smile I didn't know he was french until er the appropriate moment! smile

MmeThenardier Tue 23-Apr-13 22:31:33

"i like my accent, just the other day your husband was saying how sexy it is"

ivykaty44 Tue 23-Apr-13 22:33:02

Nothing to do with this really but I was in Amsterdam and met a Dutch man who spoke English very well with a Scottish accent - it was lovely and such a good Scottish accent smile

Just wanted to say

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Tue 23-Apr-13 22:33:27

wow.. mirroring.. that might be why after a pause in a conversation with a (Eire) Irish person I felt self conscious and said 'dat'll be roight, to be sure'.

The silence didn't get any more comfortable! grin

Lazyjaney Tue 23-Apr-13 22:34:23

You should see what the Dutch are like! Are you in North Germany? Austrian friends tell me that the farther north you go the less sense of humour or tact there is smile

DontSHOUTTTTTT Tue 23-Apr-13 22:36:46

Accents are cool smile. Be proud of yours.

Tell the rude lady that you may not have learnt to speak without an accent but that you have learnt to speak without being rude.

piprabbit Tue 23-Apr-13 22:36:59

I had never lived in my dad's home town. I haven't even lived in the same house as dad for 15 years. But people can still spot his accent in mine, strongly enough to ask me if I come from dad's home town.

IloveJudgeJudy Tue 23-Apr-13 22:37:00

Yep, agree with the others. It's just her being German. They are blunt like that (have lived in Hamburg - very north!)

ElaYar Tue 23-Apr-13 22:38:15

Thanks for your replies. I'm feeling much better now - I guess I was a bit angry with myself as well for not being able to come back at her with a witty, suitably stingy comment wink- now I have plenty of those to choose from grin

Jinsei Tue 23-Apr-13 22:38:16

grin Yohed, you may joke, but I honestly struggle with this! It doesn't help that my DH has quite a strong accent and I spend quite a lot of time with him and other people from his country. I have to consciously remind myself not to speak to them in "their" accent, and I do sometimes forget.

Years ago, I spent a lot of time with a close friend from Australia, and everyone thought I was australian for a while. blush

Dubjackeen Mexico Tue 23-Apr-13 22:52:23

I have a Polish colleague, and I could listen to him for hours. He has the most perfect English, and I love his accent.
I am Irish, and honestly we don't all say things like faith and begorrah, and top o the mornin' wink as I sometimes often see suggested here. FWIW, I know I have the accent of my own particular county, and people do comment on it. I am proud of my county, and I don't mind when people comment on it. I will never try to change it. IMHO there is nothing worse than contrived accents.
Getting back to the OP, I am in awe that you have at least three languages. I mean that in an admiring way. Take no notice of your colleague.

YohedYoshoulderYonisandYotoes Tue 23-Apr-13 23:14:54

s'alright, I do this a bit too .. I had a conversation with a posh bloke and a londoner (east end) once and my accent shifted as to whose point I was answering - they thought I was crazy! Bjork does it too - but with her it is whether her head is in the country - if she tells a story about clubbing in london, its in a london accent, if she is talking about iceland, her accent is icelandic and if about america, then american - this can happen in the same conversation with her! grin

Jinsei Tue 23-Apr-13 23:27:34

grin Glad I'm not the only one!

TigerSwallowTail Tue 23-Apr-13 23:47:08

I don't think she sounded rude at all, although I'm forever being told by my DP that I'm very blunt and I need him to tell me when I'm being rude otherwise I wont realise, so maybe my opinion isn't the best here. But don't feel bad about having an accent, it gives you character, and being able to speak 3 languages fluently is incredibly impressive!

WorraLiberty England Tue 23-Apr-13 23:50:29

I'm an accent whore grin

I only have to spend a week in Spain on holiday and I come home speaking broken English?? blush

I lose all the connectives and simple sentences like, "Would you like salad with your dinner?"

Turns into, "You want salad with dinner?"

Hippee Wed 24-Apr-13 00:09:23

Whenever I am in France people say "You sound just like Jane Birkin" - i.e. I speak French with an English accent (doh!) - it's a slightly nicer way of being told though!

Sorry, I would probably have said what she said. blush

I love accents and it wouldn't occur to me someone might think I was trying to be rude, though of course I see it when you put it like that.

Unless she's a wee bit unthinking, she can't seriously think if you speak English at home and are first-language Polish, that you will have huge amounts of spare time to perfect your German accent too.

allaflutter Wed 24-Apr-13 00:14:39

There are very few people who manage to lose their native accent, especially if from a different country, but even regional ones (Cheryl Cole couldn't adapt to US accent at all and they couldn't understand her) and to an extent social UK ones too. it's impossible to erase it altogether unless possibly you've done some serious drama training.
Even then, people who can do away with their original accent, really slip when stressed or emotional, as it has to be controlled. You also may be good at changing accents, if you have exceptional musical ear and sing well (not Cheryl then grin).
It's amazing how some people can praise you for your great English and understand easily, while others keep asking to repeat. I find that most Kent people struggle with understanding foreigners who speak good English with accents, maybe because their own is quite strong.

GreenEggsAndNichts Wed 24-Apr-13 00:21:18

Sounds very German. DH is German, I've lived there, I don't have much else to say but .. sounds very German. smile Don't take it too personally.

My father still has a slight dutch accent even though English has been his primary language for over 20 years.

And apparently I have a dutch accent when I speak German even though I haven't spoken dutch fluently since I was 5 grin

Accents are wonderful, they're part of our identity. Be proud of your accent and even prouder that you speak so many languages fluently smile

allaflutter Wed 24-Apr-13 00:27:50

sorry, 'most' Kent people was the wrong thing to say, I meant quite a few.

PicardyThird Wed 24-Apr-13 00:30:27

She's German. They're blunt. grin Lived here over a decade myself.

And what allaflutter said. I have very little obvious accent day to day but it shows through when I am stressed or tired. And my Rs still let me down. I can only manage a German R when singing, funnily enough.

Ouchmyhead Wed 24-Apr-13 00:34:39

I'd be annoyed at what she said too, but maybe it was just a genuine mistake and it was a foot-in-mouth moment (we all have then!)

My parents are from Liverpool but haven't lived there for 13 years, they still have the accent - I still pick it up when I visit! It's just how people are! Be proud of your accent, who cares if you have your polish accent, you are Polish! I met a friend who was from Italy and has been living over here for about 6 years, she is in Liverpool and although she speaks perfect English she still has her Italian accent, I think it makes her voice sound really pretty.

LeoandBoosmum Wed 24-Apr-13 00:38:45

Soverylucky... No use quoting Cilla Black. She's supposed to come from Liverpool and doesn't sound remotely like anyone I've ever heard! I've lived in Liverpool for thirty plus years and have never heard her accent! confused Nor have I ever heard a Scouser use the words 'chuck' or 'lorra, lorra'... She's a fraud! grin
OP: I don't think she meant any offence but it was a bit gauche... Don't worry about your accent or try to change it...it's part of what makes you you and more interesting smile

Branleuse Wed 24-Apr-13 07:10:53

my dp has lived in England since 1999 and has a really strong French accent even though he's fluent in English. he's never tried to lose it and why on earth should he. it's nice. it's his voice.

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