I came to Canada prepared for Celsius. I came to Canada prepared for Tim Horton’s. I even came to Canada prepared to hear Nickelback. I came to Canada, however, not at all prepared to be told that I had a Chicagoan – excuse me, I mean Chicaaaaagoan, eeaaaccent.
The first few months I brushed it off. South Park had taught me that all Canadians were delusional and had no idea what they were talking about. “I speak perfect English!” “You're adopted!” and “Well I hope your stupid Flames lose the game tonight” were my usual replies to people who dared to make these slanderous and treacherous accusations.
But it hasn’t stopped. The remarks, teasing mimics (“Stay “staff rates” again, Rose! Steeaaaaaaaaff”), and looks of skepticism that flash across people’s faces when I insist that my pronunciation is normal have only grown exponentially over time. Usually I just get it from co-workers but I think today was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I walked into Starbucks and ordered an Americano and allegedly pronounced it more as “Ameri-ke-anne-o” rather than “Ameri-cahn-o”. The new girl behind the counter flashed me a smile and asked me if I was from the Midwest.
“Fuck! No. I mean yes. Well sort of. I’m a Chinese-American US citizen from Maryland but I live in Chicago and I work in Calgary on the weekdays.” …I always have no idea what to say when people ask me where I’m from so I just blurt out my life story. Then it’s awkward.
But, I digress. I’ve never had an accent my entire life, except for maybe when I was five and first moved to the states. Growing up, there wasn’t really such a thing as a Maryland accent. I remember absolutely LOATHING Chicagoan accents when I first came to the UofC. I thought all Midwesterners sounded inbred and that I, with my parents-who-were-not-cousins, spoke in such a superior and sophisticated tongue by comparison.
But now that I think about it, I can’t even discern those nasally, drawn-out As anymore. I can't remember the last time I've paused or been annoyed from hearing a distinctly Chicagoan way of pronouncing something. I guess I too have become inbred, maebe.