I taught English in France some twenty years ago and remember the disappointment when the English teachers at Collège Jean Lurçat in Angers saw that their living, breathing native English speaker was from the Midwest instead of Oxford. Disappointment led to outright opprobrium when I counted by tens for a class of bored middle schoolers: “ten, twendy, therdy, fordy”. At “fordy” the teacher, a former French officer during the Algerian war who later stunned me by singing Thriller in front of his class as if it were a military march, forcing students to sing along, stopped me and corrected my pronunciation: it wasn’t “fordy” but “forty”. By the time I got home, after a year and a half of speaking French most of the time and English in class with a fake British accent, I sounded like a failed Henry Higgins project: imagine Eliza Doolittle on crack. For years people would ask me where are you from?


My accent has long since lost the after effects of my time in France (and attitudes toward the American accent have changed), but the point is I gave it my best! Stiff upper lip and all that! As Americans, we can say “thirty” if we really try, can’t we? Which brings me to my point. I listen to the BBC News Hour and have recently started hearing “president-elect Obamer”. Okay, the Beatles said “sawr” and “idear” and it was cute, but “Obamer”? It sounds like an industrial glue or something to keep your dentures in place. I think that, if they make an effort, British news reporters will find that they can say Obama for the next four years. In exchange, I’ll try and develop a taste for Marmite








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