Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cultural Cringe

I read in the Sydney Morning Herald online today that a new Tourism Australia campaign is expected to unleash torrents of cultural cringe. The ad will appear internationally as below except in Malaysia and Singapore where it will ask only 'Where are you?'.

I don't like the ad but it's nothing worse than the Tourism Australia ones that already run here in the UK. And it's not just tourism ads that portray the remarkably unhilarious stereotype. Australia is used to sell everything from shampoo to car insurance.

I could forget about the ads except that people keep telling me I don't sound Australian. What they really mean is "you don't sound like the people on the 'Sheila's wheels' adverts". It even came up when I first met the boss of the language company I am doing the tutoring work for, 'You know, your accent really isn't that bad. The only thing that gives it away is that you say "I guess" instead of "I suppose". Can you do an English accent by the way?'.

Hmm... I have started using 'suppose' but I would never put on an English accent to teach. If I did I guess it would be 'I s'pose' anyway.


dimsumdolly said...

so we get the toned down version of the ad. this is SO bloody Singapore govt style!

joe said...

hehe... I mentioned that especially for you. To be fair, the article said that the 'clean version' would be used in Sg, Malaysia and some other parts of Asia so I guess it's the decision of Tourism Australia.

Frau Schinkeldinkeleinmeister said...

Ven my alter ego vent to England her friend's familie said to her "Your akzent is ferry posh for an Australian" and "You don't sound like ze people on Neighbours". Should she take diss as a kompliment or not?

By ze vay, zair is a famous "Australian" fudge shop in ze Nezerlands dat has fudge viss aboriginal designs on dem and an "Australian" ice-cream chain in Belgium. I don't really understand ze konnektion.

joe said...

That's a good question. I used to feel flattered but now I've since wised up. Most English people (I guess this would be the same for Americans) can't distinguish between accents from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Very few people imagine that there could be variation of accent within those countries either. So a suitable response might be, 'That's funny, I was just thinking that you don't sound like the people on "East Enders" either'.

If they do sound like the people on East Enders, however, you need to take a different approach. I suggest smiling and saying 'Really? I suppose my accent has changed a little in England'. Try to restrict sarcastic tone.

Because stereotypes about accent are so terrible, right?

Frau Schinkeldinkeleinmeister said...

Yes, dat is right! I do not vant people to stereotype my akzent!