I really do not understand why so many people this summer have assumed I am Australian. It’s one thing to be unsure and ask, it’s even ok to guess and get it wrong but why do people insist on making casual references to Australia in conversation, leaving me utterly confused and feeling as though I have to almost apologise to them for the fact that they have jumped to the wrong conclusion? One such offender decided to strike up conversation with me by asking why did I decide to leave Australia? Of course I set him straight and said “I’ve never been to Australia but if I had, I’m not sure I would have ever left!” Naturally, he was a little red-faced.
To me as a Brit, the difference between an Australian accent and a British one is overwhelming. I would never have believed, prior to moving to Canada, that any native English speaker could possibly confuse the two. The first time I encountered this strange phenomenon was in Ontario where I was watching a film (movie for all you North Americans)with a friend who asked me “Is that guy Australian or British?” I honestly thought he was having a laugh! He went on to explain that he genuinely had trouble distinguishing bewteen the two and thought we all sounded the same! Un-bloody-believable!
Similarly, why do people assume that I know every other British person they have ever met in Canada or their friend, John Smith, who also lived in Bristol…once? I know Canada has a relatively small population and you run into people you know literally everywhere. I’m not even kidding, I have bumped into Winnipeg colleagues in Montreal, and friends of friends in Southern Ontario. This just doesn’t happen in England. We don’t even know our next-door neighbours!
And don’t even get me started on people who think they can do a British accent. Please don’t humiliate yourself; you really can’t…. actually, you my friend sound Australian!