I have always been sensitive about my accent. The defining moment came when I was working in Guildford last summer, and I was asked by a superior where in Edinburgh I lived. This slight was so major that not only did I decide not to work for Detica, but actually never to work for any company ever. As such, it saw me continue the academic progression from a remarkably studious first year to an absurdly sociable Master's course.
All of which brings us up to the present day. When meeting people, there's proved to be a standard list of questions: what's your name, what are you studying, where did you come from? I figured, if I was going to be apologising for anything, it would be the middle of these—an assumption that has largely been borne out by eye-glazings, derisive chuckles or outright fear when I've spoken the words "High Performance Computing". Anyone who sticks around long enough to discover what that entails gets a breezy, "It's like Computing, but worse," and a sharp change of subject.
Four years as a computer scientist was adequate preparation for that. However, twenty years of living in Glasgow hasn't prepared me for people's reaction upon learning my home-town:
- "Really? Gosh, you don't have a very strong accent."
- "But I can understand every word you're saying!"
- "You can't be from Glasgow—you don't sound that bad!"
I think the conclusion is plain to see. A Glaswegian in Edinburgh is a member of a downtrodden ethnic minority. In a subconscious play for acceptance, I've clearly changed so much that on my trips to the City Restaurant, I'm no longer offered the auslander condiment of vinegar on my chips.
Clearly, then, a very grave situation. This post is a call out to other exiled weegies at Edinburgh to form a support group forthwith! We'll go to the pub, drink to excess, stop our glottals and start knife fights. If we can rally enough members, we'll move on to internecine rivalry in the second semester.