say it again

pink background with speech bubble
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on

say it again, say it again,

say water, listen to her say water,

my voice comes out

in a wondrous string

of english syllables

met with a wall

of gleeful laughter,

they love that sound,

they’ll never get bored.

I have nearly always lived in the south of England so I feel like I have quite a boring voice. There’s no distinctive Scouse twang or Geordie lilt. There is nothing that sets me apart from the people that I work and live with; not vocally anyway.

However, there was a year and a half back in the early naughties when I lived in South Africa, and for once in my life, I was different. I remember working in a bar and all of the other waitresses would ask me to say ‘please can I have a glass of water’ over and over.

They would then laugh and look at me wide eyed, as though I had just landed from a new planet. It was a very strange experience, but one that I actually quite liked.

I really enjoyed feeling different. I liked it when customers stopped me and asked me where I was from and then seemed impressed. Back then, everyone wanted a British passport so it was quite the magnet for South African boys!

I don’t understand why people would ever get upset about their differences and I keep thinking that maybe I should move up north so that I can sound ‘dead posh’. Maybe I’m just craving some attention after being stuck in a tiny radius for so long.

For me, accents are the most amazing thing and we are so lucky to have such varying accents within the UK. I just miss the travels within my country and hearing all the lovely different people. One day I dream of meeting a Scottish person in their natural habitat. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Much Love

Rachel xx

6 thoughts on “say it again

  1. Margot Kinberg

    I know what you mean about accents and ways of speaking. I find those differences fascinating. I like learning about where people are from, too, and trying to see the world as they see it. Not that I want them to be objects of curiosity, because that would be condescending, but because I want to learn, if that makes sense.

  2. clcouch123

    Your poem describes the situation wonderfully for the audience and I hope for the speaker. In the prose, I can appreciate being different and having it go positively, as differences should go. I guess in the USA the most dramatic difference in accents is between north and south. I was born in the south but finishing growing up in the north. Now I have family north and south. Most of the time when people guess where I’m from, it’s England.

  3. Greg Dennison

    I think accents and regional variations in speech are fascinating. I was explaining to someone younger once, who thought that our speech here in the western US was “normal,” about how from the perspective of anywhere else, we sound different. For example, to us the words “cot” and “caught” are pronounced exactly the same, but to someone from the northeastern US they sound different (their “cot” sounds the same as both words out here; the vowel in “caught” is missing from my regional accent). She said that makes so much sense, with how the words are spelled.

    I also find regional place name pronunciations fascinating. Natives of Nevada pronounce the first A like the A in “bad” or “cat” (are those the same vowel to you? They are throughout the US, as far as I know), but people from the eastern US often pronounce Nevada with the first A like the A in “far” or “father.” That is considered incorrect by locals, even though it is closer to the original Spanish pronunciation. And Lancaster, California and Lancaster, Pennsylvania are pronounced very differently; the first one is pronounced like two separate words, like if you said “pan caster” but with an L instead of a P, whereas the second one (which is the older town) is pronounced closer to the British Lancaster, with the first syllable like “blank” without the B, but fully pronouncing the R on the end of the word.

    And in the southeastern US, Beaufort, North Carolina (“bo-furt”) is pronounced differently from Beaufort, South Carolina (“byoo-furt”), even though they are in neighboring states (although still 300 miles apart).

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