I have lived in England for almost eight years. I embrace and use British English in my daily life but I don’t have a British accent.
I’m not one of those Americans that attempt to affect a British accent, but instead sound scary and frankly ridiculous. I’m also not naturally susceptible to accents. Yes, my intonation has changed and I say isn’t it and doesn’t it rather than ask a question outright (this used to annoy me but I’ve succumbed!) but all in all the sound of my voice is still pretty much intact with my American roots.
I’m happy about this. I see my voice as one of my key identifying factors. My accent represents the American at my core and I don’t want to let that go.
I’ve always viewed British English as another matter. I live in England and want to fit in. In my daily life, say pavement, not sidewalk; bin, not garbage; rubber; not eraser; hob not burner. I also love British slang – strop, leary, cheers, gutted, slapper, chuffed, manky, broody….what great, colorful words and at such a wider variety than their American equivalents.
Conversely, when I’m in the States or talking to Americans I revert to American English. (That’s why this blog is a splattering of British and American English.) I naturally adjust my vocab depending on my audience. This may sound bizarre but it works for me and usually, but not always, avoids people from both sides of the pond commenting on my use of language.
LLC on the other hand, will sound British. She was born in England after all and I’m certain her voice will be a product of her surroundings and I think this is only right. When she does start to speak, however, I’ll just have one request: I want to be a mommy and a mom, not a mummy and a mum. British English I do embrace but like my voice, I identify being a mother with my own roots and want to be a mommy to LLC as my mom was a mommy to me. I wonder what LLC will have to say about this when she actually starts to speak?!