When my husband and I moved from Nebraska to the South (Arkansas) about four years ago, I took a job at a newspaper. I found that sources trusted me more — and more intuitively — if I spoke like the native Arkansans (well, that would be Arkansawyers if we’re talking about true natives, at least depending on who you ask).
I was careful to pronounce the place names correctly (which is not necessarily how phonics would have taught us), I developed a Southern drawl, and I intentionally used “y’all.” I was forced to speak more slowly, so people would simply understand me. It came easily, too.
I don’t think I was manipulating them; I still speak that way, even though I don’t have a job that requires it.
On the other hand, a friend moved to the UK last year, and she said she refrains from “speaking English” to get what she wants, because she’s an American and always will be.
A couple distinctions between the two scenarios: I moved here to stay, and my friend made a three-year commitment. I’m still in the same country, so while it was a shift of cultures, it was not a move that required a passport and a visa.
I haven’t had the chance to discuss this topic with her yet. I hope I will, though.
Just because I have adapted my speech to fit my current culture does not mean that I’ve lost my identity. And in reality, a person’s identity is in constant flux, isn’t it?
What do you think?