A Broad View | Issue 7
Pastor and McDonalds
I’ve never had much appreciation for the American accent, but that’s probably because I never thought to call it such. When you hear something spoken one way every day, you start to take its idiosyncrasies for granted. In other words, you simply don’t notice them.
“Aye, mate, wanna head to Macca’s?”
This is how my Kiwihost greeted me on our third afternoon together.
“Macca’s. Me ’n the boys are goin’ for pies, ’aven’t ya ’eva had one? They’re good on ya.”
Only “mate” had nothing to do with chess; “pies” weren’t the ones my Mom makes for Thanksgiving; and “Macca’s” (is that spelling even correct?) is just a Kiwi abbreviation for McDonald’s.
The following week there was the pasta/pastor debate …
“Do you say pasta or pahster?” my Kiwihost asked.
“Like the guy in church? Yeah, I say pastor.”
“No, we don’t eat pahster in church.”
“Well obviously not, you can’t eat the pastor …” I was beginning to think that Kiwis were a seriously deluded group.
It was only after the intervention of a third flatmate (or is it roommate?) that it became clear: he wasn’t talking about church and I wasn’t talking about spaghetti. Although I never considered my American accent, I now recognise that it’s been there all along. Pasta, as I pronounce it; pahster, as the Kiwis pronounce it; and pastor.
Will we ever be able to communicate fluidly? Who knows? But, in a way, that’s what’s special: the similarities and differences. The idea that language, dialects and accents are all a part of humanity, all a part of us, and at the end of the day all we really want is the ability to understand one another.
That, and McDonald’s.