Did you ever notice that, no matter where you are from, you don't seem to think you have an accent, it is people from everywhere else that have one?
We get a lot of people at work who have accents. Some of them have emigrated here from other countries, some have moved to the area from different states, some are from other parts of the state. Generally, I don't have a problem understanding them.
Except for one patron. We call her 30 Cents. She left one day complaining about a fine, and on her way out the door said, "30 cents my ass!" but it sounded more like "ayh-us", like it was suddenly a two or three syllable word.
She is from the South somewhere. I don't know where -- somewhere deep in the South, would be my guess. I've traveled to a few different areas in the South, spoken to a lot of people at work from a lot of different places, and I have honest to God never heard anything like this accent. The heaviest, most fake Southern accent you have ever heard in a television show or movie has nothing on this woman.
30 Cents has now stumped 3 different staff members when trying to figure out what she was saying. We get it, eventually, but she usually has to repeat herself a few times.
I'll give you an example.
One time it sounded like she asked for books on lurlin. WTF is lurlin? Even Google was stumped on that one. After repeating herself a couple of times, for more than one staff member, she gave us more information. All we got out of it was that she wanted a book about Lurlin kerl dotter.
....blank looks all around.
Do you know what "lurlin kerl dotter" translates to? Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner's Daughter.
Where is this accent from? Does anyone recognize the phonetic spelling? I can't ask her as I will never understand the answer.
I have helped a patron where we were basically playing charades to get our point across, while he tried to speak English (his third language) and I dredged my high school French classes from my memory to help him get a library card (French was his second language). I have written copious notes back and forth with a deaf patron trying to explain her fines. My Espanol es mal, but it can work in a pinch. I have pulled up online translators in an attempt to help a man who only speaks Russian.
They all pale in comparison to 30 Cents. I think the most frustrating part is knowing that she is speaking English. She is from the same country and we can't understand a damn thing she is saying most of the time! It must be annoying to her as well.
(Is it wrong that I feel a tiny bit better because two other people also have had trouble understanding her?)