Hi, I’m David.
Chez, please, I’ve just started, could you please not interrupt just yet.
But your name is not David, it’s Davide.
I know, but British people don’t understand it. I try and say my name, but they just get it wrong. I’ve been called any kind of names: Daveed, Davidah, DVD. Yes, DVD. Like the things you used to buy or rent to watch a movie. I panic when I have to introduce myself on the phone. “Hello, my name is Davide, like David, but with an E at the end. Course I can spell it, D for delta-A for alpha-V…V for…V for Venice?” It’s so much easier if I just call myself with an English name. I don’t want people to think I am a video support.
How about you try saying it in the English way? Dah-vee-day. Sure people will understand.
You sure? Right. Let’s start again.
[intro music: Karakurenai by Andy Akiho]
Hi, I’m Davide. I live in Manchester, but guess what, I’m not British. Let’s see if you can guess where I’m from. So far, people have taken me for French, Spanish, French, Swedish (yes, I made that face too), French, Brazilian, French, Polish and…French. Every now and then people got it right. Yes, I’m from Italy, and I’m not very good at accents. I can’t do any accent, not even the Italian ones.
[Italian tongue twister in regional accent] Lu sindacu de Ricacci cciu Lecce catta lacciu. Lu sindacu de Lecce disse a cuellu de Tricacci: ma a Tricacci non c’è lacci? Se a Tricacci c’era lacci venia Lecce catta lacci?
Lo sindacu…no, I can’t do this.
I have been living abroad for almost 8 years, but they’ve barely left any trace on my accent. As much as I try, I still sound…non-local. Sometimes I just give up and my accent goes back to my natural lilt, especially when I need to vent emotions. And I sound like this.
[Spoken in an Italian accent] The cat is on the table/roses are red and violet are blue/red in the evening good weather is hoped
I try and imitate the sounds of the people around me. I am working on my flat vowels, I can say “thistle” and “thorough” without spitting too much, but accent is more than the sum of its single pieces, it’s a harmony, and I don’t think I have a good ear for it.
Talking of harmony:
[choir vocalising] One, one two one, one two three two one…
This is the choir I sing in. My tongue gets twisted as soon as I get to five.
[choir vocalising] Oh how I love to sing.
My boyfriend is deaf, right, and he cannot hear my accent. He can lipread my accent.
-You know when you say the word “love”? You say it the wrong way.
-What do you mean the wrong way?
-Well, you say LOVe, instead of love.
-Wait, I say lOve? How do you say love?
I am obsessed with my accent. An accent is like a business card-especially in Britain, where it comes with so many strings attached regarding your education, your place of birth and your prospects in life. Luckily, there’s no stigma attached to my accent, but I’m so jealous of people from Scandinavia, with their flawless English. I was out one night, and I was chatting at the bar with a friend of mine, while waiting on our drinks, and a lady just randomly crashed our conversation to ask her: “are you from Canada?” She answered: oh no, I am Swedish. “Oh because your accent sounds totally like from Canada”. I stood by, hanging on, like: “come on, ask me if I’m from Canada too. I totally sound like I come from Canada. Why don’t you ask?”
Once I went on a date with this guy who worked in theater and I ended up telling him how I wished I could change the way I speak. He told me: “there is no need to change it. Just own your accent. Wear it”.
Wear my accent, I said? Like a scarf?
Like a scent, he said.
So my accent tells other people where I am from, and I just wish my accent told people that I belong here even if I am not from here. Like a new personal scent, my own blend of Italy and Britain. “Hi, I’m Davide, and if my weird name hasn’t put you off already, here’s my sweet foreign accent to tell you I’m not from here. Go on, ask me where I’m from. That’s right, I’m not Canadian. I am Britalian”.
Next time: Brew.