One thing I’m determined to avoid as much as possible here is the modulation of my accent. I’d hate to end up with a mid-atlantic drawl which comes from no place in particular. Besides, most Americans really do seem to think Britishness, and the accent in particular, is cool, so it’s an advantage worth hanging onto.
That having been said, even the most stalwart Brit must make some concessions as soon as they arrive here, if they wish to be understood. Of those concessions (inclduing “cell” in place of “mobile”, for example), two in particular stand out.
Firstly, if you ever want to enjoy meaty fish, you can no longer pronounce tuna as “choo-ner” (which, to be fair, does sound like you want someone to come and service your grand piano). “Tooh-nah” is the only way you’ll be understood.
And then there’s the real biggie: the humble tomato. Where, in England, you’d ask for “toe-mah-toe”, such a pronunciation here will usually be met by nothing but blank looks. It’s not that people are being wilful, just that the sound really doesn’t seem recognisable to most of them. It pays to practice, early and often, saying “toe-may-doe” if you have any sort of passion for Italian foods.
Talking of practice, it’s lunchtime – the perfect opportunity. The only question is, tuna melt or tomato salad…?