I have a problem. It has been with me for as long as I can remember and over the years it has been the cause of both embarrassment and harassment. Many people would (and have) argued that it only requires some self-control and discipline to prevent it occurring, but I genuinely do feel powerless to stop it from happening.
The condition to which I refer is variously described as FAS (Foreign Accent Syndrome), Extreme Social Empathy or Childish Mockery. It’s usually the latter term that my friends and relatives like to use, but I can only assume that this is because they are insensitive bounders, ignorant to my plight.
You see, to put it bluntly, when I find myself in the company of people with foreign or regional dialects for any amount of time, I feel compelled to mimic their accents and speech patterns. I have “why aye’d” to Geordies, “Have a nice day’d” Americans and even said “How-you-say” to an English-speaking Frenchman. This is usually met with bewilderment, derision, embarrassment and – on at least one occasion – aggression.
Playing to stereotype, the threats of violence were the result of ordering “a wee bit of haggis” from a Scottish chip shop.
However, now I have a powerful ally in my claim to innocence: Science. Several studies have now shown that it is simply human nature to adopt the accents, etiquette or dietary preferences (ok, I lied about the last one) of those around you. The theory is that as a social species, humans have developed the ability to empathise with different types of people, just as we adapt to different environments and surroundings. It’s really nothing more than an evolutionary survival instinct.
So, in some ways, I’m actually a very highly developed example of the human race. Or just an immature man that likes to do silly voices. You decide.
Am I alone in my affliction? What embarrassing social ineptitude are you guilty of?
This was my 9th post for the A-Z Blog Challenge. Follow the blog during April for more writing tips, inspirational life posts, short fiction, film-inspired articles and even some songs with audio recordings. Next post – J is for Jokes. Being funny is no laughing matter.