Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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The Bletchley Circle (ITV)

Ladies who lunch (and break codes and solve mysteries!)

Since Downton Abbey ended a few weeks back, I’ve been sad without a British period drama. Lots of searching turned up The Bletchley Circle, a three-episode series about four women who did “clerical work” at Bletchley Park during WWII teaming up to solve some grisly murders almost a decade later. (Bletchley was where Allied Forces codebreaking happened, most importantly the Nazi Enigma code.*)

She’s Scottish and sassy

It wasn’t until the “previously on” of the last episode that I was able to put my finger on the one thing that had been nagging me. One of the women, Jean, had an accent that was slight but distinctive and I just wasn’t sure what it was. My first thought was Welsh since that’s always a good guess (for some reason, a disproportionate number of UK actors are Welsh) but then I hit on it: she spoke almost precisely like Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper on Downton. Two quick IMDb searches later and I confirm that they’re both Scottish!

This reminded me of the few times that accent-identification has come up with other expats. A German friend of mine was unable to distinguish between Spanish accents and a Venezuelan acquaintance wasn’t able to say which part of the Spanish-speaking world I hailed from. I’m not yet conversant with the French accents, but I can tell if one person speaks differently and when I first came north from Lyon, I noticed a marked difference in speech between the two regions.

Can you differentiate between different accents in your native and foreign tongues? Am I am outlier in this respect?

*Seriously, I know way too much about WWII for someone my age. It’s not normal.