Outfit: Carnlough Harbour

Living in Northern Ireland has given me a strange sort of sympathy (empathy?) for Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna and their faux British airs and accents. You see I'm not trying to intentionally shed my American accent and pronunciations (or ways of spelling), but it's hard to hang on to them when locals keep correcting your pronunciation of words and you have to learn the local terms in order to be understood. If I ask for chips at a restaurant I'll get fries (not the crisps I might have been expecting), if I talk about my bangs people won't immediately understand I mean my fringe. Words that are the same can be pronounced quite differently; I don't say scone the same way Thomas's family does and don't get me started on how they pronounce aluminum and oregano! Even for this post I had to debate writing "harbor" as an American would or "harbour" as it is in British-English. Since the harbor in question is located in an area that uses British-English it made sense to use the correct, local spelling of harbour. But it does make me wonder if people will start to think I'm putting on British airs and trying to come off as something I'm not, when in reality I'm merely trying to be understood and respect the local dialect. Changing your speech pattern doesn't disappear as soon as you cross a border back home; even when I'm talking to my family on Skype some of these British-isms I'm getting more comfortable using and new ways of pronunciation slip their way into my speech. And I've only lived here for a little less than a year, I can hardly imagine to what extent my language patterns will be changed in five or ten years of living abroad...
P.S. These pictures are a little old, which you can probably tell since my hair color has shifted more in the teal direction.

details: boater hat, Unique Vintage dress, Collectif cardigan, old heels
*pictures by Thomas*



  1. I completely sympathise with the accent bit! I moved to Dublin from the States a few years ago, and while I'm cautious about sounding like I'm trying too hard to "sound local," I have made a deliberate attempt to open up some of my nasal, Midwestern vowels that cause some serious communication breakdown (like even saying my name, Brandi, I have to pronounce the "a" more open or people have no idea what I'm saying). It's an absurd conundrum you don't really anticipate! And as far as different words go, I've ended up using a lot of them interchangeably - after a few years, I'm equally likely to say "fries" or "chips" when I'm talking about french fries, which really only adds to the confusion. :P So... I just had to comment; I've been enjoying your posts about transitioning to NI life so much! <3

  2. Stunning photos, and I completely understand what you mean! I've been living in Paris, France for nearly a year, and relate 100% to your struggle. XO

  3. "if people will start to think I'm putting on British airs..."

    Isn't it interesting how our culture works? It's been more than two hundred years since we fought for and won independence from the mother country and yet we still think of all things British as somehow culturally superior to all things American! We insist that immigrants to the United States learn to speak our language without an accent, to live in ways that don't call attention to their difference, and yet we're so shocked if an American chooses to live somewhere else and take on that place's culture and habits!

    Acculturation is always a loaded process, entangled in historic (and ongoing/evolving) power structures (and struggles) in human society. Just remember that if an American is giving you a hard time about "putting on airs" that you're actually getting to observe these fascinating cultural processes, historical memory, and power negotiations in action. You're living an ethnographic study! Neat! =)

  4. I am from a generically sounding part of Canada so I sound like everyone else but my husband is from a secluded part of Canada that has a VERY different accent, words, sayings, everything as well as being known for talking very fast. They are descendants of the Irish/English and being so secluded for many 100's of years they kept their accents and morphed them into new ones. We live in my neck of the woods and he's a teacher so he completely calms down his accent to be more clear to the kids and us non-accented folks. Over our 5 years together I have picked up words, saying, and pronunciations from him just from our day to day conversations. I tend to sound more like him when talking to him. When we go visit his family back home he reverts to his full-on usual accent and I'm kinda left in the dust trying to keep up with everyone! It's like a whole new language! You can't beat them! You have to join them!

  5. Your dress is so cute !I love it with the cardigan

  6. I totally understand. I only lived in Dungannon for about 5 months, but my accent was SO hardcore by the end of it. The day my parents picked me up from the airport, they got confused why I kept walking on the "wrong" side and crossing in front of them on the way to the car. It's tough knowing which culture to call upon a lot of the time. For me, I was there on an internship so I left with the total intention of placing their culture above my own so I would get the full experience, but at the same time I was there with a girl from Michigan who had TOTAL culture shock and it was so difficult for her. I actually know a girl who lives in Dromore, Co. Down, who would be perfect to talk about this with. She's in her mid-20s and has lived there for quite some time. Let me know if you want to connect with her, she's got a lot of knowledge about the transition she made from Pennsylvania to Northern Ireland.

  7. Tão linda, um encanto seu vestido <3
    Casa Cherry

  8. I had to smile when I read your post today as I definitely can relate as well! I moved from Canada to PA about 6 months ago, and part of me just can't let go of spellings like colour, favourite, grey, saying "zed" instead of "zee" etc. On the other hand I've had to let go of toque (American-beanie) and marks (grades) as people don't know what I mean. And my "a-boat" has shifted a little to 'abowwwt" completely unintentionally! A lot of slang is different too, unexpectedly for being neighbouring countries. (And unfortunately, urban dictionary doesn't always help!) Have you adjusted to using Celcius yet? I found that difference more annoying than expected, for the simple reason of how often people talk about the weather! (4 is 40 and 16 is 61 = my go to for converting ;))

  9. I love hearing about everyone's code-switching experiences! I am a linguist and also a language mimic so I would be both excited and self-conscious about "fitting in" language-wise. I say go full on Irish whenever you feel like it!

  10. I moved from England to Northern Ireland 2 years ago and even my accent has changed! I even say 'wee' very often which confuses my friends across the sea.
    I wouldn't say you'd be changing yourself to say british things - you're evolving which is part of the path your life has taken you on. :)

  11. US person in Dublin who can relate; a friend once said there are three categories to the changes you go through:

    1. The Words You Change Deliberately

    These are the ones you might change in order to avoid confusion (like your crisps vs. chips scenario); or just to avoid mocking, or whatever. For me, it was 'mobile'.

    2. The Words You Change Subconsciously

    You don't notice it happening, but all of a sudden you're using an extra 'u' or an 's' instead of a 'z' and saying 'Ta' without realizing it.

    3. The Words You Will Never, Ever Change

    I will never say 'boot' instead of trunk and despite constant berating from friends an colleagues I will always say ga-RAGE, not 'GA-rage.


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