Lately I have become very aware of the accent I use when speaking Dutch. There is nothing wrong with the accent itself. It is very clear, strong and well articulated. As accents go it is a very good accent. If I had to give it a score between 1 and 10 it would be at least an 9, maybe an 9.5.
However, if I was forced to make one criticism it would be that it is entirely the wrong accent of the language I am attempting to speak. For some bizarre reason I have fallen into the habit of speaking Dutch with a very strong English accent.
You might think that this sounds perfectly logical considering the fact that I am and always have been English (it says so in my passport). However, it is not ‘my’ English accent that I am using. Speaking Dutch somehow amplifies my English-ness and brings out my inner upper-class posh gentleman. I don’t consider myself that posh in normal life but the moment I start speaking Dutch with a Dutchman it’s as if I am channelling the spirit of Oscar Wilde.
When buying stroopwafels at the local super market it sounds like I’m on an official trade mission on behalf of Queen Elizabeth herself. Basically, I speak Dutch like a 1950’s BBC radio news reader.
How I manage to mix the refined sounds of English high society and the harsh hacking guttural sounds of the Dutch language is quite beyond even me but at this rate it is only a matter of time before I start using phrases like ‘pip pip’ and ‘good show old chap’ in Dutch.
I am not even sure when or why I started doing this. Maybe it is out of some apologetic politeness towards the person who’s language I am butchering or maybe it is old imperial colonization instincts that are telling me, speak posh enough and you will be understood.
Either way it leads to a lot of unsurprised Dutch faces when I use phrases like, “Ik kom uit England.”