Clay Adams | June 12th, 2014
I was officially told this week that I have a problem with my ars.
Now that comes as no surprise as I hear my ars mentioned a lot, especially at home and usually in conjunction with words such as dumb, tight, smart, etc. But when I received formal confirmation from a fellow professional, I realized it was time to concentrate on what I was doing with my ars and deal with it.
You see, the scope of my problem became apparent during the recording of the first episode of VCH News Radio, our organization’s new podcast.
As I was recording, our producer kept highlighting that I was putting too much emphasis on my ars. My initial reaction was to sit up straighter, eat less and exercise more.
But I was wrong. He was talking about my pronunciation of the letter “r”. It seems that I have a habit of dragging my ars (or “r”s I suppose) and that makes me sound, well, odd. If only it was that easy to explain.
Now for those of you who don’t pay attention to things like accents – or, frankly, have more important things to do like wash the cat – we Australians have a habit of dropping our ars when we speak.
For example, take my home town of Melbourne. North Americans pronounce it as “Mel Born”. We Aussies call it “Melbun”. What we call a car here, is a “cah” down under. Even my beloved Socceroos are “sock her roooos” here and “sock a roos” to Aussies.
We pronounce Hyundai as “High Un Die”, not “Hun Day”; Nissan is as it is spelt, not “Nee San”; while Chrysler is, well, rubbish.
Thongs are for feet
In Australia, thongs are things you wear on your feet and not something from a Victoria’s Secret catalogue. We eat biscuits as cookies are for computers; and we support our sporting heroes, not root for them as doing so would be naughty.
Hockey is a game played on grass while football (or footy) is Aussie Rules, Rugby or Soccer depending on where you live and what you like. We love our Vegemite instead of peanut butter, which, BTW, would be eaten with jam, not jelly (the latter being what North Americans call Jello).
And as for things like beer, well what can I say? Beer (or “beah” or just grog as Aussies would say) is just beer. Who cares where it comes from our how to say it? Just open a darn bottle, throw some snags (sausages), chook (chicken) and slabs of meat (steak) on the Barbie (BBQ) and have a good old yak (conversation) with your mates (friends) one arvo (afternoon).
So if you are wondering what the point of all this is, don’t worry. So am I. I think the issue of my pronunciation challenges hit home how important it is to be sensitive to the culture and traditions of others.
Trying to fit in
My effort to “Americanize” my speech is a result of trying to fit into the place I now call home. I am conscious of Aussies having that nasally tone that some find quaint but others find difficult to understand. As a communicator, I need people to understand what I’m saying – even if it still makes no sense.
Our brand new VCH News Radio podcasts are not, thankfully, dependant on me as the sole voice. My learned colleague Laurie Dawkins is my co-anchor and ad-hoc translator, while CEO Mary Ackenhusen shares her voice of experience, reason and leadership in a manner we can all understand – and that has nothing to do with how she speaks, but is all about what she says.
The podcast is something different for VCH and public health care generally. We hope you will find it interesting and a communications medium that works within our rapidly-growing digital age. Please take a listen and let me know what you think.
In the meantime, I have to go work on improving my ars. Funny, my missus tells me that all the time.