Sunday, 11 November 2007

Looks, nationalities, languages and accents

All my life I've had to explain 'where I come from' and after 30 years (OK 25 cos the first 5 don't count! ha) I am kind of sick of it.

Back in Australia in the early 1980s there weren't many of us "Asians" around and I have gotten some pretty rude, ignorant racist comments which I have tried to wipe from my memory but can't.

Everywhere I go around the world people assume I'm Japanese. Same goes for Japan too ;)

Last night I had a massage and I had to explain the whole thing again about where I came from and I told the girl my parents are from Taiwan and then she said that I don't have a Taiwanese accent. Well duh!! Given I've never even lived nor gone to school there, and wasn't born there. She said I sounded like i was from Korea.

When I was buying my camera the guy serving me knew I wasn't a local and I asked him to guess where I was from. He said (in order): Singapore, Korea, USA. Wow.. pretty diverse range of countries!! Haha. I was a meanie and didn't end up telling him. Well not that I was mean but it's just too long to explain and sometimes I just cannot be bothered!

Throughout my life I have been told I look Chinese, Taiwanese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese.

Now, the same thing has happened to hubby. When I first met him I thought he looked Italian and he has since been mistaken for Italian here in a clothing shop we went into. He has also been told he looks like other European nationalities including French (he has an English background, but a small percentage of Indian blood, and was born in Australia).

He's been told that he doesn't have an Australian accent but an English/European accent when speaking English too. Weird!!

I only recently had a thought to myself that what the locals think of me when I go into a shop and start chatting to them about their items, is the same thoughts I had when I worked in a shop back in Sydney and would notice any different accents. I suppose, I guess it's just curiosity! I loved hearing European accents and loved chatting to the hot European guys! hahaha - kidding!!

1 comment:

Michele said...

I completely understand. There are times when I get asked so often in one week that it takes every ounce in me not to say "I'm Swedish" or some joke (you know you'd get some funny look if they are looking at an Asian face and saying you are from a country where blond hair is normal).

I can give countless stories of what people say to me. Many don't even believe me when I tell them my nationality. The hardest thing is that the question

"Where are you from?" could mean... depending on what people want

"where do you live"
"where where you born/did you grow up"
"what is your ethnicity"

My answer is different for all 3 question so if I answer the "where are you from" wrong... people get mad at me... amazing