Mia: Shaken Not Stirred

The true life stories of a NYC female.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The diversity of accents

It’s early and I’m in Queens standing in a Korean grocery store. To the left of me my Puerto Rican uncle Chino (which means Chinese in Spanish) and his Italian friend. To the right of me my uncle’s Arab friend and in front of me behind the counter is the owner of the store.

The store is not open for business yet but the phone keeps ringing. The owner ignores the phone despite the fact that this is the third phone call he’s gotten since pulling his gates up. They are discussing business now. My uncle’s Italian friend owns the route that supplies the store with snack foods, chips etc. He’s there to re-stock the store, the Arab is there because he owns a construction supply business and the Korean guy wants to purchase some stuff for some renovation work he’s doing. My uncle Chino is there because he needed some cigarettes and i'm there for the Snapple.

The constantly ringing phone begins to annoy the Korean guy he leans over and turns on the answering machine. A call comes in the machine picks up and this is what we hear in a thick Russian accent….

Caller: Peek up the phone I know you are there. It is me Nikolai the Russian guy.

When the message ended we all stared at the phone…I didn’t know that accents like that existed in real life. It was like straight out of a James Bond movie; his voice so deep accent so thick you could spread it on toast.

The Korean guy just burst out laughing and picked up the phone. The Arab from Brooklyn laughed as well and his thick Arab accented English said, “Man that dude’s accent very strong no?”….the Italian guy from Long Island mumbled something in Italian then added in Italian accented English, “Hell yeah it scared me!” My uncle Chino born and raised on Manhattan’s upper west side a first generation Nuyorican. His own accent reveals the fact that despite his perfect English he grew up speaking Spanish. It's a typical first generation Nuyorican/Puerto Rican combo accent. My uncle Chino couldn’t stop laughing at them talking about the Russian guy’s accent as if they had none of their own.

It occurred to me a second generation Nuyorican chick from The Bronx with a typical New York accent that I was standing in the middle of a mini United Nations . God Bless the diversity of accents.

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