I started English lessons in fifth grade. Nevertheless, I have an accent (even though American politeness sometimes seems to oblige native speakers to pretend they never noticed). As I’ve noted before, the more tired I am, the more Dutch seeps through. This results mostly in severe difficulties in the ‘th’ sound. When I focus, I can pronounce ‘brother’ right, but whenever I say ‘first things first’, I mix up the sounds, creating the even harder to pronounce ‘thirst fings thirst’. Also, don’t give me a Bible with the word ‘brethren’ in it.
What’s worse than my accent, however, is that sometimes it’s not really English any more. It’s replacing normal Dutch with Dutch with English words. This means a shift from ‘we’ll all pretend he doesn’t have an accent, just smile and nod’ to ‘what did you just say?’ (I found a wikipedia page on Dunglish; I found myself guilty on all of listed symptoms, although not as bad as the most colorful examples). Below is a great video, because of three things: a Dutch man faking a Scottish accent, an American speaking Dutch (two sentences) and then bursting out in a flawless Dutch accent.
Sometimes, it’s a little subtler than downright wrong. When miss Missouri is trying to learn Dutch and getting ‘nice to meet you’ right (‘Aangenaam kennis te maken’), I tell her to ignore the whole sentence. People don’t say that, especially not in the robotic way the cd will teach you. There is a downside to this, though. I must have met quite a few people who now think I did not take any pleasure in meeting them. Also, I must seem rude every now and then, because the Dutch use of the word ‘please’ is for toddlers that wanted to be lifted only. Americans use it for passing salt, ordering coffee and asking for amnesty alike. Maybe this is the reason I get a dirty look along with my salt all the time…
What’s your best accent?