The Day I Spoke like an American - A Dose of Encouragement

We lived in America in the lovely State of Delaware for 3 years, 1992 - 95, while our three children were young. 

Coming from Northern Ireland, UK, we were determined to say the words the proper British way like garage and not ga-raase, tomato and not tomaayto, aluminium and not alummmminum etc.   

I was pretty good about this! 


           I was pretty stubborn about this.

However, you cannot live among Americans for long before you pick up the accent. 

 When we returned to Northern Ireland our daughter aged 8 was referred to as the "American Girl" by her classmates at school for quite some time as she took longer than the rest of us to drop the accent. 

The Kids & I at the Grand Canyon

On the way home from America we had a layover in London for a few days and while there we headed into a McDonalds for lunch one day.  I'm not a very picky eater but I do not like all the sauces and pickles you get on the burgers & they never get it right in America when you say you don't want certain things in it so I had spent my time there perfecting the way to say the word "plaaain" like I was a real American so that the servers in places like McDonalds would know what I was saying.  

This time in London I reckon they can get my order right as they will understand everything I say so I don't have to think so hard about it.  

So I'm trying to order a bacon cheeseburger with only lettuce and tomato & guess what happens when I get to the tomato bit? 

I say tomayto instead of tomato.

3 years of saying it properly in America and as soon as I get back to the UK out comes the American pronunciation. 

What was wrong with me?

Needless to say, I have told this story numerous times because I can laugh at myself.

Anyway, then one day in 2012, 17 years since we had returned from living in America I had to revive my American accent.  

Why was this?  

I wasn't speaking to American visitors or even to other foreigners who have learnt their English by listening to American films, TV programmes and pop songs. 
(we met many people like this while we lived in Belgium)

No, I was sitting at home trying out my new iPad.  

I was doing a test on the voice thing to see if it really would write down what I said.

This was the result: 

          I said    "So from now on I want to take all my notes by voice"

         It wrote  -  So Canion I want to take all my notes bivoice

          I tried the same phrase again
                         So from now on I want to take all my notes By Voice

          It wrote  -  Abigail.            seriously???????????????
Once again .....

       and it worked!

                    So from now on I want to take all my notes by voice

It worked that time because I used an American accent

                     The iPad works best if I use my American accent"

For a machine to understand me I needed to talk the way it expected me to talk, 
the way it was programmed to understand.

It worked that time because I used an American accent

All of this made me think about how we speak to people.  

Sometimes we just speak out not thinking of how we phrase something or the tone of our voice because we are talking to our family or someone we are very close to.

Other times we are conscious of our voices and words when we are talking to someone new or people we feel we need to be careful with so that they understand exactly what we mean.

We got very good at speaking more clearly and slowly when we lived in America and in Belgium because people from Northern Ireland tend to speak very quickly.

During the past year I took a short course in teaching English as a second language and I am now even more conscious of my pronunciation.

Then there are the times we talk to God.

I am so glad that God hears us 

  • whether we whisper or shout, 
  • whether we can find the right words or not, 
  • whether we even speak something out 

and that God knows 

  • what we are really sorry about, 
  • what we are worried about, 
  • what we are care about 

We can be thankful that our language does not have to be perfect for God to hear and understand and undertake for us. 

He knows, no matter how we try to express ourselves.

However God does wants us to to be truthful from our hearts.

In Psalm 51:6 the Psalmist says 

"Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:"

How can we have this truth?

The Psalmist goes on to show he knows the answer in the following verses and then acts on this knowledge he has by praying specifically to God. 

Oh that we will be like the Psalmist and know the answer but also act on it.


  1. What a great illustration of how we use our words!

  2. Nice one. I am glad that God hears us no matter the language we speak. The fact He cares for us at all times is amazing.

  3. Anonymous18:26

    Love this story. I'm English and my husband is American so we spend a lot of time laughing at each others accents!

  4. Loved the story and analogy. I speak American... but Southern American... which can be a whole 'nother language! LOL!

  5. I must confess to getting annoyed because computer-automated call centres in England do not understand my (Scottish) accent, but if I put on a SE England accent, they put me through! Really good analogy about how we use our words- thank you for sharing it :-)

  6. Visiting you from Strangers & Pilgrims, and I enjoyed your sharing of your plight with the differences in languages that are spoken. In fact, we have lived in various parts of the US, and people talk differently in each little area. I remember we had just moved and had gone to the local Costco, and I couldn't find the toilet paper. I asked someone where the toilet paper was, and she said on such and such aisle, so where are visiting here from? And I looked at her and said, Why do you think I am visiting? And she said, Your accent, lol! I didn't realize I had one. So... yes, I enjoyed your story, and certainly it is wonderful to know we can talk to the Lord, and He always understands us perfectly! :)

  7. I never thought that much about all the differences in pronunciation, but I have never been out of the US so I guess it never came up. Your article was very interesting to read as you described your experiences. But this is what I am really thankful for: "...that our language does not have to be perfect for God to hear and understand and undertake for us." Blessings to you this week. I'm visiting from #raralinkup.

  8. I am especially glad He understands my Southern drawl and answers my prayers. Our God enabled the languages we speak. He love us no matter where we are from. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I'm thankful too that God hears our hearts and not just our accents or our words. It's hard to look past that sometimes in others, but when we do, we can discover a beautiful thing! Thanks for sharing this funny story

  10. Sandra, Thanks for sharing this with us at #RaRaLinkup! I enjoyed your story and the truth that God knows--that He hears & understands no matter how we express ourselves. Blessings to you, Angela

  11. I love this illustration! I'm so thankful that God understands me when I pray. He understands my heart even when I can't put into words how I feel. I also think it's important to acknowledge how we speak to others. It's easy for us to speak our "Christian" language to those who may not understand "Christianese." Maybe this is one of the reasons Jesus spoke in parables. He found a way to speak to the people of His day using a language they could understand. :)

  12. That is so funny! I was born in New Jersey but we ended up in Florida. For years, people thought my northern "accent" was so funny but then I would go to New Jersey to visit family, and they would say I sounded southern. Well, almost 20 years later, I am indeed a southern girl. Thankful to have God hear my prayers also, accent or not! Thanks for sharing with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you link up again soon :)

  13. Many years ago, we attended a Bible School in Oklahoma where students came from all over. We became friends with two couples, from Texas and Alabama, with heavy southern accidents. It was refreshing to hear them speak. I too am amazed that no matter our accent, or language, God understands each and every one of us. Thanks for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

  14. If it makes you feel better, it struggles with the Canadian pronunciation of words too ;)

    Love this post though, it's very beautiful and right on the money!

  15. I love this post, as I do all of your Posts Sandra! Made me giggle. I have one accent - southern. Its not so heavy until I'm tired. When I'm on the phone, it's almost not there at all. The kids call it my phone voice and I have no control over just happens.

    I'm with you as I'm sooo thankful that no matter what accent, what voice or even whisper God hears us!!

    Thanks for sharing and for being part of the #BloggerCareGroup


  16. Anonymous15:29

    I am glad you can laugh at it now because that is funny!
    Yes, I am glad I don't even have to have any words for God to know my heart.

  17. I say Psalm 51:10 every whatever way it happens to come out of my mouth. I know God understand me.

  18. I often wonder why the American accent seems to take over most other languages. It must have been a great experience for the family living there although I would be sorry not to hear your Irish accent - one of my favourites - so lilting and musical. Thanks for sharing with us at #AnythingGoes

  19. I have been determined to not lose my southern accent here in Montana. But I have found that there are certain words I've come to say differently. A friend of mine was poking fun at my accent the other night. Hearing her try to talk slowly with a drawl was too funny. Thank you for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

  20. what a beautiful and funny post. I am originally from Germany, but after having spent over 20 years in the US, I get teased about my American accent when I speak German. How funny, that the iPad responds to an American accent! Nice to meet you. Have a great week!

  21. Loved this article! My iphone doesn't like my American accent, Siri and I are always getting our wires crossed.