Friday, December 15, 2006

I need some new role-models

Hearing everyone's voices on these Snapvine players that people have been putting on their blogs has given me a complex.

Listening to them last night, and then to my own recording below, I was completely overcome with imposter syndrome. Youse guys all sound like professors. And I sound like a little kid. What am I doing even thinking I can be a real academic like the rest of you?

But because I overthink things, I lay awake a long time last night trying to work out what exactly made me think you all sounded more like real people than I did. And I reckon I've found the answer: I have never known a professor with a New Zealand accent.

Even in my undergraduate years in New Zealand, the only New Zealanders I was ever taught by were one prof for French and one for German. And they taught in French and German respectively, so I never heard them professoring in a New Zealand accent. The great majority of the rest were Americans and a few were Brits. (I'm judging by their accents here. I never interrogated them about their citizenship, so it's possible they were NZers by birth who spent a long time working overseas).

Here there is one Australian faculty member in our department, but she works in an area so far removed from mine (both in the physical and metaphorical sense) that I almost never interact with her. Otherwise they are mostly Americans and Canadians, with a Russian and a few Brits thrown in for good measure. My entire committee is American.

I guess there are enough Ivy League and Oxbridge graduates interested in a quiet life in Australia that my university never has to settle for employing people from our own system. You know, I think every faculty member in our department (apart from the one Australian) came from Harvard, MIT, Oxford or Cambridge. Which is nice for students from the point of view of having smart people teaching and supervising us. But not so nice when we start thinking about our own chances of being employed here.

And I think it has led to me subconsciously spending the last 10 years internalising a belief that American accent = professor, New Zealand/Australian accent = student. Which is why you all sound like "real academics" to me, and I sound like a fake.

17 Comments:

Propter Doc said...

I listened to the thing below and thought you sounded 'growed up', and not like a little kid at all. I love your accent and I've been enjoying listening to everyone speaking (ok, and singin) on those things. I'm too scared to record my voice incase I sound like some terrible Scottish steriotype. So atleast you had the guts to do it!

StyleyGeek said...

Oh, you should do it! I love Scottish accents. Ms. Mac's was delicious.

And as for having the guts to do it, I should probably admit that I recorded this about two weeks ago when I first saw the meme, and have spent that long trying to convince myself to post it. It was only the voice players on everyone else's blogs that gave me the courage!

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, there are 3 professors here in my department in the states that are from New Zealand. Including our new hire: to my ears your accent sounds exactly like his.

I never pegged American as "professor"-sounding. Probably because I've several professors with other accents: Indian, Spanish, Jamaican...

StyleyGeek said...

So that's where they all end up :)

Anastasia said...

aha, I see. because you sound all official talking about vowel shifts n shit, you know? and I, i'm sorry to tell you, do *not* sound like a professor. I sound like a dork.

I love your accent, by the way! I don't know any other new zealanders. Or australians for that matter, so I have no comparison beyond ummm the crocodile hunter. he's australian or something, right?

StyleyGeek said...

Yeah, he's Australian. He wouldn't have found much to do in NZ. We suffer from a distinct lack of crocodiles.

(You don't think I sound like him, do you? Because I would find that deeply disturbing.)

StyleyGeek said...

When I was on an exchange to Germany during high school, the geography teacher there always called me "Unser Crocodile Dundee". I found it a little concerning that someone could teach geography and not have much idea that there was a difference between Australia and New Zealand.

StyleyGeek said...

And at the risk of saturating this thread with my own comments, which probably breaks all the rules of blogging etiquette, Anastasia, you didn't sound like a dork at all.

Oddly enough, you were the only person who sounded like I expected you to. Maybe because you use words like "dude" so often, I always "hear" your blog posts with an American accent :)

Breena Ronan said...

I thought you sounded very nice and professor-y.

Anastasia said...

oh no, you don't sound like him. i probably wouldn't have heard you and thought "new zealand!" but you do sound different than he does.

yah, i'm all about dude and like :)

skookumchick said...

I thought your recording was way cool. And the explanation was helpful too - we spent our honeymoon in NZ, and found the vowels for "pin" and "pen" very confusing to start with.

If you were my prof, I could listen to your accent all day. And not think you sounded student-y at all.

kermitthefrog said...

That's super weird about having no NZ-ers in your department(s). Do they all really end up here? Where oh where do they go?

StyleyGeek said...

I went back and looked at the department website for my undergrad department and discovered that there are actually at least three NZers on the faculty. One wasn't there until after I left, and the other two taught in areas I never studied, so I never really came in contact with them.

But maybe it has just been coincidence that I have always been taught by Americans and Brits, rather than it being indicative of the university system in Australasia in general.

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

Surely you aren't referring to MY voice posts as professorial-sounding.

And I think you sounded VERY professional. Your accent is so awesome.

StyleyGeek said...

Yeah, but Dr BH, although you sound kind of drunk and mentally unhinged on some of those recorders, you sound like a drunken, mentally unhinged professor :)

(Actually, some of the time you sound like a popstar :) )

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

You have just joined Weezy ("Wow, you're way more messed up than I thought") on my list of favorite comments!

StyleyGeek said...

Okay, I say that you sounded mentally deranged and drunk, and you reply that that's on your list of favourite comments?

You are more messed up than I thought, too :)