Travel Stories from an Asian Man #3

Links to stories one and two.

When my sister and I were in South Africa, wherever we would go, people would tell us that they liked our accents. Seeing as how we were both born in the US and speak without a regional accent, neither of us could figure out why so many people were complimenting our “accents”. Are South Africans the only people in the world who like generic American accents? While it seems like Americans often like any sort of accent (e.g. British, Irish, southern, etc.), I’d never encountered any group of people who specifically liked a generic American accent.

Perhaps we should have been clued in when some people would then ask, “Where did you learn to speak English?” Since we didn’t understand why people were complimenting our accents, we would just confusedly reply, “America?”, and I think our confusion would end the conversation.

Finally, near the end of a trip, we had a slightly different exchange with one person: besides just complimenting our accents, he also said, “You speak English so good!”. And then it clicked.

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