It’s funny, when you live abroad you hear all sorts of comments that you don’t know how to take. My favorite is: “You don’t sound American.” Taxi drivers, store owners, waiters and all sorts of people say this to me. To which I will dutifully reply, Oh, I am and then have to go on to explain where Cincinnati, Ohio is on the map. (Near Chicago is the most recognizable option.) Inevitably, the person will then reply “really, I always guess where people are from and never would have thought that you were American” and then go on to tell me where they assumed I was from. Typically, these options include the UK, Canada, Australia or France. It’s as if they think by telling me I sound like I am from England, that I will then admit, yes, you’re right. I am English. I was just kidding about the being an American thing.
I can never decide if I am being complimented that I don’t sound like a horrible American or if it’s more of a reprimand that I don’t sound like all those other wonderful Americans. Or, do I need to now apologize for fooling them with my accent? It’s kinda funny. One of my Swedish coworkers used to tell me that she liked me “because you’re not loud like other Americans.” And she did go on to tell me that she meant that as a compliment.