The trip I took where I discovered my accent

Brandon Mangum



The trip I took where I discovered my accent


I will always remember the first time I discovered I had an accent. It was about five years ago when my family and I went on a family vacation to my mother’s birthplace, Antigua. It is a nice small island in the Caribbean. Shortly after we arrived my aunt picked us up from the airport. When I saw her, I said “hello.” She said it back, along with some other stuff I couldn’t understand very well. I had no clue what she said because she spoke very fast and with a heavy accent. To me, it sounded like she said “Hey-o tap don here”. I was very confused and didn’t know-how to respond to that so I just said “Okay”. She laughed at me.

“How are you doing Aunt Carmen?”

“Good boy, wagwan?”


“That means what’s going on Brandon, that’s just how people say it here”

“Oh okay. I’m good, how long did it take you to get here?”

“Tree minnut,”

“What?” My mom repeated her and said “Three minutes Brandon” because she knew I wouldn’t understand what she said. My aunt then drove us to her home. I unpack all of my things in my room and then walked to a local restaurant.

“Hi, can I get a cheese steak platter please” The waiter looked at me with a strange look on his face.

“What chu chat bout.” I asked him again and this time I pointed to a picture of a sandwich. Then he asked me if I was American. I was confused in what that had to do with anything, but I still responded.

 “Yes I am, why?”

“Ohhh, I con tell from ya accent, me boy. Ya yankee.”

“What do you mean? I don’t have an accent. What’s a yankee?”

“Ya lie, yu got accent. Yankee’s American’s”

“No I don’t, you have an accent, and I speak normal.”

He said something else to me but I was unsure in what he said, it sounded like he said, “ya wrong me young bud boy.” I was ten at the time so I just thought he was dumb. I started to get mad because he insisted I had an accent, since I live in America everyone talks the same, we don’t think of ourselves having an accents. We just think that we speak “normal” and if anyone speaks different from us we think that they are strange and they have an accent or dialect. Because of how we are in America, It made me a little confused when he kept on addressing the fact I had an accent.

I left the store and went home so I can eat with my family. I walked into the kitchen surprised to see my cousin. I was happy to see them but also kind of mad because I felt that these were more people I’m going to have a hard time understanding. I thought it might be best if I tried to speak like them.

“Wagwan Mon.”

 “Good man, what’s up man?” I felt weird after I said that, but I thought that’s how they talk and they will understand me.

“Look how big ye got, how old ya be?”

“Ten, man” all of a sudden my cousin starts to make a strange face. I reflected on what I said that would cause her to do that. I thought maybe it could be because I said “man” after every sentence. Or maybe it’s because I didn’t pronounce “man” like they do. I began talking normally again because evidently I was doing something wrong.

Mike Rose said something in his story that can relates to my situation. In I just wanna be average, Mike Rose wrote “The curse of a moderately soulful kid trapped in white skin.” In his story Mike is a new student at a new school and most of the students that attend that school are a different race then he is. Mike sticks out compared to all of the others. The quote explains a lot, it make me feel better because now I know that if they were in the U.S., they would have a hard time understanding us and our slang as I do in Antigua. Mike Rose is saying that if you are trapped in a place that has a different way with words then you are used to, it will cause you will stick out. Now I know if I don’t completely understand someone it’s not my fault, it’s just because of where I am. People can tell a lot from the way a person speak, they can identify their race, age, and even where a person lives.

My cousins wanted to help me fit in around there so they are helping me speak with their dialect. It was hard for me to catch on because it was so different from what I’m used to saying. Most of the common phases that people use a lot, Antiguan would say different. Words like “ stop nah, no nyum um, not at tall, me no know, and me gal” are word they say and use on a daily bases. For the most part I don’t know what they meant.  But I slowly learned and was able to finish the rest of my vacation “fitting in”. I never thought it would be a dialect that is so far off from mines. After the trip their I learned a lot about how people can tell so much just from how a person talk and that people will stick out if you speak different. I’m with my cousins help it wouldn’t be next that next time and I would feel so alone or “trapped in a white skin.”