“Oh, you have a lovely accent. Where are you from?”
I am from Ukraine and I love my accent. Many people have told me they like my accent. It gets me noticed and it makes me who I am. But if I only had a penny for each time I was asked that question…
I had some interesting conversations that were triggered by my accent. Many Canadians genuinely wanted to know more about the country, Ukrainian customs and Ukrainian people.
However, some of the questions or statements left me perpetually perplexed. My sarcastic thoughts are in italic.
- Are you from Ukraine? Welcome to Canada. How do you like it here? Thank you, I’ve been here for almost 20 years. How do you like it here?
- Ukraine? That’s in Russia, right? Ukraine is a completely separate country, we have a border to the east with Russia.
- Are you from Kiev? Not all Ukrainian people who came to Canada are from Kiev. Ukraine is a big country (bigger than France!) and has more than one city. I am from Chernivtsy.
- You don’t look Ukrainian… The person who said this to me had never been to Ukraine; I know this for a fact. I am100% Ukranian but would like to find out from a non-Ukrainian person about how Ukrainian people should look like.
- Are you from Ukraine? Oh, wow… my wife and I just were in Prague last month. ??? That’s in Czech Republic. Approximate distance from Prague to my city (Chernivtsi) is 533 miles or 857.6 kilometers. We speak completely different languages.
- I had a Ukrainian co-worker once and she always ate pierogy. Well… what do you say to that… hmmm… did she share?
- You know, there are a lot of Ukrainian people out west in Saskatchewan and Alberta. I do know that. There are a lot of Canadian people there too.
- How can you be cold? You are Russian! Again, I am Ukrainian. And Toronto is much, much colder than Chernivtsi.
- Talk to me in Ukrainian / Say something in Ukrainian… Why? Are you testing my knowledge of Ukrainian? I am always happy to translate for people common phrases, i.e. “Hello”, “Thank you”, “Happy Birthday”, etc. But “Talk to me in Ukrainian” is a little creepy.
- OMG, you are so pretty! Are you a mail order bride? Kind of rude, no? One day I will say that I am a mail order bride just to get a reaction.
- Sorry, we don’t have any vodka. We only have beer. Not all Ukrainian people drink vodka. And not all Ukrainian people drink alcohol.
Do you have any personal experiences with stereotypes?