You Have a Lovely Accent

18 Dec

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“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?

39 Responses to “You Have a Lovely Accent”

  1. condimentlove December 18, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    too funny! my students are always asking me strange questions like these too. they still think great britain and america are the same thing, ha!

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves December 18, 2012 at 1:01 am #

      LOL, How do you handle this question?

      • condimentlove December 18, 2012 at 1:09 am #

        it’s hard not to laugh, i know they mean well, so i reassure them no, no, not all americans eat hamburgers all the time, or no, i’ve never met the queen i’m not from great britain. (and then i secretly laugh to myself lol)

      • The Kat and The Falling Leaves December 19, 2012 at 12:24 am #

        I would totally tell them that I have High Tea with the Queen every other month, lol. Except I wouldn’t be able to keep my face straight 😛

  2. Ana December 18, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    Oh, I can relate to that completely. I am Serbian though, so you can just imagine what kind of stuff I get.

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves December 18, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      LOL, my best friend is Serbian so I have enough material for a separate post. One of the “gem” comments she gets: “Oh you must miss all that snow from back home” to which she replies “I am Serbian not Siberian. We hardly get any snow on the Adriatic sea” 🙂

  3. Our Ukrainian Adoption December 18, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    You know, ever since we decided to adopt from Ukraine people tell me I look Ukrainian, and it’s people who have no knowledge of the area. Prior to our adoption journey, everyone told me I look Irish. When people find out we’re adopting two Ukrainian girls, they will sometimes say, “Oh Ukrainians are hot!” or “Mail order brides?” Um, no. They are children. Gross.

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves December 18, 2012 at 10:45 am #

      I was told I look either Irish (I have green eyes, dark hair, and freckles), or Portuguese, or Syrian. How do people come up with these inappropriate comments regarding children is beyond me 😦
      Hope your adoption process will speed up!

  4. rachelbeginshere December 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    This was hilarious to read. Many people are so curious but can never ask the right questions even in small chit chat conversations that introduce one’s self.

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves December 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

      Glad it made you smile 🙂 My Russian friends and friends from Latin America also have some hilarious stories involving stereotypes. I’ll get their permission to write about it.

  5. gnottinggecko December 18, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    This made me laugh! I guided sea kayaking tours when I lived in California. I can’t tell you how many people were shocked to have a female guide, especially for the night paddles. I often was asked if there was another guide coming or if I got all the boats off the trailer and onto the beach all by myself. My favorite question (not actually stereotype related) was “What elevation are we at?”.

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves December 18, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

      LOL, I guess knowing what elevation you are at helps you kayaking 🙂

      • gnottinggecko December 18, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

        I guess.His daughter snapped out “Dad! We’re on the ocean! There is no elevation!”. Poor man, he was pretty embarrassed.

      • The Kat and The Falling Leaves December 19, 2012 at 12:18 am #

        Awww, poor fellow. I hope they all had a chuckle together later.

  6. heartflow2012 December 19, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    Yes, there is a way of just letting thoughts leave your mouth without seeing the effect they will have on the person you are speaking with – this way of speaking has become an epidemic sometimes. I have traveled a lot – and one phrase I like is in Italian: “Tutto il mondo e paese” meaning “All the world is a small village” ~
    You really captured it in this piece! Thanks!

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves December 19, 2012 at 12:35 am #

      Thank you for your comment, I agree that speaking without thinking first does feel like an epidemic. I wish people would listen and pay more attention to each other.

  7. missflamboyante December 19, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    LOL! What a fun read! Yes I made experiences with stereotypes. I guess it is a very human thing, so I don’t blame people, if it happens – but yes, it happens quite often!

  8. Margaret Sullivan December 19, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    LOL! Its really fun to read this. 🙂

  9. chef mimi December 19, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    Very funny!

  10. kocsiska December 20, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Hahaha this is so funny, and so true! Especially in a city like Toronto where tons of ethnicities are living side by side — some people start to think they are an expert on the subject!
    Also, living here in Colombia I get a whooolle other set of cooky questions. I’m Canadian, but for all they care, Canada is the exact same as the U.S. 😉

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves December 20, 2012 at 11:07 am #

      Oh yes, I like hearing that Canada is the same as the USA 😉 I was asked once in which State I live in Canada.
      I also get some cooky questions about Canada when I travel back home; I am saving that for another post 🙂

  11. Esenga' s Voice December 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    I just read it and yes, made me smile. Your sharp and spot on comments&answers did but stereotypes…unfortunately are all around. You can imagine I guess how it has been with me explaining what/where is Latvia. 🙂 One of the answers always has stayed on my mind is: Yes, I know where it is! But why are you white?!
    Happy holidays!

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves December 27, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

      LOL, so why are you white? That’s a good one 🙂 Yes, stereotypes are everywhere. My relatives and friends in Ukraine are asking some really crazy questions about Canada too – I am going to write about it soon!

      • Esenga' s Voice December 28, 2012 at 2:20 am #

        😀 As long as they are not asking if you have TV’s at home, the world isn’ t coming to the end yet. Looking forward that post.

  12. whiskeytangofoxtrot4 January 5, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    That is hilarious! I am glad you have a good sense of humour! Cheers!

  13. radhika25 January 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    Really funny! I am Indian and used to get questions like that 20 years back, mainly from people in the US. Couldn’t believe that we could speak English! We were also asked if tigers and elephants walked on streets…to which my husband replied, there are separate roads for them 🙂
    Glad I found your blog.

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves January 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

      I like your husband’s witty answer!
      Thank you for reading Radhika! I’ve enjoyed your posts too.

    • wiolakk February 18, 2013 at 10:45 am #

      At least there are tigers and elephants in India. Something like 20 years ago Poles were asked if the polar bears walked on the streets in Poland? 😀

  14. bensbitterblog January 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    I love awesome bitter sarcastic tone behind each italicized words. That is what my whole blog is about so come and visit it…My experience with stereotypes is my religion. I am Mormon and the typical stereotypes are about things that haven’t existed for hundreds of years and yet it seems to be the only thing people know about us. Polygamy hasn’t been practiced since the 1800’s, etc and if it is being practiced it isn’t by us. People think the Book of Mormon is a gold Bible etc…

  15. Boomdeeadda January 11, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    I got a kick out of your thoughts, that was so funny Kat. I’m sure people mean no harm but talk before they think. A childhood friend once told me my dad talked funny…I asked, “what do you mean?” Well, he says ‘dis’ and ‘dat’ instead of ‘this’ and ‘that’. Then she added, “you do it too sometimes, you sound real Ukrainian”….I said “well, thanks for that nice compliment”…but I was thinking “excuse me, we are Ukrainian and my dad is devine….so back off”. Really bad manners, but we were just kids.

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves January 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

      I know people don’t mean harm, I was trying to share my immigrant experiences with humour 🙂 Glad it made you smile!


  1. Your Aunt From Canada Is Here! More on stereotypes and cultural differences. « The Kat & the Falling Leaves - January 23, 2013

    […] Back in December I wrote about stereotypes and cultural differences that I’ve experienced living in Canada.  Click here for a refresher . […]

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