Our French accent is known throughout the world as charming, sexy and intelligent. And yet when we have to communicate in English in a professional context, we are often afraid that our accent will make it impossible for others to understand us.
What’s going on?
This ‘accent issue’ is a perfect opportunity to explore three great English idioms that explain this situation in colourful language.
To have your knickers in a twist.
“Serge has his knickers in a twist about his accent.” Literally, Serge’s attitude about his accent is an overreaction that makes him behave like someone whose underwear is twisted around and uncomfortable (what an image!).
To make a mountain out of a mole-hill.
“My French colleagues are so embarrassed about their accents in English, they really make a mountain out of a mole-hill.” Literally, acting as though a tiny amount of dirt dug up by a mole were a mountain.
To blow it out of proportion.
“Anne-Laure thinks we can’t understand her because of her accent: she really blows things out of proportion.” Literally, to exaggerate a problem beyond it’s normal proportions.
In short, our accent is often more of a problem to us than it is for our audience. If your message is clear and takes your audience’s perspective into account, you’ll be easy to understand.
So rather than focusing on reducing our accent, let’s focus on making our English communication impactful and crystal clear. Our accent will follow.