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¿Tomato or Tometo?

“How do you say tomato?

"Towmeirdow,” of course, like all normal Americans.

“Really!?” she says, with a contorted face. She didn’t believe me.

“And you?” I add, ignoring her sarcasm.

“Well, in England, we say “towmaitow,” she replies importantly, as only the English people do.

“Wow,” I thought to myself, “just like what I have heard in the movies”.

AJ and I were having fun with each other’s accents in English. She, AJ, being from the United Kingdom and me, being from the United States, speak the same language, only a little differently.

Since living in Spain, I have discovered that all the world seems to have an opinion about which accent is better, easier, more normal, and, of course, everyone has their preference.

Spain is no different. When they discover I’m from the USA, I typically get a look that expresses either a wow-super-cool, or a too-bad-you-don’t-speak-proper-English expression. I find this perspective puzzling.

Us Americans don’t really care nor even think about who’s English accent better. What is important to us is comprehension. In American, many cultures speak English with their different accents, so we simply want to understand. If we comprehend the foreign accent, we are good. Rarely will an American correct the non-native speaker. In fact, in the States, we find accents alluring. Even sexy, like Don Juan Tenorio and Zorro.

AJ and I continued to chat about the pros and cons of American English versus the “Queens English”, for example, American has many popular movies and songs, the British have all the language exams one must pass.

Then, I remembered an article I had my students read. It stated that both the American English and the Queen’s English have to change to accommodate English Language learners. Well, I knew for a fact that the majority of native English speakers are American. What could they be talking about?

However, it turns out that most English speakers are non-native! They are all the souls in Spain and around the world who are learning to read and write a language that has no seemly consistent pronunciation and grammar rules. The truth now is that native speakers are the minority!

Both AJ and I were humbled by this realization and agreed that a tomato by any other accent is still just as delicious.

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