I have a charming regional accent.
Well, a regional accent.
Its actual regional origins are a matter of some debate. It’s much more obvious when I’m speaking to people to whom I’m related. In the four years that I’ve been living here, it’s developed a Scottish burr, or so I keep being told by people in southern England and most of the students I met on elective. I am baffled, as are my Irish friends, by the multiple people who think that it’s Irish, including at least one member of the academic staff who, after being told that I was not Irish, asked if I was sure. To my own ears, it sounds like any one of the thousand voices you would hear in Newcastle, with the odd bit of Glaswegian dialect thrown in to confuse the issue; identifiably Geordie but not so much as to make me incomprehensible to television audiences in America or church congregations in the West End or confused patients in Parkhead.
This was all true until the last few weeks, when I’ve had a few conversations that have given me reason to ask if I’ve unwittingly begun speaking Klingon.
Exhibit A occurred early last month during a small group teaching session on autoimmune disease.
Consultant: In which disease do you find autoantibodies binding to the thyroid gland?
Beth: [with confidence] Grave’s Disease.
Beth: Really, not Grave’s Disease? [with less confidence, thinking that she must have her thyroid diseases the wrong way round] Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Group: *offers other suggestions*
Consultant: *shoots them down*
Beth: [now quite clearly throwing out the names of random eponymous diseases that might in some way be related vaguely to any endocrine gland] de Quervain’s disease?
Other Student: [doubtfully] Grave’s Disease?
Consultant: [delighted] Yes!
Group: But — Ah — What?
Exhibit B comes from yesterday:
Consultant: Are there other causes of a high troponin?
Other Students: *give appropriate answers, including pericarditis and pulmonary embolism and suchlike*
Beth: There are renal causes.
Beth: Renal causes.
Consultant: I’m sorry, renal —
Beth: [gives up] Renal failure.
Consultant: Oh, renal CAUSES.
Exhibit C also comes from yesterday, not twenty minutes later.
Consultant: And what might the complications be of coronary angiography?
Beth: [guessing] Thromboembolism?
Consultant: Oh. Um. Well, no. The complication I was thinking of was vascular damage, which then can lead to clot formation and if pieces of the clot break off they go to other organs, for example to the brain where they cause a stroke.
Beth: … Wait, how is that not a thromboembolism? Have my translation circuits broken? What language am I speaking in?