Somehow I managed to miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was first broadcast, so my father and I are currently catching up with the DVDs (so much better in English than badly dubbed in French, so I guess we’re lucky after all). We’re one-third through season six. The last episode we watched was the one when one of Willow’s spell goes awry (again) and everybody ends up waking up dazed on the floor of the magic shop, without a strand of memory remaining.
Of course it’s a fun moment, with misunderstandings aplenty and lots of jokes about the British accents and bickering sisters. There was one part I found quite funny, however, which I’m not sure the writers planned. That’s when Giles the English librarian wakes up, and starts talking, and after ten seconds Spike the English vampire starts to make fun of his ‘nancy-boy’ British accent, only to realise seconds later that, ‘Bloody hell! I say ‘bloody’! And ‘shag’ and ‘bollocks’ and ‘knickers’! I’m English too!’
Because, you know, that bloke wakes up with not a bit of memory remaining, about who he is and what he does and even not remembering that he’s actually a vampire, but still, one fundamental thing remains: he should normally be American. That’s about as natural as being human, right?
It reminded me of when my brother and I were six and eight and we were just starting to understand how foreign languages worked, and we were very proud to say that we understood now that the whole world doesn’t actually think in French and just talks in code to pull our legs. An amnesiac wakes up, and suddenly realises there is something very wrong with his brains: he thinks in British English, whenever the normal American words should crop up! What the hell is happening? Next time we’ll discover that there are crazy people who don’t even speak English at all in this world…
Completely pointless, but it made me laugh.
Oh, and to all Americans out here: You know I love you all, right? This was hardly a serious observation, and I can’t say it’s a commentary on a very serious work of art either. Just a random joke based on a joke. I just like to enjoy all those funny little things about language differences and awareness, and while they do seem to happen more often among speakers of widespread languages, that doesn’t mean I think the speakers of the languages in question are stupid.
I just like French cooking better…