Let’s start this article with an anecdote: Josh Thomas.
It might seem a bit odd to kick off a discussion about the Duchess of Sussex by looking at the life of a 31-year-old Aussie comedian, but stay with me.
I would forgive you for thinking Josh grew up in Europe. Given the comic’s slightly British, slightly Welsh accent, that’s probably what most people believe. Only that’s not the case at all.
Despite sounding like he grew up across the world, Josh was born in Melbourne and raised in Brisbane, rendering his accent something of a quirky mystery.
My sister Claire and I saw Josh in a Melbourne Comedy Festival show about five years ago, where he explained the strange reality: he had only travelled around Europe for a handful of months and, almost overnight, adopted his unique and endearing twang. It’s stuck ever since.
I remember returning to our speech pathologist mother at the end of the night who assured us that, yes, accents can be very fickle things.
Which makes it rather irksome that so many people are giving Meghan Markle a tough time this weekend, after a video circulated on Twitter showing her greeting fans with a slight British accent.
Despite only moving to live with her now-husband Harry in November last year, it’s apparent that Meghan sounds rather different from what she did in her Suits days.
Check out her new accent below:
Commentary around Meghan’s new accent has been rather nasty – and the acidic comments will not be repeated here – but it does raise the question: Why are some people’s accents so malleable when others’ are impenetrable?
Here are some of the potential explanations:
1. The chameleon effect
Those whose accents change quickly may simply be ‘unintentionally mirroring’ the very people they seek to make comfortable.