Language and perception

Alice Bachini‘s got a marvelous essay on her site about languages, accents and dialects. It’s a subject that’s (unsurprisingly) near and dear to me.
Funny story: when I used to work at a major arts management agency in New York, I had the odd feeling that foreign callers would somehow understand me better if I mangled my English similarly to theirs:
–Ehks-cooze me, eez posse-bal to speak to Meestah Smeet?
–I’m bery sorry, he no a-beel-a-bull rye now. Can I geef him a may-saj?

I don’t know why I thought that would work, but oddly it made no difference.