Thursday, July 27, 2006

To Accent or Not

Funny – having grown up in India, when you come to the US you obviously try and adopt the American accent so that the natives (no no not the American Indians but the other immigrants) can understand what you’re saying. A lot of fun has been made (not that it has stopped or anything) about the “funny” Indian accent or the jorry Chinese accent or the clik clik African accents! It makes sense – the average American has never been outside of his piece of rock to understand the different accents let alone know that there are more countries than the number of contiguous US states – but then I digress …
Point is – we (Desi, Chinese etc. – mostly the 3rd world types) take efforts to “pick-up” the American accent (never mind that we get made fun of nevertheless – at home and here) in order to facilitate comprehensible communication. So you would think that the problem lies in our accent since the US can not understand it. But no!
They don’t understand the British accent, the Scottish accent or even the Australian accent and none of the above mentioned people ever try to change their accents! They just repeat what they said in the same manner – only a lil louder and sometimes a tad bit almost mockingly slower - and lo behold! – everyone in the room understands! And I’m not even going into Italy, French or the rest of Europe!
Now I’m not crying foul or racial injustice or anything like that – I’m just thinking whether I need to take efforts to modify my accent! After all I did learn to speak and spell much better than ...

13 comments:

De-Silva said...

hiya there!!

"so that the natives (no no not the American Indians but the other immigrants) can understand"

nice touch...intended or otherwise...that you refer to the non American Indians as "other immigrants"! :-)

to counter your point, this (accent) may just be a small example about the inherent desi capability to adapt to changing conditions. that's a good thing....no? :-)

Venky said...

@De-sliva - Good point. We have always been the assimilators ... altho this is slightly different in that it is "we" who have migrated as opposed to what has been the norm so far.

Raoul said...

Most Americans I know do make fun of European accents. And that includes Scottish and Irish accents too. Probably the only accent Americans do not overtly ridicule is the English accent -- perhaps in deference to the fact that they invented the language.

brijwhiz said...

I hate the desi accent, especially the south indian accent in English. English just doesn't come out right. Our accents are perfect for our melodious languages. My fav accents are the Scottich accent, the liverpudian accent and the Welsh accent.

Venky said...

@Raoul - I guess you are right - Americans do make fun of European accents but its just not as cool as the way we speak enlglees.

@Brij - "I hate the desi accent" - am not sure I understood that mate.

brijwhiz said...

just what I said - I hate the way we speak English, especially when the accents are pronounced - it jars me ears - prefer to speak Marathi at such times.

Venky said...

@brij - but why can't you accept our English be a proper dialect of the language (if not a whole new one)

brijwhiz said...

I don't think you get it. i am not speaking about correct or wrong english here. Our English is as correct as the Queen's. I am saying that i do not like the sound of our dialect.

Venky said...

@brij - OK. theek hai, theek aache, bara, seri, houdu, tres bien, saru ... rzsxatjf (thats just the word I have to key-in!)

Sarat said...
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Sarat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarat said...

Those above two deleted comments - yeah - that was me! hee hee! Way too much human verbal waste there. All I had to really contribute (reducing the verbal waste) is:
----

By far the most silly thing to think (and a lot of people think that way) is that adapting to a different country is changing one's accent. It's the most superficial way to think about adapting oneself - and those who think that way, that superficialty shows eventually. Adapting is not forgetting who you are, but immersing yourself in your environment wherever you are - in any part of the world. It means respecting one's surrounding, people around them and taking people for being people anywhere in the world.

Long term resistance and discomfort is a clear sign to me of a person's insecurity about who they are, or should be. At that point it don't matter what accents they have. They just don't get it.

Venky said...

@sarat - first off, I had the honor of reading your earlier comments (which qualify for posts I must say ... esp. the part about Alabama ;) )
And I'm gettingthe feeling from all of you that its not just the asians who work on their accent. I must admit that it is strange to me, because that is not what I have seen ... but if that is the case then I agree with all of you (except brij ;) )
And yes Sarat, changing ur accent is faaaar from adapting to a new culture ... something we've talked about before ... if memory serves.