Monday, June 20, 2011

Forget every time you've been told that you don't have an accent

I was re-remembering today an observation: Indians talk with an Indian accent, but from their perspective, you talk with a really ridiculous American accent! Sure, some people here have American family or have themselves spent a lot of time in American or watch Friends and so they think you sound like Chandler or whatever, but that's sure not everybody, and it's definitely not the guy you're trying to get your 50 cent (!!!) breakfast from. Also, while it's an overgeneralization Americans tend to be pretty comfortable with the various ways English pronunciation gets mangled from Texas to Quebec to New Hampshire to Cancun, so it's likely that the person you're talking to has an even harder time than you with their conversation partner's accent. It's just a reminder that America, and even what we usually think of as the "English-speaking world," doesn't own English.

Four years ago when I was here I worked with Nels Beckman, a recent CMU grad, and Aditya, the full time employee I'm also working with this time. Nels got there first and we tried to have a Skype conversation, and Aditya and I could.not.understand.each.other at all. Nels could understand Aditya becasue they were in the same room, and Nels and I could understand each other over the finicky Skype connection because we both speak Globalized Southern American English or whatever, but my mentor and I were hopeless - Nels almost repeated everything either one of us said for the benefit of the other. Anyway, this was all prompted by a five minute conversation I had with Aditya explaining what a "thing-a-ma-jig" is.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Yeah, people have pegged me out here as very American sounding. Some even guess California.