Saturday, February 6

Whose Accent is it anyway?

I was loitering around a shop yesterday looking for something I could pick up, nothing specific in mind. Just then two girls, may be around 20, came and stood behind me. Both of them kept talking non-stop, without the slightest care that there was someone standing within audible range. I tried not to listen, but failed. All other things aside, what did strike as amusing to me was the accent they were talking in.  
It was the unmistakable ‘made-up’ accent we find common amongst most teenagers and call-centre people these days. Strained, deliberate and trying-too-hard-to-sound-right type. The use of correct words and grammar didn’t really seem to bother them a lot, but their ‘accent’ never slipped. Someone sure did a clean job! Kudos!
With the increasing influence of the west on our youth and our culture(and call centres mushrooming in every nook and corner of metros) a new breed of people is coming up slowly and steadily, the ones that are confused and pathetically caught between the two. These are the ones who would go to any lengths to be a part of the ‘hep-n-happening’ crowd. So to begin with, this ‘fake’ accent is a reliable style-mantra. It’s hilarious seeing these people rattle something that’s not easy for them to understand.
This whole ‘accented’ speaking is not new to us Indians though. If we travel the length and breadth of India we’ll find a new culture and a new language every few hours. Every state has a different language, a different tone, a different dialect that identifies every person belonging to that region.  That’s why we’d never confuse a Bengali with a South-Indian or a Gujrati with a North-Indian. It is what we can call the ‘gift of the land’.
Let’s ask ourselves this: is it necessary to have an accent? Well, I don’t think so. I feel an accent is not learnt, it is acquired. The language that we’ve been speaking since childhood sure has a strong imprint on us, and it does come out even when we’re talking in some other language.
As far as British and American accents are concerned, the way English is used and taught in these countries is very different from us. The rolling of tongue, the pronunciation, the stressing on words is different. Hence to acquire it is quite an exercise for us.
Personally, I’m proud of the fact that I don’t have an accent. If I want, I can learn any language and use it like I’m born with it. Nothing can give me away. This I feel is better than the ‘fake’ accents people pick up and revel on. Are they so fixated not to understand that people can see through them?
It is not just about the way of speaking; our roots, our education, our individuality make us the person we are.  All these put together certainly can give us the confidence and poise that nothing else can. Hence accent or no accent, what really matters is our belief in us. We shouldn’t feel the need to portray ourselves as someone we’re not or even try to hide what we are.
Finally, whether accents are good/essential/stylish or not is a debatable issue, and I’d leave it to others to decide. To each his own!
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