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Whose Accent is it anyway?

I was loitering around the mall the other day looking for something to buy, nothing specific in mind. Just then two girls came and stood behind me and started talking loudly, completely oblivious to the fact that someone was within audible range. What struck me as curious was the obvious, typical ‘fake’ accent they were talking in.

It was the unmistakable ‘made-up’ accent we find common amongst most teenagers  thesedays. 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 culture a new breed of people is coming up slowly and steadily. They are confused and pathetically caught between these 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 themselves.

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 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 would 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 though? 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 perfectly may be 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!

26 thoughts on “Whose Accent is it anyway?

  1. There are some places where in the accent matters when you are at job at a call centre but that too, not always. Other than that, i too fail to understand the acquired or to-be accent of the modern youth. I never get how an accent is related to your being in the front. Good for them if they need it, but personally, i feel, there are a majority who think and opine that it is an unnecessary show off and nothing else. An accent is no excuse for the lack of belief or the wanna be in you to hide.

  2. Ahh you rightly mentioned that it is quickly workable and reliable style mantra to get in the 'happening' gang 😉 We of course never did went after the accent and going forward I'm sure we are not going to run after it 🙂

  3. Excellent post, yes, we are trying to ape something that is not ours, and not in the right way. Beyond the accent even the writing language, especially in popular networking sites has come down a lot. P.S I have posted a post on this too under the title Mind your Language….

  4. Great points Varsha :DIn a country like Australia with a multicultural population aping accents from the people of European decent often produces hilarious outcomes.I agree your workplace might demand you to behave or present in a certain way, but being yourself is the safest and the best way to go.Keep up the good work :DCheers!!

  5. @Garf: Exactly…in the process of portraying themselves as someone they're not our youth get confused with their own identity and are caught up in between…@Nu: Yes we never went after it and we never will..isn't the 'fake' thing difficult to hide at the first place? @Analyst: True…written English needs one to have some level of expertise…spoken English no matter how wrong or polluted it is can be passed on as 'modern lingo'@CB: That's exactly what I wanted to bring out..the demands of your workplace can be understood…but once you're out you need to be yourself!

  6. today's youth is caught between east and west….Language doesn't matter to them but the style does!!people like different style and accent of our's but they don't seem to have any rule or terms to define rightly said abt the craze of being "hep n happening" person

  7. First things first, Varsh it is a such a pleasure reading a post of 2010 by you, I had no clue you are such a veteran blogger and your post on accent still holds equally true today, almost ten years later

  8. Wow I didn’t know you’ve had your blog since 2010! As to accents, they really are a strange thing. A fake airport accent is one thing, but often our social conditioning and choice of TV serials ensure we develop an accent without even knowing it!

  9. There’s no doubt that today’s generation is pressurized by the fast changing social norms and the internet has connected them to people from across the world.They try hard to speak in the different accent probably to get noticed and be popular among their peers.

    9Snehalata Jain)

  10. Its totally upto an individual how they pronounce and speak. Accent depends on the way we are taught as kids. Just realized it’s a 2010 post having so much relevance even today

  11. Yes! You are true dear. Accent shows our roots and identity so we should proud of it whether it is Gujarati ,Marathi or any other. Judging on the basis of accent is totally wrong.

  12. I agree! My kid is fascinated with accents that she hears around her and tries to incorporate it in her talk. I have been trying to explain her the same thing, but I guess it will take some more nudging.

  13. This post is relevant even now, Varsha. Rather maybe even stronger than earlier. We Indians are quick to adapt, mostly the new gen, sadly the fad-trends like a particular accent is one of them. A psychological need to fit in the image of modern young crowd might be one of the major reason for this. I love your analysis here.

  14. Bang on Varsha! Very true that people should have the real accent with which they have grown . If they really wanna imply American accent then that should be learnt the right way .

  15. Although I agree that made up accents are not as cool as people think they are, but I also have a slightly different opinion here. A lot of times your accent is derived from your mother tongue and the place where you grew up. I see a lot of people demeaning people with those accents & making fun of their accent, which again, I think is very wrong.

  16. A 9 year old blog post, but still so relevant. The blooming of call centres at that time had brought this sudden fake accent amongst youth, i feel. However, showing that off work was not necessary

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