The ‘Accent’

I’ve been fascinated by the American accent since a long time. Like my parents, I started watching English and American soap operas and sitcoms since I was a kid. At the age of 10 I started listening to English songs and have been doing so till now. Growing up in that type of atmosphere made a great impact on my accent and pronunciation. To be honest, I have a touch of American accent in my spoken English. On the other hand my sister is obsessed with British accent and One Direction, I am not a fan of either of them (No Offense!). But my dislike is more towards the Boy Band. Most people usually fake an accent just to look cool. Well, that’s a whole another story to be discussed later.

The main objective of writing this post is my frustration. As a kid I used to laugh while watching sitcoms including Indian actors. But by the time I turned into a teenager, it wasn’t funny anymore and I was like “Hey! Indians do not speak English like ‘that’”. I repeat, they do NOT! Till a point it’s funny but after that it’s racism. I have many examples where Indians are made to look like fools in everybody’s eyes.

I’ll start with Outsourced. It is a televised version of the movie by the same name. A guy names Todd is transferred to Mumbai, India where he is supposed to train his replacement. Now, the Indian actors there are of American descent and they are ‘made’ to speak like that. But my question is why? No Indian would pronounce Todd as ‘Toad’. Is their script that bad that they need to make fun of someone just to add the ‘humor’?

Another sitcom I watched was Citizen Khan. It is the first South-Asian themed British based sitcom. I didn’t watch it after the first episode. Again, I’ll come to the same point: Indians do not speak like this. Even the make-up of one of the daughter’s is horrible!

Last but not the least, the Epic The Big Bang Theory. No doubt I like it but again, look at Raj and his sister. It’s at least tolerable in comparison to the other two shows I mentioned above.

Now many people will ask that being Indians they are acting and speaking like that, why don’t they stop this stereotype? My answer: Why would they? They’re getting paid for it! But we need to understand the difference between humor and racism.

(The motive of writing this post was not to offend someone; it is just what I think.)

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1 Comment

  1. Very interesting! I am just beginning English as a Second Language courses for this term here at a College in London. I am a College Lecturer who has lived all over the world, primarily in the American Mid-West (MN/WI) and London. Although I have been here 23 years and have even taken British Elocution Lessons in an attempt to develop a cultured British accent, I sound the same 23 years on as if I had landed at Heathrow this morning. Some people take to accents immediately; some people, for many varied reasons, seem almost to repel or shun them. This is different, of course, if your first language is not English. Then, it seems as though students adopt the accent of their Instructor(s). I just had a recent discussion with my Colleague and Director about this. What accent will my Students have? American? British? After all, a lot of these students move to London specifically to pick up a British accent. Will they be unhappy that a Yank is teaching them Hollywood-Speak? Or will they automatically pick up the British accent from their other teachers, friends, and being out on the London streets in British culture? I think that is what will happen. I think they also will think it VERY COOL to have a Teacher who not only knows the difference, but who can teach them the subtleties of American and British Slang, the “naughty words,” 😉 and the current neo-English that is so prevalent all over the Internet and Television. Despite how important it is for these students to learn PROPER English in Scientific and Business terms, I suspect that we will all have a very fun time practicing saying, “BAWston, Baaaahstan, and Boston!” Cool.

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