Thursday, April 18, 2013

Transformation

This happened during high school days. I was a new joined to the school; a convent school run by the sisters of St. Josephs of Cluny. Why am I specifying the school name is that to give a gist of what to expect in this post. Anything convent is related to English; thats what the post is about. 

During the first few weeks at school, I was beginning to learn cursive writing that was mandatory there.  
Most things seemed new to me; right from the sophistication, confidence and √©lan the girls had. It was nothing like what I saw in my previous school where we were mellow and shy. 

The girls of my class would make fun of a certain girl whenever she spoke. She had a perfect English; but with an accent. I did not understand why the girls made fun of her. One day, she was reading out some text in the absence of the teacher; when some girls in unison started mimicking her. At first, she ignored, then she started crying and finally yelled at the class "You Idiots!". That was when I understood; it was her accent they were making fun of! 

Few days later, I learnt that her accent was 'normal'. Normal here means the way a south Indian would pronounce and speak English. That was until the summer holidays. Everything seemed to have turned upside down once the school reopened after vacation. She came back with an accent! I inquired if she visited any foreign land for such a transformation in those 60 days. Girls who stayed near her house told nothing of that sort happened. And none of us knew what led to the transformation. 

Jasmine continued to have this accent until our end of school. I do not know if any symptom inflicted her; the way they show in movies! 

Well, what reminded me of Jasmine and her accent was when today; at work. Couple of my team members and me were expressing the challenges of holding meetings over phone with Americans. The East Cosat slang was different from West Coast slang. Its tricky to be talking to a stranger over phone, and to be talking to folks with a strange accent of yours is still tough; and the other end has a stranger slang is more a challenge. A colleague then mentioned that during one of such calls; she put her phone on speaker when I was talking. Her husband thought that I was a foreigner (I think she meant a Westerner) after hearing me speak, because of my accent. 

Now I don't know when I transformed the way Jasmine transformed :-)

8 comments:

  1. When you are used to so much listening and talking to someone having different accent, that accidentally does falls on you one day, isn't it? There was an instance, I was talking to the local citizen, and suddenly to acknowledge what he said, I said "aye, aye"! Gosh, I never knew where that came from!

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    1. Anu,

      Umm some of the phrases yes. But not the accent per se isn't it? I mean, I can never 'roll my r' :-)

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  2. Accent, well well reminds me of how people have picked the notion that unless they force some stress and wired noises in their speech, it is deemed to be not English. As for the native languages they do not care much.

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    1. Anil,

      Perhaps. With me, I don't have a nasal twang and all that. My accent is more of neutral. If someone spoke to me, they couldn't make out which part of India I belonged to, that is what I meant to convey here.

      Thankfully, I haven't picked up any lingo or accent

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  3. Well.I can tell you that Punjabis are hardly the ones to comment on anyones English accent.
    They say...a Punjabi speaks in English only when he is either angry or drunk...either way..accent is the victim

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  4. Regionwise, yes one does pick accents. The trend for teenagers these days is to pick up a fake American accent! And thick accent can be annoying. I faced this problem when I spoke to Aussies. Their English is so difficult to understand. The only thing I do is speak real slow :).

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    1. :) Yeah, it is tough not to be influenced. And also, you tend to speak like them so that its easy for them to understand; we Indians are known to go beyond in being accommodative :)

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