Thursday, November 29, 2007

Speak correct, O really?

A few incidents (and people) have made me a lot more tolerant to people who have a difficulty expressing themselves in English. People get irritated or scorn at, or poke fun at someone on account of his/her accent. To an extent, fun is fine, but scorn? Hello... We weren't born speaking English, you know?

In India, it is not surprising to see, rather hear, English take a different accent after every 100 kilometers or so of travel.

In Gujarat, the pronounciations are more flat and slack- snacks becomes snakes, sauce becomes sose, hall becomes hole. But the snacks and the sauce in the wedding hall remain as warm and as inviting as the Gujjus, don't they?

Down South, take Kerala for instance, the pronounciations become very yiddy. I mean, each word seems to have a distinct drawl of the 'y' and the 'd' sound in it. Like my friend's mom and dad, they have this endearing accent to their impeccable English. But I still love the dosas and the sambhar, don't I?

Welcome to the East, Welcome to Bengal. Here, people forget the existence of any sound related to 'Va'. 'Ebry thing is bery bery much by the rulebook' in the communist state. The Bangla brothers and sisters often round up their words with an over-pronounced 'O' and they replace words with 'v' often by the sound of 'b'. I love the mishti-doi all the same.

I haven't been to the north much, so can't pin-point an exact accent. But I am sure, even North, and in that too, the different states and the different regions have their own, unique English drawl.

So then, is one type of English accent more correct than the other? And what is the basis of comparision anyway? Is one accent-that perfect convent-bred, the acceptable one and the other, simple, straight and mixed up with a distinct native feel- desi and down-market types?

Has English come to be a status-symbol in India than being a mode of communication? Think about it. And also think, if judgements based on the face-value of someone's accent are fair enough?

Now, why have I written so much about the variables related to English accents in India?
Here you go: 'British-Indian wins discrimination case over accent'

Read up, Enjoy and Think...

Cya till my next post...

-Gauri Gharpure

I wrote one article for The Times of India, one of my favorites, on Gujjus and their sporting spirit, their ability to tide away the accent jokes in a true gujju spirit. It would have been good to reproduce it here, but can't for I seem to have lost the copy. :( I hope this was a read good enough...