26 Jan 2006

Hard English

By now, most people know how the Indian accent sounds like. And I have always wondered why it is odd. A few years ago, I happened to hear a word that I feel describes it the best: Hard.

That’s right. Indians generally (there are always the exceptions) pronounce the words a touch harder. That’s probably due to the influence of their mother tongue (Hindi, Tamil etc.).

When I first came to Singapore, I faced a big communication problem. My English wasn’t that bad, but I could hardly understand what the people spoke. They understood me more or less, but they were so ahem amused at my accent that they burst out laughing whenever they tried to reply.

Putting aside their parochiality for a moment, I could understand their behaviour… It would be the same case if a Chinese came to India and spoke with the locals. After watching Russel Peters, I am convinced their isn’t any accent-less English per se, and as English has proliferated to almost every corner of the world, it has been customised by the locals to suit their own way of life.

But we definitely can be more sensitive to others, because not everyone is going to be nice like me. Someone else can easily lose his cool and go offensive.

I have often been hurt by such behaviour, but instead of meaninglessly wrestling with such myopic individuals, I learnt to adapt and polish up my English.

And of course, it is an on going process, which is currently facing a rather stern test here in India, where I absolutely have no necessity to use English at all.

Sigh, I really don’t want to lose it, and the best way to retain what little I had will be to read, read and read. And of course, vomit some of my precious thoughts into this pensieve.

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