Is that the American accent we hear???


After about 15 months in the US I made a trip to “aamchi Mumbai”. As expected, I was under a lot of scrutiny for a number of things including my dress sense, my attitude towards rules, my language and of course my accent.

While I understand and have come across this situation a number of times in the past when my friends had taken trips back home once settled abroad, it did feel a bit strange when I was subject to the scrutiny.

I have also noticed that a number of Indians a.k.a. desis do acquire an American accent almost immediately after shifting to the US. Is it really so “In or cool” to have an American/ Foreign accent?  What is the problem with having an Indian accent?

When I came to the US last year, in the first few months I was forced to question whether I spoke English at all?? (this after completing my entire education in English). No one could understand what I said (specially call center executives.. funny isnt it? given that most of them are allegedly from India) and I most definitely could not understand what was said to me. What I have yet to understand is that while I and many other Indians (living in India) do make an effort to learn and understand the non-Indian way of speaking English.. is it really so difficult to understand how Indians speak? Why is an effort also not made in the other direction by non-Indians?

Nonetheless, over the past one year, I have learnt the “American” style of speaking English. Now I get by easily with most of my work in the US and can actually carry out meaningful conversations without a 100 “Whats?” in the picture. Though even today I try and speak English the way I learnt it…. just to stay true to my roots.

Nimita (name changed) my ABCD cousin has a favorite pasttime whenever she meets me… “Say Amazon”…. She finds my Indian accent incredibly funny and essentially the “wrong way” of saying things…I have always pronounced Amazon with an emphasis on the second a… Amaaazon…. and she places emphasis on the first a – Aamazon… so she proclaims “you say it all wrong… in the Indian accent”… And I always argue back…”I say it differently. yes, but not incorrectly”. Is there really a right way to speak a language? I always thought that once the purpose of communication is served, language has done its job…. isn’t that true?

Also why should anyone consciously look for an accent in the language of someone who has returned on vacation to India? Why on a sub-conscious level it is treated like an anti-patriotic crime? Why all the interest in the accent?

Does anyone have answers or theories to support my multitude of questions?

One Response to “Is that the American accent we hear???”
  1. prashant says:

    well i think if we can communicate effectively accent does not matter. Keep up the good work

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