Friday, November 21, 2014

On the Beauty of Accents and Mixed Languages

I'll never understand the obsession with having a British or an American accent. Sure, English English and its many dialects sound sexy when it's Englishmen speaking them. But to tell you the truth, there's something adorable about a local Indian accent, especially when it is pronounced enough to seemingly affect fluency. It's true - the less accented your language, the more proper it becomes - but I feel, the more proper it is, the less personality it has. I  know someone who speaks perfectly good English with a charming Tamilian accent that makes me jealous. Mine is a funny half (school-learnt) Indian, half (nicked-from-TV) bad American accent. I've been told I don't sound Marathi. But I'm not sure I sound anywhere.

I don't think accents deserve the prejudice they're given - although, what does, for that matter. I think accents are beautiful. They add character, carve out an identity. Your accent is your heritage, your culture, a bit of home that you can carry around with yourself, and carry with pride. And I think it goes without saying, there is nothing less attractive than an Indian faking an American accent to sound khool.

Hinglish used to annoy me. Writers like Chetan Bhagat who Indianized their English with desi words seemed to me to be committing some sort of crime. I strutted around, nose in the air, for being one of the 'correct' people who never sneaked Marathi or Hindi words into their English. Very priggish of me. I love now how people in India can easily mix languages, slip into their mother tongue and back. English is a foreign language, all we do is make it comfortable by giving it a touch of ours. Nothing wrong with that. In a country with so many languages, English becomes a uniting bhasha, and we have every right to personalize it. Just think how casually we play with our bi-, often multi-lingualism: it's awesome. 

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