Author: Ela Britchkow, Speech and Language Pathologist, Accent Reduction Specialist
"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither."
This Blog recounts strong reactions that people have encountered that have changed their accent. The examples are young adult Indian experiences but other nationalities –Slav, Chinese, and Spanish etc...might find some common concerns. Please read the Blog even if you are not Indian and see if what is shared applies to your nationality as well.
Indians speaking with an American accent, both in the United States or in India can have its ups and downs.
The good part is that, despite the noise about Trump and his followers, Indians, can if they want to, take an equal active part in the United States.
Our society is actually becoming much more tolerant and accepting. As a speech therapist teaching non-native speakers to pronounce English with an American accent (Standard American English) I personally see very strong advantages to speaking with an American English pronunciation, www.clearenglishspeech.com, but recognize that it also has its downsides as well. For instance, if you speak with an American accent in America you will be better understood in general, but harder to understand by some in India and even by some Indians living here.
Indians do love accents but conditions apply. Returning Indians from English speaking countries report strong gender related reactions. Positively discovering their accent can make them more desirable to the opposite sex, increasing their “cool quotient.” Unfortunately, the inadvertent consequence is they might be shunned by their own sex.
Females like males with accents, but its war if another female has one. Males who drool over females with an accent may avoid or be abusive to other males with accents. Some people just feel insecure when they are talking to someone with an accent and behave inappropriately.
Many are concerned about appearing FAKE (farji), even sounding weird speaking American English. Indians may even ponder whether you were adopted or your parents were foreign born.
Feeling fake speaking like an American is very real and troubling to many Indians especially to those who are younger. This also applies to other non-native speakers as well in American society.
Every nationality I work with deals with national cultural identity on their journey to create a better life for themselves here. It has a lot to do with what you personally believe it means to be living in the United States with a strong positive Indian cultural identity. Changing your accent can really touch a very sensitive nerve and it takes courage to change your accent.
Indians which I have personally known that have been in this country longer and now speak with an American accent seem very satisfied. They sincerely wanted deep down to change their Indian accent.
They are doing well in their businesses and careers. They tell me they are very confident about their Indian identity. Many take pleasure regularly traveling back to India to connect with family and friends and conduct business.
So this might be a possible future for you as well. There is no doubt that the transition can be challenging. However, you might find that making the effort to pronounce American English is well worth the effort. You will still have the choice to speak with an Indian accent. It is normal when learning an American accent in the beginning to think that speaking with an American accent sounds fake.
There is an American saying, “sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it.” Make it means” that it now becomes the real genuine you. Your real friends will support your efforts and that is a blessing.
I would like to encourage all foreign language speakers to share their opinions and experiences with changing their accent.
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By Ela Britchkow, Speech and Language Pathologist
©2017 Ela Britchkow