After watching the musical “My Fair Lady” last Saturday, I feel like writing something about the English accent 🙂
Yeah, English is originally the language of Britain so probably only British people are supposed to be native speakers. No offence or sarcasm(!) That was just what I referred from a hilarious statement by Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady: “In America they haven’t spoken (English) for years”.
That quote reminds me of the time when I tried to establish my own English accent.
When I was at my 1st and 2nd year at university, I was not satisfied with my Vietnamese English teachers; therefore, I decided to “invest” in some English centers to have the chance to talk to native speakers. Thanks God (or not) I have the ability of a parrot that allows me to imitate quite correctly the accents of my teachers. And I happened to have so many American teachers, I followed their accent and felt very comfortable. During that time people could recognize the American accent very clearly when I spoke English.
But then one day..
.. we changed teacher. A British guy! He came in and made each of us read a passage. My turn. He listened for a while then commented at a very high tune: “Oh ho, we have here a VOA girl. Class, see? A VOA GIRL” – Then later on he explained his reaction to me that “American English is so nha que (means “countryside” and I bet it was the only Vietnamese word he knew)! How you say bird hah? B-i-r-r-r-r-r-r-d?!” Well, I understood that the guy was only joking but the parrot’s ability in me had to struggle to adapt to the new habit. From that time on my accent has become totally “disordered”.
Then I joined AIESEC, here I had more chance to interact with friends from all over the world and I realized that English had been used universally. Since AIESEC I have been talking much more to non-native speakers than native speakers and I started to adopt a bit of Chinese, a bit of Indian, a bit of German, a bit of everything and until now I can hardly know what accent I have. Friends told me after India “Aha, now you have a fantastic Vietnamese British Indian accent. Bravo!” – I was also laughing with them, nothing to feel offended ‘coz honestly speaking, what accent is that anyway?!
However, there was one thing that made me so happy with my accent or non-accent. It was when I stood in front of the high school students in Poland, the colleagues in India, the multi-national AIESEC community to deliver presentation, all of them understood me perfectly. And in fact, I don’t care about the accent any more for a long time already, I would be thankful to my non-accent English that allows people everywhere to understand me the best. So tell me why I need to know what accent I have? Well, probably I prefer calling it the “international accent”.. 😉
Below is a funny video of a British guy imitating 24 English accents. He spoke quite rubbish things, don’t pay attention to the content!