Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Huh, What was that again?

I am convinced that I should have developed into a high-profile, Armani-wearing, Jaguar-driving executive by now. After blaming my high school math teacher, my crooked teeth and my rotten toe nails for not becoming the highly successful person I should have been, I have finally realized where the true problem lay. In my Fake American Accent (FAA). The last time I was giving a presentation, I was more focused in figuring out how to pronounce ‘route’ …rowt or root? By the time the word presented itself in front of me, I was so exhilarated by the possibility of masking my Indian accent that I forgot what point I was trying to make. So with a painful expression, I ended up drawling, 'I just had a Rowt-canal.'

I am screwing up so bad that the whites have started to think my FAA is actually the way we Indians normally speak. Then an Indian colleague comes along and confuses them even more by saying this is actually the British Accent because the British taught us how to speak English during their extended stay in our country.

When we first came to USA, we had to repeat words twice and spell out our names. Frustration crept in pretty quick and we changed the way we spoke and shortened our names. ‘Hi, table for two…the name is Sue!’ But there are some of us who are stubborn and stick to our roots (or maybe routes). We continue to spell out the 14 letters of our last name…D as in David, A as in Adam, H as in Jesus…and by the time we are done, we have the all the biblical names covered and the person typing the name gasping for breath. ‘Sorry’, I say (not feeling apologetic at all), 'My parent’s way of teaching me the alphabet.’

It always helps to try and fit in, to enable the majority to comprehend you so that you can be sucessful in half the time it takes for a person repeating words. The intention is to be global, but in the end of the day we get drawn to the people with whom we can converse with ease and poke fun of their FAA. Hence for most part, Indians hang out with Indians, Chinese with Chinese and Mallus with Mallus.

When I am with Indians, I don’t stop talking- all the time thinking that the universe might vanish without hearing what I have to say. But with the Americans, I am unusually tongue tied, busy forming sentences in my mind with the FAA. When I catch myself saying something in my Indian accent, I correct it immediately making it look even more preposterous. I squirm and to cover up, I reach for the cookie and stuff my mouth and keep nodding. So for most of the conversation I stick to -Sure! Awesome! Yeah! Kewwl! and of course, the universal hahaha!. So Americans think I am dumb at the best and psycho at the worst.

I do not impress anyone anyway. So I have made up my mind. I am sticking to what I am comfortable with. I will speak like an Indian, with pride. After all, I need to give the Americans a chance to be global. If they don’t understand my English language, they’ll at least get my body language. *finger shooting up*


rossoneri said...


deepa said...

way to go alpha, don't we have the best accents anyways. We desis I mean? You can massacre the English language in so many ways and we do as a beautiful job of it as say a bloke from yorkshire!

Also read somewhere recently that more people in the world today speak a mogrel version of english then the so called "propah english"( what is the proper way anyways?)

dedicated alpha fan said...

lol !! FAA .....that was just too good !!

:-) said...

"refreshingly funny"
"Two thumbs up" ....

Alpha said...


deepa: if a million and a half people say what they say, it must be right. (in different accents of course)

daf: thanks..and seriously, dedicated?

smiley: haha...which book was that you are recommending?

Anonymous said...

you cant be serious with this post......with your english skills- who the hell cares about the accent.....and coz you're my kind of gal- i remain an ardent reader of your posts.

Munimma said...

vat to do, ve are like thuT vonly!

But the language is so resilient, it can take that and loads more :-)

And if you believe in the relativity theory, this might make you feel better!

bloghopper said...

In that case you should hear the orientals speaking/writing english ! Pure torture !!

Alpha said...

m: I am serious...I would be much better off not bothering to roll my 'rrrs'. but thanks for that! I can compensate my lack of white accent by over-confidence.

munimma: phew! always need to see the other perspective to motivate you further.

bh: so are they more successful than me? you ought to let me know, I wull solely thaaaalt talking like she.

Anonymous said...


if you "post a letter," like i still do once in a while, no degree of accenting or accentuating will never get you nowhere!

"I wull solely thaaaalt talking like she."

don't talk solely, your lips might get sole!

- s.b.

Ravages/CC said...

You are lucky. Some of us have 14 letter first names and 14 letter second names and 4 letter caste names to, phew, spell out and ensure it doesn't get butchered. Or worse, morphs into a indhi cuss word.

Anu said...

thank goodness. now u wont switch from "wokay di" to "okhhay" and confuse the hell out of me when on the phone.

Rationale said...

Good rant this one!

The Americans in my circle try to imitate the Indian/European/Middle Eastern accents- its come to be more of a party trick. Anything to amuse, I guess! "hahaha"

NAPP said...

Hey Alpha,

You sure are a trendsetter... and refreshingly Original !!!!!

Alpha said...

sb: you mean, 'mail' the letter?

anu: whatever rocks your boat di. *confused as hell as to who this is*

rationale: danks. that's a cool game. I guess i wont be able to go much beyond the biharis.

napp: thanks so much. i just hope for the betterment of society at large, i dont end up setting any trend.

Alpha said...

ravages: even in the land of plenty indians?

sunshine said...

can totally relate to being a "low-talker" at work becuz of the FAA!! my lack of NFL knowledge further hurts my conversational skills :(

Anonymous said...

Now, gimme 2 months and then check out mah F eh eh... I'm learning to repeat myself at least twice in each conversation; and you thought I had an accent? :-P

Talk to you soon. :-) Now in MA.

_ heretic