Friday, July 15, 2005

Accent virus

I came. I saw. I heard. I caught an accent. The accent virus (unlike the common cold virus) has finally been nailed.

Th virus affected more persons than a common cold. Affected persons were perfectly sane people who spoke Inglish. A visit to America and the accent would catch on. Inglish (the Indian way of speaking English) would give way to Americanese (yeah, the same thing). Words become gnarled on the tongue. Simple, straightforward "processes" become "processeees", "ands" would be preceded by a tarzanish eeaah. The bigger symptoms were that the infected persons R's were rolled and S's emanate d from somewhere lower down in the stomach, where stethoscopes could not reach. Three days was all it took to catch an accent. Accents are or were, I believe, contagious. They were also uncurable. Once caught, the victims lived with it. They were caught through (according to various research) food, water, air or by watching any foreign news channel. It found its way through the highest security. Accents were duplicated faster than duplicates. It was peculiar that the accent that the infected acquired was always a US or UK version. The African, West Indian, Japanese accent was never as infectious. Indeed a visit to these "non-infectious" nations sometimes created a similar symptoms of the Americanese kind. While researchers struggled over the causes, something happened.

The triple dose of the BPO vaccine and Channel V and cricket commentary have all but made the accent infra dig. The first one suddenly made the infection less potent since the BPO virus ensured that any call center associate would have a learned (and hence polished) accent that was far better than the infected accent. The second one of Channel V, "We are like this wonly" made us proud of "Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani". The third showed our very own Gavaskar, Harsha Bhogle hold their own against other accomplished commentators each of whom spoke with their own accent (Michaeal Holding being a prime example). Today, Inglish ( the accent, I mean) is a symbol of India and perhaps a symbol of national pride as well.


Jayesh said...


Good post . But the accents do matter in certain kind of sectors, certain MNCs and whom you report to. Indianized English is still what the vast majority still speaks. Also the accent should not make one oblivious to Indian insights. I have covered the South Mumbai stereotype in my latest post which also is sometimes out of touch with India.

Neelakantan said...

I disagree with that. An accent is what you put on when you want to be identified with someone/something. Expats, foreigners are not so concerned with accents (I have worked a few of them myself).
But the second part of your comment is nice. An accent is something people used to put on to say "Oh, well, we are different from the hoi polloi". But I think those days when an accent got you noticed are gone.

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