Thursday, August 13, 2009

Accent....{self - case study}

IMO, your accent contributes to your identity more than it does to any other thing/virtue.

Fact:

  • I have a Nigerian accent, not the 'concentrated' type that can be associated with a particular tribe but the bland 'Abuja-bred' type.
When I'm not in Nigeria, I have been confronted with the "I like your accent." statement
and I reply with the "It's Nigerian" line.
Sometimes, people ask "Where are you from? You have an accent", once I speak.
I reply, "I'm Nigerian. You have an accent too. Where are you from?"

My last response is only used to make someone aware that not because I don't speak like you means I have a strange accent. It seems the word, accent, now means a different way of speaking. Everyone has an accent, simply a manner of pronunciation. If I am to choose, I do not want adulterate my Nigerian accent and give in to the supposed American 'easy-on-the-ears' way of speaking.

When I went home, ie Budapest, last week, I was booking a cab, with an agency in the USA, via phone and my folks told me that I was using an American accent. Just in one year! I knew it was not American cos even some Americans do not understand me at first hearing, when I speak unconsciously with my Nigerian accent. My folks probably meant my way of speaking had changed.

After taking a self-check, I have come to the conclusion that when I'm communicating with non-Nigerian folks, I speak differently, consciously, dropping the Nigerian non-English phonetic sounds, and pronounce all words plainly. For instance, if you call my office phone, I will talk to you with a very plain English accent but I blow pidgin with my Nigerian accent, when on my mobile.

That plain accent has been labeled "American" by my Nigerian folks and "British" by some Americans. If I am to choose any top five preferred accents to have, the American accent will not even be included. I am far from interested in the American or some European country's accent.

This accent thing can become a 'phonetic war'. For example, when I speak French, I debate using the plain accent or Nigerian.

I just want to be understood faster.

34 comments:

Nice Anon said...

Errr right. Wanting to be understood is the ultimate goal.

SkinnyLegs said...

I totally get the "plain" thing...its the way I speak when I'm not in Nigeria.
Plus even in Nigeria if ur "accent" is not concentrated ure accused of being fake so pssshhh...its norrin

Rene said...

true....i still think i have my Nigerian accent but some folks tell me i don't.

Mz. Eniola said...

since no one scrrEAMED first lemme scream it! FIRRRSTTTTTTTTTTTT lol..nice anon , skinny legs n twinnie move aside =)

i totally understand it happns unconciously...me i just speak as it flows ^_^ nd skinny legs lol...ure so ryt pple do dat a lot..it gets annoyn o

leggy said...

i totally have a nigerian accent..i dont even try to hide it.
and girl im in meriden or something like that...is that near you?

leggy said...

i hate typing emails..thats why ive been wasting time.

Sugabelly said...

So this is the argument someone tried to have with me on my blog when I did the post about Oluchi.

As I explained before, I have MORE THAN ONE accent. There is nothing wrong or pretentious or fake about having more than one accent.

When I speak to Nigerians I enter Nigerian mode immediately. I see no reason to speak to Nigerians with an American accent.

When I speak to Americans I try to speak normally but sometimes Americans just refuse to hear anything you say unless you say it exactly the way they say it, so I keep that accent for them.

When I speak Igbo I'm in Igbo mode. No shaking.

Bubbles said...

dude
Nigerian people bug me about my accent, they tell me it sounds 'American'
meanwhile the american people tell me that my accent is different
so I just roll my eyes.
As long as people understand the english I'm speaking sha.!

Fabulo-la said...

U soeak French too?
girl I want to e like you when I grow up o. Ahn ahn...

As for the accents...I can only hope that one day i will not have to repeat myself a hundred times befre I am understood. Both here and in Naija...

David Numba-one God'sfave said...

i think it affects everyone of us.
but i do admit that I easily switch between both accents (nigerian and american) depending on my audience and mood!

The Americans say "hey you say you are Nigerian, how come you don't have an accent"

And some Nigerians will say "guy, your tongue never change sef"

And in either case I'm like...it's whatever, the most important thin is that you understand what I'm sayin...I would need to learn yoruba tho =(

Trybes said...

So funny how one has to deal with this every other day.

Just last night i was conversing over the phone with an akata babe and then she goes like..are you from England and when i asked why she was like..you speak like that british and really that was a turn off cuz im a born and bred Nigerian only here for better fortunes...

BSNC said...

i really feel this post. we all just want to be understood.

Myne Whitman said...

You said it very well, the goal is to be understood. For me, while I don't mind repeating myself for those who fail to understand me here, I NEVER want to have that problem in naija. So my naija accent stays. Nice write up.

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http://www.mynewhitmanwrites.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

well written...It gets really frustrating when i am trying to give a presentation and i see people squeezing their faces like they dont understand what i am talking about. I love my nigerian accent i just sometimes wish i had an american one so i could switch and be understood when needed.....

First time commenting on your blog...

leggy said...

just sent you an email,hun.

Chari said...

omo naija accent ol the way oh...I love and enjoy it gan!

bumight said...

it prolly means ure in between. u dont exactly have an american accent, but u dont have a nigerian one either. if ure in doubt, watch NTA or AIT, u'll hear very conc naija accents.
plus even in ur "nigerianized" mode, if u slow down, u'll prolly realize that u pronounce some words diff like (water, computer,etc) or ur intonation has changed.

Repressed One said...

I'm with Sugabelly. My accent switches up based on my audience. To some i sound British. Some Americans say i don't have an accent. When i'm with naijas, i blow pidgin, yoruba, and my english like i never left. I call home and some friends tell me i sound razz.
Omo, na anyone wey enter my mouth i dey speak as long as i'm understood.

Naughty Eyes said...

Having my relatives shuttle back and forth different countries means I get to hear several accents all at once. Never pay the accents any mind as long as I get the message, that's what I do.

First time commenting here. I think your writing has an accent too! Just kidding...

chayoma said...

Understanding,
that's all i want, is to be understood!
Shikina

muyiwa said...

Yeah accent counts a lot,i have a chinese friend over here that normally tells me that he like the way i speak,i dey always happy ooo cos english is our first language in naija,
@yinkus i mailed the question to you,so reply with answers.Thank you

miss.fab said...

This post = the truth

GiDiPwInCeSs said...

i get irritated tho when ppl that i know and i arrived here around the same period are already having an accent!!! abegi!!! its just fake!! i rock my 9ja accent with pride all the time..why will i change my accent to sound like thiers? do they change thiers to sound like mine?? i dnt think so..
there's bin a case where i needed to give a speech to a class..aka my presentation and my prof commented how nice my accent was but i shld alter it a bit so they could understand me..
i was a bit put off by it buhh... i mean.. i gave her wat she wanted cuz my marks wer at stake!!
rep your true accent whereva u are !! :)..lovely post btw..

Penelope said...

its naija accent all thee wayy jo. I remember this presentation i had...and cus i knew people would not understand me and to make my work faster, I just read in my naija accent all thru...smiled n went bck to my seat when i was done. I cnt stress mhn, if u dnt understand its nt my fault. blame it on the accent!! lol.
i sha got my full mark. :)

JeffM said...

I work at the L2 Accent Reduction Center in Vancouver, Canada (www.L2accent.com) I really enjoyed this post. A lot of our customers have said the same thing. They often slip back into their old habits after going back to their homes. It's true. Everyone has an accent. Some accents have negative connotations with some people though.

Miss Odukoya xx said...

This is a really good post..Accents!! Like Everytime I tell people in my school that I am Nigerian..They are soo shocked..The first thing they ask me is 'How come I dont have an accent?' which is funnY...
thanks for stopping by my blog :)

Bibi said...

babes, i totally understand your point. i get that a lot too. the where are you from question. i have an accent, so do you i always tell em. who cares about a stupid accent anyways, as long as i can understand you, i'm cool with it. lol

Lady X said...

Nigerians tell me I have a British Accent. Non Nigerians tell me I sound American. I don't even know which one to believe! I just speak English abeg!

rayo said...

i tnk its only normal to switch to a tone that makes it easier to be understood, ovadoin it is wn it gets pissin. i dnt even speak english, yoruba or pidgin in d same accent so nd that is within 9ja alone oh

Tigeress said...

welcome to America!

Toni Tones said...

Think whatever accent gets your point across is acceptable :-)

My blog link has now changed to http://tonitonesng.blogspot.com/ You should check out my latest post...

ShadeNonconformist said...

Definitely love this post. To reiterate what most people have said ,all we all long for is to be understood. Accent or no accent, if i can clearly and concisely convey my ideas to you, then i don't let no criticism faze moi.

Chi-Chi said...

Mehn, I feel you on this Assent post.
It really pisses me off when people fake their accents and whatnot
I truly can’t be bothered, but it’s cool if you use the American accent or which ever when needed.
I’m not necessarily interested in having an American/British accent, I just want to speak and be heard.

Chi-Chi said...

Mehn, I feel you on this Assent post.
It really pisses me off when people fake their accents and whatnot
I truly can’t be bothered, but it’s cool if you use the American accent or which ever when needed.
I’m not necessarily interested in having an American/British accent, I just want to speak and be heard.