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TALKING POINT

The foreign phoneys

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<b>THE INDIAN ACCENT </b><br><br>While many Indians temporarily transform into Hollywood-types, using words like Eye-raq and Af-gainistan, there is the Indian stereotype that exists and entertains in the West. Remember the sardarji in the hilarious 'Mind Your Language' series or Apu the shopkeeper in 'The Simpsons'. India's love for the present continuous, probably spread abroad by our army of IT professionals, has established an image. In Anurag Mathur's side-splitting book The Inscrutable Americans, the protagonist's letter is a perfect example. "Younger brother, I am having so many things to tell you that I am not knowing where to start. " But still, right or wrong, we can talk English, we can walk English and we can murder English. We are like this only!

The foreign phoneys

Manas Gupta | May 7, 2011


THE INDIAN ACCENT

While many Indians temporarily transform into Hollywood-types, using words like Eye-raq and Af-gainistan, there is the Indian stereotype that exists and entertains in the West. Remember the sardarji in the hilarious 'Mind Your Language' series or Apu the shopkeeper in 'The Simpsons'. India's love for the present continuous, probably spread abroad by our army of IT professionals, has established an image. In Anurag Mathur's side-splitting book The Inscrutable Americans, the protagonist's letter is a perfect example. "Younger brother, I am having so many things to tell you that I am not knowing where to start. " But still, right or wrong, we can talk English, we can walk English and we can murder English. We are like this only!

<b>HAPPY HOLIDAZED </b><br><br>Ever encountered a person who develops a Sean Connery accent overnight? Chances are he's back from a 10-day vacation in Thailand and he picked up the accent from the 5-minute conversation with a British stewardess. With international flights getting cheaper by the day, the path to a phoney accent has gotten much shorter. It allows Chunnu's mummy from the neighbourhood to have a quick 'hauliday' in 'Canaada'. And when she returns, she startles you with a "Oh I say, how've you been old chap?" Apparently, one can barter common sense for a British drawl abroad. These folks believe, when in Rome do as the Romans, and when back home, bring Rome along.

The foreign phoneys

Manas Gupta | May 7, 2011


HAPPY HOLIDAZED

Ever encountered a person who develops a Sean Connery accent overnight? Chances are he's back from a 10-day vacation in Thailand and he picked up the accent from the 5-minute conversation with a British stewardess. With international flights getting cheaper by the day, the path to a phoney accent has gotten much shorter. It allows Chunnu's mummy from the neighbourhood to have a quick 'hauliday' in 'Canaada'. And when she returns, she startles you with a "Oh I say, how've you been old chap?" Apparently, one can barter common sense for a British drawl abroad. These folks believe, when in Rome do as the Romans, and when back home, bring Rome along.

<b>FROM COWBELT TO COWBOY </b><br><br>Joyeeta Jindal was shocked when her friend Rajan, who had difficulty pronouncing words like potatoes and pizza, suddenly developed an American twang and asked her out on a pizza date. Concerned for his well being and stunned by his discovery of the 'Z' alphabet, she probed a little only to discover that Rajan - who hails from a small town in UP - had just finished training at a call centre. His new favourite word was awesome (pronounced 'aasum' ) and he greeted people with a 'howdy'. The BPO industry has single-handedly transformed a generation into a junk-eating, junk-spewing pseudo-American society. To think that some years ago, everyone wanted to go to 'Amarica'. Well, 'Amarica' has come to us.

The foreign phoneys

Manas Gupta | May 7, 2011


FROM COWBELT TO COWBOY

Joyeeta Jindal was shocked when her friend Rajan, who had difficulty pronouncing words like potatoes and pizza, suddenly developed an American twang and asked her out on a pizza date. Concerned for his well being and stunned by his discovery of the 'Z' alphabet, she probed a little only to discover that Rajan - who hails from a small town in UP - had just finished training at a call centre. His new favourite word was awesome (pronounced 'aasum' ) and he greeted people with a 'howdy'. The BPO industry has single-handedly transformed a generation into a junk-eating, junk-spewing pseudo-American society. To think that some years ago, everyone wanted to go to 'Amarica'. Well, 'Amarica' has come to us.

<b>WRONG TIME, WRONG PLACE </b><br><br>Some geniuses goof up on the timing factor, not knowing when and where to use their accent. They will often expend their limited vocabulary with the right sounds and fancy accent on a poor waiter or a salesman in a small shop. The victim of their fancy tirade may just stare back or respond with a 'huh?' They don't let such minor details stop them. Of course, when they mingle with their high-society friends, the Oxford accent goes out of the window. Crude, profanitylaced banter is the order of the day. Folks, if you can't time a phoney accent, you don't deserve an accent at all. Try normal. Achcha hai!

The foreign phoneys

Manas Gupta | May 7, 2011


WRONG TIME, WRONG PLACE

Some geniuses goof up on the timing factor, not knowing when and where to use their accent. They will often expend their limited vocabulary with the right sounds and fancy accent on a poor waiter or a salesman in a small shop. The victim of their fancy tirade may just stare back or respond with a 'huh?' They don't let such minor details stop them. Of course, when they mingle with their high-society friends, the Oxford accent goes out of the window. Crude, profanitylaced banter is the order of the day. Folks, if you can't time a phoney accent, you don't deserve an accent at all. Try normal. Achcha hai!

<b>FIRANG DE BASANTI </b><br><br>Skin colour, it seems, often decides the choice of fake accents some people use. White skin means they have to talk 'Amrikan' or 'British'. Never mind the fact that they may be talking to someone from Italy or Jordon or Argentina. For non-Caucasian countries, broken Hinglish is enough, sometimes even interspersed with racist comments muttered under the breath. Overall, there almost seems to be an irrepressible desire to impress the 'firang' with the accent they picked up from watching Rambo-III some 12 times. A close encounter with the foreign kind probably releases some enzyme in the brain, which temporarily obscures the logic compartment.

The foreign phoneys

Manas Gupta | May 7, 2011


FIRANG DE BASANTI

Skin colour, it seems, often decides the choice of fake accents some people use. White skin means they have to talk 'Amrikan' or 'British'. Never mind the fact that they may be talking to someone from Italy or Jordon or Argentina. For non-Caucasian countries, broken Hinglish is enough, sometimes even interspersed with racist comments muttered under the breath. Overall, there almost seems to be an irrepressible desire to impress the 'firang' with the accent they picked up from watching Rambo-III some 12 times. A close encounter with the foreign kind probably releases some enzyme in the brain, which temporarily obscures the logic compartment.

<b>SILLY CELLULOID </b><br><br>How deeply the Western stereotype is embedded in our psyche can be gauged from a dose of pre- '90s Bollywood films. A foreigner in a film, usually a villain with a ghastly scar, would always be fluent in Hindi but speak in a silly accent, rolling the 'R's and doing away with the gender, as if to scream at the viewer: "See, I am foreigner!" Separately, a look at the reality shows on TV shows another affliction in celebrities. It's the use of the term 'You all', pronounced "Y'all", Harlem style. It's frequently used by judges on TV and is often followed by the word 'both'. <br>"Y'all both were very good today!" <br>"Oh, " it dawns on the contestant, "so they mean all two of us". Y'all is well.

The foreign phoneys

Manas Gupta | May 7, 2011


SILLY CELLULOID

How deeply the Western stereotype is embedded in our psyche can be gauged from a dose of pre- '90s Bollywood films. A foreigner in a film, usually a villain with a ghastly scar, would always be fluent in Hindi but speak in a silly accent, rolling the 'R's and doing away with the gender, as if to scream at the viewer: "See, I am foreigner!" Separately, a look at the reality shows on TV shows another affliction in celebrities. It's the use of the term 'You all', pronounced "Y'all", Harlem style. It's frequently used by judges on TV and is often followed by the word 'both'.
"Y'all both were very good today!"
"Oh, " it dawns on the contestant, "so they mean all two of us". Y'all is well.

<b>SHOP TALK </b><br><br>Necessity is the mother of invention, and also accents. Some people are forced to develop foreign drawls out of business compulsions. Salesmen in Jaipur often switch easily between Hindi and heavily accented English without missing a beat. The customer always comes first. In Goa, touts for adventure sports and hotels run after Russians screaming Da and Nyet. And one can now discover shopkeepers speaking Hebrew in Manali. If putting the customer at ease means adopting his accent, so be it. The BPO industry is not the only one with business sense, eh?

The foreign phoneys

Manas Gupta | May 7, 2011


SHOP TALK

Necessity is the mother of invention, and also accents. Some people are forced to develop foreign drawls out of business compulsions. Salesmen in Jaipur often switch easily between Hindi and heavily accented English without missing a beat. The customer always comes first. In Goa, touts for adventure sports and hotels run after Russians screaming Da and Nyet. And one can now discover shopkeepers speaking Hebrew in Manali. If putting the customer at ease means adopting his accent, so be it. The BPO industry is not the only one with business sense, eh?

Next

Reader's opinion (7)

Surabhi PandeyMay 13th, 2011 at 12:53 PM

An interesting and impressive write-up.

Manan GaubaMay 12th, 2011 at 15:06 PM

good depiction and enjoyable read..you might want to research and go a little deeper..iingland really catches quickest on desi accents- from 'caught' to 'cot', 'water' to 'woter' and so on.. :-)

El DrognikMay 12th, 2011 at 02:52 AM

Re Y'all: this has been in the Anglo-Indian vernacular for over 60 years. Or is this a new Y'all?

Pradeep GoorhaMay 10th, 2011 at 22:15 PM

Good, but just a start. Tip of the proverbial iceberg. Go on, Aradhana. The subject is a veritable gold mine.

Akhil AggarwalMay 10th, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Awesome(Aasum) take on the desi firangis...Only shows our affliction towards the high-heeled cowboys!!!

Akhlesh LakhtakiaMay 8th, 2011 at 18:01 PM

Funny, funny!

Nikhil KumthekarMay 8th, 2011 at 12:13 PM

it is impressive

 
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