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Akkare III: I can taak, waak and laaf English!!!

February 26, 2009

In the legendary words of Mohanlal, I declare, “I am the answer! I am the answer! Kilometers and kilometers, in these days of degenerating decency of Miami beach to Washington when diplomacy and supercity become interchangeable from complicated America to America”.

Did you get it? I most certainly did not!!! But unfortunately, my English has corroded to something like that now here in America.

At various stages in my life, I have been reduced to using primitive hand signals to communicate!! When I was very young, my parents tell me that it took an extraordinary time for me to speak and that they were worried for some time. In my defense, I have to say that I have always been bad at Tamil! At various other stages in my life, I have faced a similar situation and I have exercised my limbs a lot!!! But I never thought that I would face a problem with English!!! But I have been proven wrong by these (illiterate) Amerikans!!

English is truly a global language. We all know it, but unfortunately some lunatic (long back), decided that English should be spoken with a different accent here which makes life really difficult for us: THE DESI CROWD.

It was only after coming over here, did I realize that the “American Accent” (in Los Angeles) can be broadly classified into:
1. Normal American Accent.
2. Afro American Accent.
3. Mexican Accent.
4. Chinese Accent
5. Desi Accent
And I have nightmares in my sleep due to this. Often I have to repeat myself atleast 4 times to get my point across and I dread going through a “drive thru” coz I have to place my order through a microphone and I end up having a apoplexy every single time.

When I say “No Meat”, the other person invariably understands it as “More beef”!!! (I am a veggie until Nov 14th 2009).
The whites are pretty easy to handle. They understand you and you understand them and life is simple. We just need to decrease the delivery speed and life goes on normally. But I get lost, when I need to speak to the Mexicans.
You cannot throw a stone here in LA without hitting a Mexican; The same way you cannot throw a dime here without an Indian jumping to catch it!

The “englais” that they speak is 99 % Spanish peppered with a few words of English and the “Englishu” that I speak is with a thick mallu accent. So what happens when we interact???
Absolutely NOTHING!!
Very often, after a 100 retrials, when people in the queue behind me get fidgety, I start communicating in the most primitive language form known to man. I point to the dish that I want and I get my order!!

All said and done, there are two accents that I love here. The first one is the Texas drawl and the second is the Afro American accent. They are just great! These people just don’t speak, they take passion in speaking. I suppose that it is because of a inner talent that they have for singing, but the sentence just keeps going on and on and on……… but it comes out all wrong when I try to match them!!!

And thus, the life of this ordinary guy meanders along with many such roadblocks. I have practiced my “American Accent” a lot, but nothing seems to have worked so far but I will keep trying.

Hell, I have tried everything; I have tried speaking with a nasal accent, I have tried modulating the word flow, I have tried restricting my trachea, have tried fine tuning my larynx, have tried speaking with a big julab jamun in my mouth, have tried spitting the words out of my mouth and I have even tried meditation and yoga!! But I have been defeated every single time.

Before my first trip to America in 2007, my uncle advised me to not get the American accent, and I jokingly retorted that I would never lose my mallu accent and we had a good laugh at that time.
It is me who is crying now……

PS: The above dialogue is from a film called “Mazha Peyyunnu, Maddalam Kottunnu” and it is a laugh riot. This must watch dialog can be viewed in this link in which other people think that Mohanlal is a “From US returnee” and he plays along with them.

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36 Comments leave one →
  1. the twenty secondline permalink
    February 27, 2009 3:06 am

    if you are on the east coast you will hear more

    the real african accent ( from zambia ) who have had a british eduction

    the greek accent
    the italian accent
    the chinese accent
    the mediterranean/arabic accent

    ..anyways i had a good laugh reading –just today as i was getting an oil change i told the guys ” i have to learn spanish now “!

    spanish is truly the 2nd language in US

    anrosh ( came through solilo’s blog)

  2. Ordinary Guy permalink
    February 27, 2009 3:09 am

    🙂 anrosh… Thanks 🙂
    yes dude, completely agree, spanish is next biggest thing after english… 🙂

    and yes, now i need to visit the east coast… 🙂
    Thanks

  3. Bones permalink
    February 27, 2009 3:47 am

    Then you should visit the South – their accents are, well, sleepy…When you go to NYC, you’ll come across the NYC_Jewish accent…They don’t say ‘coffee’ but ‘koiffee’ and ‘ruff’instead of ‘roof’…I find the African-American very difficult to understand…

  4. Renu permalink
    February 27, 2009 4:16 am

    Lol:), so true, but I found the britishers english( in London) really difficult to even understand, for me London was a place with some unknown language:)

  5. Ordinary Guy permalink
    February 27, 2009 5:32 am

    Thanks Bones for letting me know.. 🙂
    and yes, I need to visit the sleepy south and NYC… 🙂
    and I dont understand AA english either… 🙂

    LOL Renu, I have not had a chance to go to england as yet… 🙂

  6. hitch writer permalink
    February 27, 2009 5:44 am

    me ordinary guy who has only travelld in india wouldnt be able to share much light on this…

    but have been dealing with a couple of swiss conuterparts and they are quite clear…

    had an exchange studen in our class from Amreeeka… his accent was a lil rough… his spellings were horrible !!

  7. Solilo permalink
    February 27, 2009 6:32 am

    Sakhaave oru beedi undo teepatti edukkan.

    You Mohanlal fan!

  8. Ordinary Guy permalink
    February 27, 2009 6:34 am

    hahahaha Hitchwriter… 🙂 best of luck in the future….

    and Solilo, I am watching the film now…….. 🙂

  9. Indyeah permalink
    February 27, 2009 6:40 am

    LOL!!Ajit 😀 that was hilarious to read!
    you use sign kanguage:D and point to the dish:D
    let me catch my breath first…though I am being cruel coz I have never been to ths US so I have no idea what you are talking about 🙂
    I can only chuckle and empathise a little:D

    I found the irish accents the toughest in the movies to understand ,an out and out irish accent ‘s damn hard to understand…thgough real life is diff from movies isnt it?:))

    PS:-Anrosh is a gal dude:))

  10. Neha permalink
    February 27, 2009 6:41 am

    this one was really funny.. waise yeh problem toh sabki hi hai… mexican n chinki public ka toh srsly samajh hi nahi aata hai kya bolte hain..

  11. Ordinary Guy permalink
    February 27, 2009 6:43 am

    Thanks Indyeah… 🙂

    I had exaggerated in the article, but yes, communication is a problem…. 🙂 and thanks for letting me know about anrosh… 🙂

    Did you watch the clip???? do not miss it………

    Anrosh, I am sorry… 😛

    and Neha, Thanks!

  12. Ordinary Guy permalink
    February 27, 2009 6:46 am

    and yes Indyeah, reel life is different from real life… 😛

  13. Indyeah permalink
    February 27, 2009 7:58 am

    will watch the clip at home:)..here I will be chucked out:D

  14. Ordinary Guy permalink
    February 27, 2009 8:01 am

    what do you mean by here?
    school????
    anyways, check it out when free… 😛
    you might not like it….:)

  15. Indyeah permalink
    February 27, 2009 8:36 am

    here means the ngo office I am sitting in,.:P the one that gives me my daily bread…:D

    its a state of the art kinda office…:D

    School has comps too for all of us teachers..in the staffroom:D

  16. Ordinary Guy permalink
    February 27, 2009 8:44 am

    amazing indyeah….
    working in two places….
    really…..

  17. Winnie the poohi permalink
    February 27, 2009 11:09 am

    Ahh dude I think the chinese ppl speaking in english are hardest to u\s !

    I havent been to usa.. but have handled calls (tech supp) So got used to it..

    I like ppl down south.. they speak so slowly with so much drawl that u can never mistake what they say 🙂

    But I am sure it is fun sometimes.. U end up making more friends when u actually dont u\s the accent.. coz the need to reach out is more 😀

  18. Sujatha permalink
    February 27, 2009 12:19 pm

    My first time here. So why Nov 14, 2009?

  19. Indyeah permalink
    February 27, 2009 1:06 pm

    OG my question too:)same as Sujatha’s why that particular date?:D

  20. Nam permalink
    February 27, 2009 3:57 pm

    Hey! That was funny. I lived in the US for almost five years and then realized that I needed to know Spanish. I now live in Spain and am fluent in the language (its not hard for us desis to pick up languages 🙂 When I recently visited the US I realized how much Spanish is actually spoken there. Many times someone won’t understand you in English but then you use Spanish and get the job done in half the time. Plus its a wonderful beautiful language!

    PS. Why don’t you want to remain vegetarian?

  21. J P Joshi permalink
    February 27, 2009 5:07 pm

    I enjoyed your post and the witty style of your writing; doesn’t matter that you exaggerated a bit, as per your confession.

    It happens to the best of us. English sure is a universal language spoken in so many different accents. It’s hard to understand many accents unless one strains. Why only others. Indians have this peculiar habit of nodding their heads from side to side and saying yeah, when they agree with a person and the Americans get baffled because the Americans find the body language and the words don’t match. All of us are unique in our own way. Loved the post.

  22. Ordinary Guy permalink
    February 27, 2009 6:16 pm

    hey Winnie,
    Yeah Chinese accents are also different…. 🙂
    and you are right when you say that the need to reach out makes people look beyond accents and race…

    Hey Sujatha and INdyeah,
    ON Nov 14th 2008, I took a vow to become a veggie… so that is why the date is Nov 14th 2009. The decision was taken to test self control among other things…. 🙂

    Hey Nam, yeah Spanish is a great language.. and I might just end up learning it… it should be fun..
    and I did not get your question?
    why do I not wanna remain a veg.

    Ans: probably coz I am not!!

    Thanks JPJ Sir,

    yes, we are all unique, and that is the beauty in the world….
    and LOL at head nodding….I have faced that scenario… 😛

  23. Reflections permalink
    February 27, 2009 6:23 pm

    Dont bother abt the rest…

    Just remember to drag & prnounce the Doellerrs as Daaallaurs.

    The rest will follow!!!!!

    😀

  24. vimmuuu permalink
    February 27, 2009 7:00 pm

    Appo aage motham jabaa jabbaaa (punjabi house style) aanu alle???

    But I tell you, those firangs dont understand a thing when we fake our accent! I speak with my normal accent (Im sure Indian) and I have never had a problem in making them understand. But then, god alone knows the truth !

  25. Ordinary Guy permalink
    February 27, 2009 11:03 pm

    LOL reflections… 🙂 yeah dalllaer…. 🙂

    and vimmuu,
    yes aliya, motham calip annu.. 😛
    and not all firangis understand our accent… 🙂 so your fake accent must be pretty good i guess then LOL

  26. Solilo permalink
    February 28, 2009 6:59 am

    Hey! beedi dialogue is from Lal Salaam not the one you mentioned.

  27. Ordinary Guy permalink
    February 28, 2009 7:35 am

    i know Solilo,
    but the clip i mentioned is the film in which that famous “I am the answer” dialog is…. 🙂 MPMK

    i mentioned the youtube link for your sake… 🙂
    LOL… I cannot forget lal salam….

  28. Charakan permalink
    February 28, 2009 7:16 pm

    Good post.I thought speaking English is enough to get u thru atleast in US and U.K.

  29. kanagu permalink
    March 2, 2009 3:54 am

    LOL.. 🙂 its really difficult to live in America.. I have to talk with Americans at times related to my job.. think about the poor me, who cant use sign language.. I will keep on repeating the thing till he says yes 🙂

  30. Chirag permalink
    March 2, 2009 4:43 am

    Dude well when I visit US, it mostly hand signals, I mean not that I can’t speak English, I can fake a accent or two, but Its rubbish to say something like 5 times, Irritates me so I speak in words, not sentences. My boss keeps laughing at this, but I say “Either the hand signals or Smoke signals”, I have lived in the southern part of India for so ling now, when I go to Delhi, my family doesn’t accept my ethnicity, they say my hindi is broken.

  31. Ordinary Guy permalink
    March 2, 2009 5:09 am

    hahaha 🙂 Kanagu,
    best of luck pal…

    and yes, Chirag, good one
    “hand signals or smoke signals”.. 😛
    a good retort…

  32. Ordinary Guy permalink
    March 2, 2009 7:23 am

    and yes charakan, i also thought the same thing before coming here

  33. Quirky Indian permalink
    March 2, 2009 1:29 pm

    Hilarious, OG! But I have the solution to all your problems: you need an accent tutor. For the “American accent for the Ordinary Indian”, may I suggest Salman Khan? He’s the best, and while no one will understand you in India, you’ll have no problem in Amrikka!

    Cheers,

    Quirky Indian

  34. Ordinary Guy permalink
    March 2, 2009 5:44 pm

    QI, that was amazing… hahahahaha
    salman khan, it is indeed… who is going to be my tutor… 🙂 but you know what, I would not mind Katrina being my tutor… 🙂 as she has that firangi accent… 🙂

  35. Happy Kitten permalink
    March 8, 2009 12:53 pm

    LOL! that was too good!

    nd have you noticed how those newly americanised folks have the word “yea” in all their conversations.. i guess this is what they have managed to utter with all their frustration!

    nd how difficult it becomes these days to watch some American movie and guess what they r saying.. I guess that is why they have all the action…. who cares abt the conversation!

    but then have u noticed how the Amerikans hate British english?

    anyway all the best with your americanisation.. but then I hope ur mother tongue will be left alone….

  36. Ordinary Guy permalink
    March 9, 2009 4:38 pm

    yea HK, yea!!! 🙂 Ialways use it..

    and yes, I will never forget my mother tongue… 🙂 Tamil, coz I am bad at it anyways..

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