Journal

Accents…Pip Pip Cheerio!

15/04/2016
CORNER TAB

I was scrolling through my news feed on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and a TV presenter job ad in Nigeria came up on it with a ‘major‘ criteria for applying…

‘Must not speak with a foreign accent’

Chuckled and continued scrolling…. ‘Accents’ seem to be a very big issue with Nigerian Youths. A lot of people who speak with ‘foreign accents’ are mocked and resented for it. There also seems to be a criteria for why it is ok or ‘understandable’ for some people to speak with foreign accents and not so ok for some others.

When you meet someone who speaks english in a clean ‘unconfused’ foreign accent- usually British or American you look for a box to put them in. The ‘Schooled’ Abroad box or The ‘Grew Up’ Abroad Box. Once this person does not fit into any of these two boxes they are usually mocked or resented for it….This is Foolery in my opinion.

How do you expect a people whose official language is not any of  their numerous native languages and has not been so for many many years speak English? Does it really come as a terrible surprise that Nigerians try to speak this language with an accent just like the British colonialist who forced the language on them? or Americans?

We are educated in English. Television, Radio, all our Street Signs are in English. A lot of the TV content is American…Kids spend time watching Tele and soon start to speak like their favourite characters. I imagine the first indigenous TV/Radio presenters post colonialism spoke clean queens english and this became the standard for Television/Radio Presenting.

So I ask again why is it sort of ‘repulsive’ for a Nigerian to speak English (a foreign language which is now the national language) with its original accent? I am currently learning Norwegian…To speak the language properly you would expect I get a hang of the accent too right? I mean do you expect someone to learn to speak say… Japanese with an igbo accent? Why can’t this be the same for English?

As far as I am concerned going abroad to get an education as a grown up young adult for about 4-6 years is not responsible for this. –This is not a good enough justification for speaking with a foreign accent.– If it were the case then the foreign students I have met from Ukraine, India, China and the likes would speak in heavy British or American accents…But they do not, this might be because they speak their native language in their countries?

People who are so quick to label anyone who speaks with a foreign accent as fake should stop the bullying! If you want to speak your English with a heavy native accent you are freeeee! Last I checked our official language was not English with a ‘Yoruba/Igbo/Hausa Accent… English is not a Nigerian language and we really have no say on how it should be spoken. An english man having a problem with the way a Nigerian speaks english seems right doesn’t it???

Everyone should be free to speak in whatever way they want. English, our official non-native language belongs to the British, and to speak it with a foreign accent or whatever accent anyone wishes is the English Mans Problem! If you want to change the way Nigerians speak with a foreign accent support the teaching in and of our native languages, support television programmes broadcasted in our own languages, encourage our youth to speak our native languages more than english, support vernacular! Be the change you want to see. I hope this was the motivation for the people behind the job advert…. If not….

The way I see it, the reason why a French Italian Spanish German person will speak english with heavy native accents is because English is not their national and official daily language. If you choose to speak English with a foreign accent please do it well…and also speak your native language excellently.

What is the fuss??? Nothing better than hearing someone speak the queens english fluently with the accent this minute and switching to their native language fluently the next minute…Being Multi-Lingual and speaking each language excellently is very attractive…. Very!

Ok…. I think I have gotten it out of my system now….. Bye..  :-p

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1 Comment

  • Reply Oluwatoyin 02/09/2017 at 11:23 pm

    Wow! I was discussing with some people on this issue recently. I didn’t know that I am not the only one that is thinking about it. Thanks for this! I will compose and post on Facebook so that everyone will read and pass it on.

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