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“How come you don’t have an accent in Hindi?”

Just as my English has a “chameleon” quality (see “Can you drop the Indian accent?”), I’m often asked “How come you don’t have an accent in Hindi?”

I've got Hindi, what about you? (Photo: www.tattoodonkey.com)

I’ve got Hindi, what about you? (Photo: http://www.tattoodonkey.com)

Usually I explain that I have lived in India for more than a decade, studied Hindi in Delhi for a year augmented mid-way by a very helpful 6-week stint at the Landour Language School (near Mussourie).

What follows is generally “Aaah! That explains it!” type response. Because the ‘real’ Hindi is naturally from North India!

Yet I’m aware that my vocabulary has shifted between what is typically heard in Delhi to ‘Mumbaya’ words. And has deteriorated abysmally as my universe in Bombay is almost exclusively English.

When I lived in Delhi (1995-96, 2003-05) there were multiple daily opportunities to speak Hindi or at least ‘Hinglish‘ – in which one switches effortlessly between English, Hindi, blending words from each language. Today, I’m honest enough to know that when folks complement my Hindi, they are being terribly kind – even I can hear how badly I mess up!

However I have a few perspectives on this… and wonder if anyone else agrees? (more…)

“Can you drop the Indian accent?” – Accents and voice overs

Recently, I did a voice over in Jakarta for an ad pitch. They were looking for a middle-aged woman with a North American accent who could speak with warmth, like a mother to her growing child. Now…

Where the deed was done!

Where the deed was done!

  • I’m indeed a ‘native’ English speaker
  • I’m certainly from North America  (yes the Canadian prairies count!)
  • I’m quite happily in my 40s so the right ‘age’ (more or less)

However… I don’t exactly have what you would call a typical ‘Canadian’ accent any more. Truth be told after a decade plus in India, it has more than just a tinge of an Indian lilt.

So given just how Indianized my accent has become, it was no surprise that my friend who arranged the voice recording begged me “Can you please drop your Indian accent?”

Apparently I succeeded in reclaiming my ‘home and native land’ accent. We were able to ‘nail’ the recording in only 5 takes – including options for the client to consider.

Now I’m not a professional at doing voice recordings, so it was an amusing experience however it did prompt me to think about how our accents adapt to our environment. (more…)

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