You should not lose your accent!
Have you been given this advice when you left your home country? I recently came across this video, titled,: “Don’t lose your accent!” . I watched him and was in tears from laughing.
Have you ever been told not to lose your accent? I know I have. Especially when I left my home country,Singapore. My friends said, “Now don’t you come back home with an Australian accent!”
When immersed in a certain environment, your mirror neurons work hard at trying to ‘mirror’ what you see, hear and feel. This happens naturally as humans are wired to fit and copy the person in front of us. For some of us, it is easier to copy, and hence we can pick up the accent of the country we are in.
Interestingly, I think this advice of “Don’t lose your accent” and your internal dialogue of “ I need to be understood by these people , so that I do not stand out” , are two opposing thoughts. Hence, we might actually live in inner conflict for most of the time when trying to assimilate to a different country. This is worth considering, especially if you struggle being understood, despite working on your accent. Part of it might be your inner subconscious kicking in saying, “But I can’t talk to my family members/friends, sounding like this etc” Or part of it may be your inner voice saying that you are “losing your culture”.
What is an accent ? In the video, Trevor describes it as someone else speaking your language with their rules. How brilliantly described! I think I could not have done a better explanation. He also made a good point that having an accent is NOT a measure of intelligence.
I think that is a very valid point as well. Have you ever automatically judged that someone has a lesser intelligence, because they sound different? How often have you even thought that these people are fluent in one language, which is the same as you being fluent in English?
I have been working in the area of accent reduction for a while, and this video made me think. I think accent reduction is a personal choice. It is one that has to be initiated by the person themselves. I worked on my accent, mainly because I wanted to be understood in the professional arena. I still have my Singaporean accent, and use it as and when I need to. I think in that way, I can safely say, you never truly lose your accent. It’s a choice, and choices are good. Choices give you options, and you can choose to use option A or option B, as it suits.
What are your thoughts? Do you think you can completely forget your accent, if you have been living in another country for a long time?