Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Accent..So What?

Just watched a video from youtube; BenBrashaw channel (I think). I feel so proud knowing there is someone out there who are not a Malaysian, can speak Malay language fluently. In his youtube channel, he teaches Malaysian on how to speak English in American accent.

In his videos, he complains of mispronunciation of some English words made Malaysians. I respect him for correcting the common mistakes done by Malaysian people, but he shouldn't expect Malaysians can speak English as well as Americans. I think he should know some reasons;

1) In Malaysia, we were taught British English since we were in kindergarten. Not American English!

2) In Malaysia, most of the English movies on tv are from US. Quite absurd doesn't it? We learn British English in school but listen to American English conversations from movies.  That's why Malaysian sometimes mix the language up.

3) In daily life, most of the Malaysians do not care much about grammar. Even sometimes in our own Malay language, we can build a complete understandable sentence without using correct grammar. That's why you always hear Malaysians do a lot of grammar mistakes in their conversation.

4) At home, there's no one we can talk in English to. If we start trying to talk to our parents in English, our parents will get startled and say...."Kau dah buang tebiat ke apa cakap omputih kat rumah ni?" And if we try to talk to our friends in English, they will say that we are showing off. That's why English only was learned "theoretically in school", but not practically used. And sometimes you can see Malaysians that are good in writing English essay, but very bad when they try to speak it.

5) We are Malaysians, not Americans. That's why we can't speak English like American. As simple as that.

6) There are many homophones and homonyms in English. Okay let us focus on homophones. May be they sound a little bit different but Malaysian perceived them as all the same. Sometimes we confuse with

"weather and whether",
"desert and dessert",
 "can and can't" [american accent] (this is the most common and fatal mistake we do)
"week and weak"
"think and thing"
"their and they're" (also common)
"your and you're (quite common)
"three and tree"

Even if I am listening to someone using one of the word from these pairs, I could hardly know which one they are trying to say. [Especially can't and can in American -In British accent, it is easier to differentiate these words]

That's why when I am doing my presentation in class in front of the professors, or talking to somebody who sits next to me in the flight, or talking to foreigner (I mean...tourists) in my country who's asking for direction, I just use and speak English without bothering which accent I am using. I am using my own accent. Haha..

For me; "No matter which accent you are using, as long as it is still "English" and not "bahasa rojak", that will be okay. No need to impress other people by showing (off) how good your accent is.

p/s : Everybody will say their own language is the easiest language. Put yourselves in others' shoes please. But I respect and salute Ben Bradshaw for teaching us his slang. I learned something too (on how to recognize those homophones). 

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