Where Are You From? I hear an accent! – By Lear Matthews + 4 videos

Where Are You From? I hear an accent! –  By Lear Matthews

The question, “where are you from? You have an accent” is one that is quite familiar to immigrants.  The stimulus for such a query is usually based on one’s speech pattern, accent or other linguistic attributes that appear to be different or “foreign.”  A good friend told me that his initial inclination is to respond by saying “Earth! Where are you from?” when asked this question.  But he quickly declared that because he was raised to be polite, he exercises self restraint, empathy and diplomacy.

He further stated that his response may be followed by pointing out to the questioner that she/he too has an “accent”.  

Everyone inherently has an accent peculiar to his or her indigenous socialization, unless (a) there is a deliberate attempt to alter or otherwise disguise it, which some immigrants may do to “fit in” or (b) social or environment influences naturally affect one’s speech pattern over time.

My buddy reasonably assumes that what the questioner usually means is that he has a “Non-American” accent and thus feels the urge to verify an important dimension of his demographic attributions. He also remotely ponders the possibility that his response may be used by the inquiring individual to gauge or determine the nature of the moment’s interpersonal interaction that follow.

A related theme is immigrants’ definition of “home”, which may be influenced by the immigration experience and level of assimilation into their adopted country. Owing to the transnational nature of Diaspora existence, defining “home” and its impact on identity and allegiance becomes an interesting sociological issue.  As one social commentator stated: “Home is not where my grandparents are buried, but where my grandchildren will be raised”.

This addresses some of the assumptions made about the characterization of members of the Diaspora. Should members of the Guyanese Diaspora claim multiple “homes”?  Is home the place where one was born or where one is raised?  What about the undocumented? Is home one’s adopted place of residence after migration or where one claims citizenship?  If so, to whom (or which country) does such a person owe allegiance? Should the Diaspora be allowed to vote in hometown elections?  Should it have representation in Parliament?  Is home Guyana, the Caribbean, the West Indies, USA, Toronto, South America, Africa, India, Portugal?

Furthermore, identifying oneself by using a bi-cultural label may reflect ethnic pride rather than the desire for enduring relations with an “ancestral land” such as Africa or India. However, beyond such an argument, identification as Caribbean-American, West Indian-American or Guyanese-American may be less symbolic than significantly representing the essence of a transnational existence. Although in no way disruptive to life in their adopted home, the above represent subtle issues that some in the Diaspora grapple with daily, but which they may or may not discuss openly.

Caribbean English (from visitor to Guyana)

TAG | MY GUYANESE ACCENT

21 ACCENTS – By Amy Walker – Video

Fun Tour of American Accents | Amy Walker – Video

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Comments

  • de castro  On 08/06/2015 at 2:41 am

    Most interesting observations…..am no diplomat so when asked where is my naturally inherited Guyanese twang hails from..am usually “blunt” Guyana…..the next question is GHANA ? ……then its explanation of where GUYANA is situated Geographically.😇

    Prejudices abound in social behaviour.

    Social animal
    Kamtan PS nice one GOL

  • De castro  On 08/06/2015 at 7:05 am

    In first video there was an interesting observation.
    Shortening of sentences or statements.

    Speeding up conversations as a way of “fast tracking” V “bla bla -ing”
    with shortening of words in speech.

    Eg wah de matta wid yuh.= what is the matter with you.

    6 syllables 7 syllables
    Am no linguist but was privileged to have had twins growing up in home.
    When they were 3 they had to have “speech therapy”
    They were developing a language of their own….both speech and actions.
    They could understand each other but others would not understand them.

    Takes me back to “caveman” times…..when the only language was “sounds”
    and “actions”……..TARZAN days….😀😀

    Today we have TV telephone or tablet.wow wow ! Progress ? Most would
    disagree !😇

    We certainly have come a far way…….now hopefully we use the technology to benefit all mankind.

    My wish my dream come true.

    Kamtan

  • Peter  On 08/06/2015 at 9:56 am

    This is unbelievable to hear this guy who is barely dry behind the ears categorize Guyanese the way he does.What he is talking about is the way some Guyanese speak just like some Southerners or some Texans. It’s people like these who mislead the world on the beliefs customs and culture of others. It’s especially dangerous when articles like this are reprinted or published without commentary. This way of. Speaking is what is known as localized slang.

    Sent from my ASUS

    • De castro  On 08/06/2015 at 12:38 pm

      Hey peter
      Please don’t take the “moral high ground”….accents are part and parcel of culture….north south divide…eg Scots Irish and northerners in UK have different dialects…..Welch language of their own.
      Articles print or published without commentary is not an issue here.
      Where is the danger ? Please explain. Its just another opinion.
      Please try to be “open minded” on cultural differences.
      Lesson
      Let’s take the good from each others culture leaving the bad and ugly behind.

      Thanks

  • albert  On 08/06/2015 at 11:03 am

    After nearly 50 years in the US I still have a deep Guyanese accent. Never tried to fix mother nature. The interesting part was that early on my grand children could not understand me and would ask their mother what I said. In time they understood me.
    if you go to the US Virgin Island you find many with deep West Indian accent but they are “born Americans”.
    You dont even have to have an accent. If you look foreign you must be foreign Dont know how many saw the piece a few months back in Congress when a female federal administrator of East Indian descent was giving evidence at a hearing on a US issue. The Congressman started out telling her how he visted her country and enjoy the difference in her culture etc. It turn out the woman was born and educated in the US and may have never visted India.

  • De castro  On 08/06/2015 at 12:42 pm

    Lesson
    Don’t judge less you be judged…….in today’s world “class war” !
    Inferior V Superiority complexities. Prejudices.

    Shall I go on….

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 08/06/2015 at 1:36 pm

    Here in Los Angeles, where accents are as diverse as the population, I’m frequently asked where I’m from. I don’t take offense even if it’s intended. Live and let live.

  • LM  On 08/06/2015 at 3:38 pm

    Are Peter’s criticism directed toward the article, the first video or both?

    • de castro  On 08/07/2015 at 4:48 am

      Neither….
      His comment on dangers of “info” unedited/commentary.
      Think we “literates” can draw our own conclusions……
      with option to comment if we agree/disagree with points raised and opinions expressed.
      Isn’t that what “press freedom” is all about.
      Unless we live in “north Korea” or some other dictatorship.

      GOL do not edit or “comments await moderation” ….

      We learn more from “differences” than “likes” !😇😈

  • Lear Matthews  On 08/06/2015 at 5:19 pm

    Correction: Are Peter’s criticisms toward the article, the first video or both?

  • Gigi  On 08/07/2015 at 2:27 pm

    I get asked where I’m from all the time so it no longer bothers me. What bothers me is when, without fail, Hispanics speak to me in Spanish and I have to tell them I don’t speak Spanish. I am then given that look that says “‘you’re pretentious American wanna-be.” Then I have to go into my limited broken Spanish to convince them that I really don’t know/speak Spanish. For this reason I have put a lot of effort in learning Spanish but because I don’t get to use it, it’s hard to retain.

    My husband’s family are from South Carolina. His mother has that beautiful southern musical drawl. He doesn’t. My kids have a little of it by choice. They were born in Georgia and take pride in their ‘GRITS’ (Girls Raised In The South) roots.

    de castro, I was agreeing with you until you mentioned “North Korea and some other dictatorship.” That is the western propaganda press feeding a false narrative on those they have deemed “axises of evil” because these countries won’t allow questionable NGOs – NED, USAID, HRW, etc – to enter and “spread democracy” aka institute regime change that is friendly to western hegemony.

  • de castro  On 08/07/2015 at 3:09 pm

    Gigi
    Certain amount of truth in what u r suggesting…..but a young ruler surrounded by so many military brass ? 😈

  • Gigi  On 08/07/2015 at 6:54 pm

    de castro, the young ruler was trained from birth so he is essentially very experienced. The fact that he is still surviving speaks to this. And in this case, being surrounded by so many military brass is necessary to his country’s survival given that he is up against NATO on steroids. The Americans said of Pinochet, “he’s a son of a b***ch but at least he’s our son of a b***ch.” This same mindset is still alive and well when one looks at the current batch of dictators that America supports across the globe.

  • LKM  On 08/07/2015 at 8:27 pm

    As intriguing as the last few comments are, they seem to be moving away from the theme of the article.

  • De castro  On 08/08/2015 at 12:52 am

    Lkm …thanks for pointing it out.
    Agree…we sometimes drift from subject…guilty as charged.
    Sorry !
    Kamtan

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