Sorry it has taken me almost a week after the exams ended to publish my first post in a loooong time. My post-exam fatigue lasted a lot longer than I expected, see, and I spent the past six days trying to reclaim all the sleep & energy I lost.
Now, among the many things that fascinate me, accents are high up on the list. In this increasingly multicultural world, we hear people speaking in all sorts of tunes & slangs. I was told recently by my CPE teacher that we are required to speak in an accent that is "close to the native British accent" during the speaking exam. I sat there wondering if there is such a thing as a British accent. You see, there're a LOT of accents in Britian alone. There's the London accent, Cockney, Scouse, Geordie, Scottish, Cardiff, Nothern Irish, Midlands etc. and they all sound very distinct. I think its safe to assume that we all have been exposed to various funny accents, you know, like Indians & Sri Lankans speaking in English (though when they speak it tends to sound like they're speaking in their own tongues all over again).
When I was 8 years old, I travelled to UK and stayed there for almost an year. My family & I lived at a city called Coventry, located at the heart of the country. I was constantly spoken to by the Midlands accent at school, and believe me, the first few weeks were a nightmare! I knew how to speak English as well as any foreign 8 year old (not trying to be modest in any way mind!), but the language wasn't the problem. In fact, on the first day of school, my classmates and I were set upon the task of writing a short story, something that I loved to do. I happened to impress the teacher so much that she sent me over to the Headmistress, who drew my plaudits as well. Still, I was having trouble communicating with my classmates, who would all babble away in the Midlands accent, which often would result in me staring at them blankly. Then they would go, "You don't understand much of our laaaynguage do ya?" Eventually I managed to convince them that I did speak English reasonably well, and over the weeks I made a lot of good friends. This didn't prevent some Indian lady to come to my class every once a week to give me language lessons privately though. I think the authorities were still skeptical about me...
So, almost a year later, I arrived here back in Male' to find out that we Maldivians spoke English in a funny accent too (though this is something many Maldivians deny). I had a tinge of the Midlands accent in me, and I remember during one Parents-Teachers meeting back in grade 4 when my teacher commented on it; "Varah loabi koh English in vaahaka dhakkaane."
One little example of the difference in accents is the way people say the word "Pod". Americans call it "Pard". Most Britons call it "Po'". Maldivians call it "Pod" with the 'd' pronounced very clearly. Has anyone heard Africans saying bank? It's like "BANG!!" When the Chinese speak English its like listening to the sound of someone chopping vegetables (Not my words, but Russel Peters'). But anyway, the point is that accents are a way of distinguishing your identity. Be proud of it.