Monday, October 13, 2008

Indian American English

In India, interest in speaking English with an American accent is growing:

The phenomenon has spread from the Indian offshore operations boom in the late 1990s to a wider cross-section of society, whether to help them get on in business, communicate with family State-side or just show off.

In Mumbai, arguably India's most cosmopolitan city, a number of language schools have sprung up offering accent coaching. Mumbaikars are also trawling the Internet looking for tutors to teach them to talk like Uncle Sam.

"About 50 percent of our students want American accents," Raj Oberoi, who runs the Just Talk Institute in the south of the city, told AFP.

Most of his students come from India's middle class, whose numbers have swelled on the back of the country's economic boom, and range in age from seven to 65, he added.

"People want to learn an American accent because they want to study abroad, perhaps they're going on a business trip or they think they'll be able to impress people if they talk with an American accent," he said.

The phenomenon marks a shift in attitude towards English, which was brought to India by its former British rulers and remains an official language, spoken by 90 million people.

Indians look to America for a new accent on English (Agence France-Presse)

comments: 3

Slywy said...

What's an "American" accent? New York sounds different from Chicago, which sounds different from Atlanta . . . I hope I don't pick up the Chicago one!

Michael Leddy said...

Good question — my son Ben just heard an Australian student do an "American" accent — flat vowels, I think.

Crritic! said...

Fascinating, Michael. This could prove problematic for Indians trying to discuss the cricket.

I remember when I was younger watching news reports from Israel, where everyone in the street who was approached for comment spoke with an American accent. I was surprised how many Americans there were in Israel!

I only realised later that U.S. English is simply the default dialect for second-language speakers, as it is in so many parts of the world.