Accents!

On my ride home on the train tonight, I couldn't stop thinking about the way I speak. Sometimes I wonder if people believe that the way I speak reflect my intelligence. I'm not talking about the words I use or don't use, but the accent I say them with. Oh FYI...yes I have an "accent"...Although I can't say I always knew this.

I remember freshman year in college we had a communications class, and we were going around saying what we thought about people just by the way they look, speak, etc. I only remember two things that were said about me: one, that I was a "red sportscar" type of person (at the time i thought it was cool but now i think it has to do with the whole "latins are on fire" or "hispanics are hot tamales" or whatever). The second thing was that I was from the Bronx because of my "accent". Part of me was like "wow they got this one quick!" and the other part of me was like "I have an accent?"

*For those of you that are my friends but never ran into this type of situation in college or elsewhere... I guess I have to be the first to tell you... YES you to have an accent. It might be a NY accent, a Dominican accent, maybe a specific Borough accent...but yes, you have one*

My whole life I grew up thinking my mom and my aunt's had an accent...you know like when they say "I seenk so" and "I'm bery mad". But I never really thought I kept mine from back in the day when I couldn't pronounce the word "dog" lol. Then here I am, I get to college and I feel like the loser that goes on American Idol and says "What do you mean I cant sing??? Everyone I know says I'm great!" but for some odd reason they can't seem to hear the notes they are singing.

So now at work, I obviously don't speak like my gringa counterparts and sometimes I wonder if in the corporate world (although I can't say my job is corporate) my "accent" will affect how far I get. Let me explain for those that don't know me...I don't have the Selma Hayek/Penelope Cruz accent that will get me into Hollywood for my "hotness". This is more like a toned down version of Jenny from the block. lol So at times I feel like maybe people think I come from some ghetto neighborhood and if they cross me I might bring my gang to fight them. However, I can't say that assumption bothers me as much as the assumption that I might not be as qualified to do the job as well if not better than someone else. I haven't felt this in full effect at work, but at times I listen to those around me and I can't help but wonder what they might be thinking. I feel like maybe I should teach a class on culture. Yeah so I put a little more "umph" in my speech...sue me for having some life in me and being passionate about what I'm saying!

So onto my point...my whole life I've looked at "having an accent" as a bad thing. I know people that have worked their whole lives to get rid of theirs. I remember some time in junior high, people having mentors that taught them how to say "tea for two" in the "proper tone". My question to them now is "why do you think your "tea for two" sounds better than ours?" Point is, we have to learn to be proud of our culture and how it is reflected through our speech because in reality, these accents just say a little more about our culture. I can't say I would want to trade mine for anything because I feel like this is part of my story. There is a legit reason behind everything about us. (*tangent* It's the same as why we include so much rice in our meals...anyone know the real reason?...it's simple rice is cheaper than most foods in the Dominican Republic so it's the best thing to eat and fill you up. Same thing goes for yucca and plantains... equal to potatoes for the Irish, etc, etc.) So basically, my "accent" tells my story. Was English my first language? No. Where am I from? The Bronx! Am I an educated Latina, Yes!! Is there something wrong with any of that? No Biatch!!

So as we would say... Don't get it twisted!!!

Damn this makes me want to go get a PhD or something!! :-P

2 comments:

Good stuff SHEILA! (pronounced more like CHEYLA!) When I read the line about the red sportscar I thought becuase you are pretty hyper and full of emotion, L.

But you're right, we should not be ashamed of the way we speak or how we pronouce our words. It is a reflection of who we are. I don't think it will hold you or any of us back because our accents are not that bad. The ones who I think should worry are the ones who speak with an African and Indian/Middle Eastern accent. I've worked with people who have those accents and people give them a hard time as if they are speaking in another language. Sometimes it is hard to understand them pero ni pa tanto!

Anyways, I would not worry too much about accents, in the end your hard work and dedication will be what separates you from everyone else...if not call your crew and we'll do some intimidation :-)

January 30, 2008 at 1:08 PM  

noooo flashbacks from that HEAF class. "bodega, bodega, bodega...topekam topeka, topeka...

yea it wasn't until i got to college that i realized i had a New Yorker/Dominican/height-ish accent. One of my cousins went to college with me and I remember one of the girls saying that we talked exaaactly the same.

ditto to what jay said about african accents. I've seen people at work react the same way. It's like...can you try a little harder to understand!?!

February 1, 2008 at 10:59 AM  

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