The Ac­cent Should be on Di­ver­sity

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Don­ald Trump needs to bone up on the minu­tiae of In­dian ac­cents as he ap­pears to have fallen prey to pop­u­lar stereo­typ­ing per­pet­u­ated by Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion, from The Simp­sons to The Big Bang The­ory. Any res­i­dent In­dian would vouch that these bear but a pass­ing re­sem­blance to gen­uine desi ca­dences. Even the tem­plate call cen­tre ac­cent re­cently mim­icked by the vol­u­ble Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hope­ful had more of an Amer­i­can twang than an au­then­tic In­dian tadka, and does dis­ser­vice to the sheer di­ver­sity of ac­cents that the south Asian sub­con­ti­nent can right­fully lay claim to. In­di­ans should be the first to take um­brage at this high-level at­tempt to ho­mogenise In­dian-ac­cented English as even a cur­sory ex­am­i­na­tion of the ut­ter­ances of just In­dian lead­ers would re­veal an as­ton­ish­ing range of in­to­na­tions span­ning not only do­mes­tic vari­a­tions but global ones too.

To be fair, the so-called Amer­i­can ac­cent also gets short shrift in In­dia, prob­a­bly due to clichéd por­tray­als in cinema and tele­vi­sion. There is no at­tempt to dis­tin­guish be­tween the dis­tinc­tive in­flec­tions of the east and west coasts of the US, not to men­tion the Mid­west and even par­tic­u­lar cities like New York. Of course, the fact both the Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic front run­ners nom­i­nally hail from the same state — New York — but have dif­fer­ent ac­cents can be con­fus­ing.

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