Friday, April 24, 2009

On Spoken Words

I have noticed something about us, Nigerians; and I find it in spoken words.

During conversation with foreigners (someone speaking a different accent of English, most either of the Americans or the British), pronunciation of words change.
The average uncouth Nigerian begins to speak in what he or she assumes is the accent of the other person in the conversation.
Immediately a fellow Nigerian appear, the normal Naija accent for spoken English returns.

But I noticed that the accent of the person the Nigerian is speaking to, is maintained no matter where he/she is (that is at least until he acclimatizes to the environment; by then, the subconscious takes over and he speaks in the accent of the locals).

This has left me pondering:
1. Maybe we think they our versions of English are different languages; “this foreigner doesn’t understand what I said; I must translate to his language”.
2. Or could it be that we believe that our language is Pidgin English? Therefore, we must speak formally (which is the foreign way English is spoken) when a stranger is around.
3. It could be due to the mouthy way we speak English. Subtly we think this is an inferior way of communicating.
Could (3) be the right answer? Could that be why?
· Is this what make some of (obviously less sophisticated) elders sound funny in their effort to incorporate “being there slangs” in their spoken English?
· Maybe that is why the average Nigeria adjust quickly to foreign lands with ease and face a tough challenge re-adjusting back to “hot” Nigeria “after so many years” (2 years; and this dude traveled when he was over 25)”.
· Or why the media retains foreign accent speaking (or "fonee" speaking) presenters?
· Maybe that’s why this “never being there” presenter is trying to ruining my afternoon… (using words like:
> “twenny”(for twenty)
> “innit” (for isn’t it)
> “nigga” (black man)
> “big up” (Sign of respect)
…in the most awful ways?

Before you ruin my day,
just listen.
You can’t forge an accent.
Takes more than just twisting your mouth or saying "cool" words.
It describes where you are coming from,
signaling a history you have experienced
Any effort to belittle it will only be an open mockery of everything you stand for
…and noise to my ear (as you successfully done)

You accent shows generations of individuals interacting with their environment in a particular way.
It reflects how the previous owners of a land viewed the earth,
their socio-economic/ legal struggle,
what they understood by all they sensed,
And how this understanding forced them to silently the pronunciation of certain alphabets (and amplify other) the way they did
Such different use of vocal chords created different accent.
In line with the saying of the holy book that “the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge”

Hey Mister,
Please do you were employed to do;
Develop qualitative & engaging contents.
Use every opportunity to speak justice, the truth and what you truly stand for.
Because, that’s what earns respect.

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