Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Oh! The Accent

A 2,almost 3 year old is still very much malleable and can change easily.Just 3 months ago, we brought this Telugu accented English speaking little girl to Auckland. She would speak everything ending with ‘aa’ . Like for e.g. ‘You want a bookaa?’ In Telugu , a question always ends with ‘aa’. So we tend to talk that way.

Even though the child is a mixed breed, Marathi accent couldn't really be seen in her. She even speaks Marathi in Telugu accent. Wait. She used to.

Now she is picking up the Kiwi accent faster than I can adjust to. Just yesterday, I lost patience and told her not to call me ‘Mum’ ,’amma’ will be just fine I exclaimed.

What I missed here, is that she is adapting to the environment I put her in. She didn't ask for it. She is just doing what she knows best from birth. Surviving in an unknown environment by blending in and seeping in whatever knowledge she gets from these new surroundings.

The New Zealanders have redefined the English in way that is uniquely theirs. Though Auckland is very cosmopolitan and has a vast variety of people that finding a real Kiwi is almost difficult sometimes.
I am sure my child might learn an accent which is an imitation of trying to get the imitation of the real accent here. I think that is what the world is heading to anyways. A global neutral accent is tough to get.
New Zealand, like India, also gets it English as received gift from the Colonial British age. Though I believe, it is really progress far bit away from the English English tones.
They are non-rhotic unlike most of Indians. So they would mostly not pronounce a ‘R’ if it weren't before a vowel.

I am happy to still have the ‘zeds’ and not ‘zees’. That makes a huge difference in my teaching the child the letters. I am also happy we are not in ‘pounds’ and ‘ounces’ and am happy with ‘kgs’ and ‘grams’.

Also, we have a new language to learn in the form of Maori. As if the toddler has had not had enough languages to learn, we add Maori. Learning Maori is something that even most native NewZealanders are doing. So now on most days, you will find us singing ‘Mahunga Pakahiwi,puku,hope,waiwai’ with more fluency than the usual ‘Heads and Shoulder, knees and toes’. Kia Ora! :D

So slowly but steadily , our Brinjals are turning into ‘Eggplants’, ‘Capsicum’ into ‘Pepper’ and Bhindis to ‘Okra’.We have ‘kumaras’ instead of ‘Sweet potatoes’ and ‘Mandarins’ instead of just Oranges. Our teachers are now referred as that lady or by name. Every stranger on the road doesn't get referred to as ‘Uncle’ or ‘Aunty’ ( This is the change brought forward by mum) . There would be a lot more ‘Thank yous’ and ‘ Sorrys’ in our usage now.

So my little girl is now trying to become an Aucklander and excelling at it. I won't ever become an Aucklander and that is fine for me, I think. I think I have been in India for more time in my life then I will ever be in a foreign country. So , I feel me changing or wanting to change is ridiculous. It will sound ridiculous too if I try :P

But my daughter will be more time here than she lived in India. ( At-least that's how it is on papers. Future may have its own course). I should not stop her to change. This is a whole new complexity in my parenting her, that I should accept and learn to work with.


  1. I can see, you are getting more flexible!

    Sometimes I wonder how much children teach us, while discovering the world themselves!

  2. True words I like your way of writing.
    Gate Opener


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