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Perceptions: Foreign Accents Essay

The world today is made up of different people or races. This means that the world is made of numerous cultures that practice different activities. The world is a mix of languages, cultures, people, and ideas just to mention a few. The only similarity is that we are all human beings; we all feel pain, love, appreciate good things. Unfortunately these different cultures and languages emphasis our difference; it is common to meet people who think that their language and culture is superior; making another inferior and therefore wrong/bad.

This difference is often emphasized when it comes to dominance within the international arena; being westernized is considered superior, being in countries like the U. S. A means that one will be subjected to such prejudices because they are different. Having an accent will mean that you come from an inferior culture; one will therefore end up on the receiving end of the community despite all the efforts that he/she will have performed.

The question therefore to ask is whether having an accent or coming from a different culture can hurt your ambitions in life; prevent one from getting a desired job despite having all the qualification among other things (Selim 2001). This paper will therefore establish the difference in our society and also elaborate ways of ensuring that one overcomes such unnecessary short comings. Being different within a new society means that one will be subjected to various issues that don’t necessarily mean that they are inferior but will make them fell inferior.

Having a foreign accent is one of these issues; despite all efforts a different accent will always stand out. Depending on the perceptions of the local people one can either suffer untold discrimination or receive unnecessary attention to an extent that it will hurt your privacy. The other is where one receives just enough attention so as to feel welcomed and appreciated. The first two are more common reactions from a new community. It is known that foreigners are at times subjected to a lot of scrutiny either the authority or the local individuals; school going children and teenagers are also affected.

The social scene in our schools is brutal with each student or group trying so hard to out do the other. The competition is unintended but still it causes a lot of harm to foreign students or students with an accent. They end up being subject to all forms of descriptions and situations just because they stand out. The situation is at times so bad that it pushes one into doing things that they wouldn’t normally do; they get into fights in an effort to stop the abuses or discriminations.

Among teenagers the consequences could be worse; grades may drop due to the psychological and physical effects, others may contemplate suicide or any form of release from the current situation. Teenagers are also known to be mean and destructive at times. Being different is therefore very hard for some people. Among adults the effects may be a bit different mainly because adults are considered more considerate than teenagers. Though the types and effects of discrimination may vary but it will still be discrimination nonetheless. AN adult from another country or culture is definitely engrained in their own ways.

He or she has already established a way of doing things and therefore relating with others. This difference could make one stand out in different ways. Depending on where you come from; people may throw all kinds of stereotypes to you, for example one may ask, if you are from the third world countries, if you come from a poor background or if you survived the last announced famine. As trivial as these comments are they may hurt and discourage; making one loose faith with the locals. Another example is when one is called for an interview.

Once the panel discovers that the interviewee is a non native the interview might shift its objective and one may have to divulge information of where he/she comes from and what kind of experience he/she had while working there if you were working at all. At times the panel may view you as incapable of working with them citing communication barriers; at the time they have already asked you a series of questions which have answered correctly. Therefore an accent does hurt at times; but it is not your fault. The cultural difference has taught some people to trust one of their own.

This means that any body with an accent is wrong for the job despite all the diversity they may bring to the institution. Having an accent doesn’t mean that one is less capable. Foreigners have been known to be quite industrious; they have the hunger to work hard and earn an honest living. In some industries accent or not equal opportunities are presented to both. This means that both learn to tolerate each other; they accept each other with their differences. An accent is not a short coming it only means that you come from a different place with different cultures. It is therefore wrong to discriminate because of an accent.

Unfortunately some professions require one to be well versed in the local language. This puts a non native individual at a disadvantage. An accent can make speech difficult and will therefore require one to speak slowly and clearly and perhaps used gestures to communicate effectively; anyone who travels to a foreign country will be faced with the same situation. This difference is therefore limiting only in some situations but it shouldn’t be used to claim authority for example over workers who have an accent if one is placed in situation where he has to communicate for his accented colleagues.

Such a situation should rather be met with a lot of respect and humility as many have identified you as the individual who can effectively mediate between two people; without your assistance there will be a breakdown of communication, such a situation would prove unfavorable for both parties. To a non native speaker/individual having to face various obstacles because is different is quite unfortunate. This will therefore reduce his abilities to minimal all because he/she can’t communicate at the same level; the accent hinders their ability to effectively communicate.

It shows that one can be indirectly punished for being different. On a larger case it shows how a community can be ignorant towards other cultures and people. Having an accent shows that you speak a different language; it means that you are proud of your culture and consequently your language. An accent simply shows that one is proud of being who is, it shows that one loves his culture enough to actually move and share it with other peoples with the expectation that it will be accepted not as a problem but as a difference and diversity; an opportunity to learn and share ideas.

Unfortunately the reaction towards something different in some society is completely below expectations (Selim 2001). For the so called non native speaker having to endure a lot of negative attitude, and sometimes positive attitudes, is another process through which they have to over come, if they emerge from the situation having gained your respect because of what they are capable of doing all the better. This resilience is therefore a big boost to non natives; though an unnecessary process.

On the other side, positive attitudes towards non native speakers are also common; some people are happy and optimistic to have individuals from other regions of this world with them. They embrace the opportunity to gain from the difference and learn other aspects of life; a different perspective from a different part of the world. To them that one opportunity is as good as any. It is therefore correct to say that within a society different elements exist. Discrimination is therefore a part of any society; be it of color or speech.

Almost all societies have been known to be divided along some lines, some more prominent than others and other even less justified therefore done just because one is different (Selim 2001). In conclusion, being different has never been a crime. Unfortunately the society through its own means has managed to pit people against each because of basic difference like color or speech. In some cases, this has proved to be drastic. For some it means being discriminated because one cannot speak the native language wit ease; as the locals do.

This has in more than one way shown that having a speech difference can be a disadvantage in some societies. Fortunately there is hope as the perception over time will change and hopefully the same societies will be more accommodating than they are today. Reference: Selim Ben Said. (2001). Attitudes towards Accented Speech: A Comparative Study of Native and Non-native Speakers of American English. Higher Institute of Modern Languages of Tunis. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (August 2006).


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