What is it with Pakistanis and their fake English accents?
Our day began at a coffee shop with a waiter and waitress bending over backwards to impress everyone with their English. Right from the customary “what would you like to eat, Sir?” to the parting “thank you” – every single word hurt our ears. Not that we had any problems deciphering the accent, having mastered it long ago, still it felt that we were being addressed by aliens from another planet.
But why just coffee shops? We’ve heard shop-helps, pizza boys, phone executives, students, professionals and even those who are comfortable with the language spewing accents.
Our first exposure to assorted accents was on Dawn TV over four years ago. It wasn’t exactly easy to follow the spurious combinations that hit our hearing apparatus. We soon realised we weren’t the only ones who had difficulty deciphering accents. We would often hear guests and correspondents ask (read complain to) the anchor: “Can you please repeat the question?” And repeat the anchor did, sometimes not just once, but twice and even thrice.
The sudden jump from the Brit-American to very Punjabised/Pushtuised accents of correspondents and guests was equally hilarious. On the one hand, the correspondent in Swat struggled with his English and explained how he had heard “the voice of the helicopters”, and on the other, the anchor did “pohh, pohh, pohh” with a flourish to put the day’s news in perspective.
My husband and I were witness to a funny fake accent scene today. Two girls were in a fight with a boy. Neither could speak English but their accents even in anger were so in place and the ***** words were delivered with panache.
Why are you faaallowing us? Girl yelled in firangi English.
I am naaaat, Boy shot back matching accent.
Go **** yourself, Girl.
Go **** yourself, Boy.
Go **** yourself, Girl.
Go **** your face you *****, Boy.
Go **** your sister, Girl.
On this note, the two girls and the boy headed in opposite directions.
I have no clue who such people try and ape – Americans? British? But I do know that it is some sort of an inferiority complex that makes such people twist and turn their tongues.
Obviously, not everyone we have met has an accent. Some are too grounded to be bothered with accents. And some have real accents, which we are fine with.
Still it is a pleasure to meet people who even after living abroad for several years do not unleash accents. One such person who comes to mind is author-translator Musharraf Ali Farooqi. His non-accented English was music to our ears even though we had feared otherwise before heading for his book launch last month.