I just find this so funny.
So Where You From?
Why must a foreign accent always invite an inquisition?
- By Iva R. Skoch
- Smithsonian magazine, September 2010
“If you’re an immigrant with an accent, as I am, your days will be filled with conversations with nice people.”Read more: @ The Smithsonian
I’m going to be that immigrant with the funny accent. If our plans push through, I’ll be joining my very American soon-to-be husband in less than a year and he warned me in advance that my accent can both be a blessing and a curse as I might encounter people who are hostile to immigrants. I don’t speak or write perfect English (no, I’m not that bigheaded) but I think I speak and write English well enough (yes, I am that bigheaded). I told him that we all have accents – it’s just a matter of where you are at the moment. His Southern New Jersey accent certainly sounded foreign and strange to me the first time we talked. And he found Londoners’ accent even stranger than mine when we went on a holiday last March.
Even here in Saudi Arabia where I work, I get a lot of similar questions related to how I speak and how I look. While I believe I look as Filipina as any Filipina could be, my country’s varied ancestry can make it difficult for some to make sure at first glance.
“Are you Chinese/Japanese/Indonesian/Malaysian?”
“Why do you speak English so well?”
“Where did you grow up?”
My real nationality seems to surprise most people. I’m not offended and I don’t take it as rasicm when people seem to lump all Southeast Asians together. If they’ve never been there, we can’t expect them to know the difference, right? It’s also a little-known fact that Filipinos are taught to speak English from early childhood as it’s our schools’ medium of instruction. The accents may vary from region to region but most Filipinos have a good grasp of the language. It surprises my inquisitors even more when I say that I grew up here in Saudi Arabia. My English sounds nothing like the local accent but is more like a mix of Ateneo-English plus everything I picked up from all places I’ve been since my teenage years. And in spite of mostly staying here in SA for the past 18 years, I cannot speak decent Arabic – a fact that embarrasses me every time I’m forced to admit it.