Friday, 2 October 2009

Urban Accent

El 18/08/09 en el diario de circulación gratuita The London Paper, apareció una columna escrita por un lector, Sert Fetti, que trata cómo hablan los adolescentes en general.

Les copio aquí el texto.

Recently I met up with my 14-year old-cousin who, since starting secondary school, has somehow managed to morph himself into Ali G. His accent is now largely indecipherable to his family, much to their annoyance. During our time together words like “nang”, “sick”, “marvin”, “yard”, “blud” and “innit” kept rolling off his tongue.

This got me thinking about accents, language and my cousin’s new-found love of speaking – what I like to call “urbanese”. Does the way youngsters in London speak really say anything about them?

Programmes like The Catherine Tate Show and Little Britain poke fun at kids who’ve adopted this urbanese accent, depicting them as anti-social and unintelligent.

Personally, I’m not “bovvered” with the way some of our kids speak today. I admit, it can sound peculiar but I also think it shows creativity. According to many, a “proper” accent is the one that carries the most social prestige, and that’s how we should all be speaking. This is the pronunciation taught in schools and used by newsreaders, but why should it be classed as superior?

Everyone has an ­accent. Surely it’s what you say, not how you say it. I’m sure most of us are guilty of doctoring our accents depending on the company we’re in. Perhaps by ­speaking urbanese youngsters are just trying to conform to what is now the majority accent in their peer group.

Does a person’s accent really indicate how intelligent they are or their ability to do a job properly? Let’s ­suppose you have a vacancy in your company. Candidate A is experienced, qualified, bright and, on paper, ­perfectly able to do the job, but speaks urbanese. ­Candidate B is less experienced, skilled and qualified, but speaks “properly”. Who would you employ? I’m guessing that, although most of us wouldn’t admit to it, we’d probably discriminate against Candidate A.

It seems that people stereotype and make judgements based on accents. So should we be encouraging ­youngsters to smarten up their speech or should we ­forget snobbery about accents because urbanese is just a natural evolution of a London accent?

Only time will tell how future generations of Londoners will speak. We’ll just have to wait and see... innit!

Sert, 25, from east London, runs a website

La nota se puede encontrar aquí.

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