just for the record, an old topic revisited

I remember doing a piece on fake accents and our insecurity with our Singaporean identity once, and as luck would have it, i chanced upon this old newspaper, talking about this same issue (and opened to the appropriate page), so...

Here it is, for the record. My apologies if i do not have anything else to add on ST-wise, but... i dont read the newsmaker in Singapore.

from the Straits Times, Friday August 13, 2004, "Life!" Section:

Friday Mailbag: Readers write in about the phoney accents of DJs, Singapore Idol, Bard bashing and Carl Skadian's column on school exams

No rojak accent for me

IF I want to listen to the Queen's English on radio, I would tune in to the BBC World Service instead of listening to our local DJs putting on a fake ang moh accent to sound posh or hip in the case of American English ("What phoney accent?", Aug 8).
  In fact, the phoney accents that many DJs in the English radio stations try to use seem to indicate both larger pretensions to be Westernized as well as insecurity with their Singaporean background.
  If radio personalities like Suzanne Walker think that Singlish is lame and that critics of her brand of English are those with a "small-town mentality", she is most welcome to leave for Britain or Canada to speak her version of "proper" English.
  I used to tune in to our English stations frequently. But, increasingly I am more attracted to the Chinese radio channels because the presenters do not pretend to speak and act like foreigners.
  And, I can improve my Mandarin listening to these stations instead of cringing at rojak American and British English that some "high-class" Singaporeans use on air.


Showing off with an accent

I REFER to "What phoney accent?" by Jill Alphonso (Lifestyle, Aug 8). The issue was the affectation, relating to phonemics, concerning some radio DJs.
  Power 98FM DJ Chew Soo Wei says: "As a DJ, I'm taught to enunciate my words and to speak clearly."
  To enunciate correctly is not the same as affectation. Ms Chew has made the mistake of synonymy.
  The examples given in the article of "dance" pronounced "dayh-nce" [J!L: "d'-air-nce" would be perhaps a better approximation] and "can't" pronounced "cayh-n't" [J!L: again, "k'-air-n't"] are not enunciations with British pronunciation [J!L: for my international readers, we are supposed to be using British English over here in Singapore] but affectations of American speech.
  Does this signify, according to the reasoning of Ms Chew, the British are enunciating wrongly? Or, is it the Americans?
  Ms Suzanne Walker of WKRZ 91.3FM holds the belief that Singlish is lame. Of course it is, being fractured English, and then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong had to intervene in the usage of it in the TV sitcom Phua Chu Kang.
  What was astounding was her logic that people who take issue with accent show a small-town mentality that points to insecurities of how they themselves sound.
  She adds: "Just because I don't sound like you doesn't mean that I'm showing off. It just means that I speak differently."
  Let me remind Ms Walker that imitation can be easily spotted because of lapses in the flow of delivery.
  If an American DJ was doing her job, her American accent would be flawless, and if she decided to interject a bit of Singapore accent (flavour) into the flow for local interest, that would be immediately spotted.
  In antithesis, a local DJ interjecting American affectation would also be easily spotted and commented upon. This does not indicate a small-town mentality but a trenchant observation.
  By what categorical, disjunctive or hypothetical syllogism did she arrive at this puzzling conclusion of insecurity of "how they themselves sound"?
  There is no nexus. No one contended that to speak differently is wrong. The dialectic polemic is not on the word "different"; it is on the word "affectation".
  The respondents in the article spotted the flaws in the affectation and this put them off. I am certain that the linguistic delivery of a native British or American would not have had the same effect.
  When anyone indulges in affectation, the aim is to place himself on what is believed to be a higher level, never a lower level.
  The American and British twang is seen as above the Singapore accent, which is far removed from Singlish.
  Accent, to reiterate, has nothing to do with grammar or enunciation. It is a showing off, a psychosomatic situation where the fallacious mental fiction (of being better) creates the physical disorder of affectation.
  May I remind the DJs concerned that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew speaks fluent English. His delivery is devoid of affectation, incorrect enunciation or grammatical errors.
  Maybe the words of La Rochefoucauld are appropriate here: We are never so ridiculous from the habits we have as from those we affect to have. [or ie., psychosomatic "habits" are far more ridiculous than natural habits]


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