I happened to attend an acting workshop a few months back. I was sitting with my friends, and as I often do to annoy them, I started speaking in a fake British accent. To my amazement, someone sitting in the row ahead of me turned around. She was amazed at the accent and asked if I was from a foreign land. No I was not. I am not. I was faking the accent, I told her. And, she told me that I fake it so well.
Pun intended, nothing can be a better compliment for someone who has come to an acting workshop!
This is just a tiny event of my life where I felt that English can make you ‘in’ at any place, be it known or unknown. I wonder why.
The colonisation has gone deeper than we had imagined. It has been ingrained within us.
Often, colonisation is related to rape. In both cases, the powerful tries to sabotage the lesser in power. The lesser in power feels the pain even after the powerful has long gone. The memory remains to haunt, to taunt.
Something similar perhaps has happened to us. too. The colonisation did not just end with the departure of the British. Our minds are still vying to fit to a system designed by them and the Western world.
But this rant is what we hear all the time about colonisation. A teacher of mine once pointed out that English is just a mode of communication that is recognised the world over. Bless her, for bringing a different perspective to the shore.
What puts this argument to shame is people’s attitude towards the language. Fluent English inspires many, even if the utterance has zero value. That’s the only upsetting part here where language ceases to be a mere mode of communication and becomes the unique selling point of a person in a job interview, let’s say.
This is what makes me sad. Shouldn’t your worth be determined by what you can ‘do’ instead of ‘how you say it’?
Who are we trying to impress is a good question. Who is defining our definitions is another brilliant one.
An Englishman speaking poor Urdu might be considered cute by many though things would go down the drain if someone like me ended up speaking poor English.
It is important to realise that what you say has something worthy in it. Worthy, of course, has relative definitions. Something worthy in my eyes might be totally upsetting in someone else’s.
But why don’t we make our own definitions and break away from the societal (I sometimes call it ‘suicidal’) ideas of proper. Why do we have to let language be a barrier instead of a vessel of transferring of ideas? Because, I think, that should have been the reason why it was once invented.