Kucing Gatal Speaks

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Speaking with a fake accent

I had a meeting with a unique customer today. As she entered the office, the smell of perfume was nearly overpowering. She swished her long blond-dyed hair over her shoulders as she came up to me, and shook my hand firmly while introducing herself. I took a quick glance at her apparel - tight white shirt with the top two buttons unbuttoned, offering a clear view of her ample cleavage, and a tight black skirt. She walked confidently on a pair of impossibly-high heels. The overall impression I got was that of a poised, confident, slightly slutty businesswoman, the kind that most men salivate after. As I ushered her into the meeting room, I noticed a few male colleagues' heads popping above their cubicle partitions to catch a glimpse of the "cun customer".

As the meeting progressed, I discovered something else about this "cun customer". She talked like she was from another country. America, to be precise.

Me: Have you confirmed the details for the project?
She: Yes, I asked my boss and his answer was that we need to make several changes, blah blah blah.
(Asked pronounced assed; answer pronounced enser)

Me: We've ordered the component RZ from the supplier.
She: That's great! How many RZs will we need in total?
(Z pronounced Zee)

By this time my curiosity was piqued. As Malaysians, we love making small talk so I decided to kill two birds with one stone - chit chat with her to build relationship, and dig out info about her background.

Me: Are you returning straight to Penang or going to travel some more this week?
She: Oh, I'll be in KL until tomorrow, then back to Penang.
Me: I see. You have plans already for today?
She: Yeah, I'm meeting up with some friends, we're going dancing tonight.
(Dancing pronounced densing)
Me: That sounds fun. So do you travel a lot?
She: Yeah, that's the great part about my job! I've been all over Malaysia.
Me: Oh, how about overseas?
She: You know, so far I've never been abroad, only travelled within Malaysia. But next year I plan to go to Thailand!
Me: Oh, so you've never been to other countries like the US?
(seeking confirmation lah!)
She: Nope, never.

So basically, I was dealing with some sort of mat salleh celup who had never set foot outside the country but who spoke like an American. I don't get it, how can you speak in a foreign accent if you've lived in Malaysia all your life? I also have watched MTV and countless American movies, but I don't speak with a twang.

It's a trend I notice with some young Malaysians. Dressing up in Western clothes is one thing, but speaking like a foreigner? Come on lah, who are you trying to impress? It sounds stupid, and you look stupid. Why is it that Malaysians who live overseas can maintain their Malaysian style of talking, when you, who have never stepped foot beyond our borders, pick up an accent from nowhere?

I notice Malaysian children who were born or have lived overseas for a long time tend to speak in whatever way their fellow countrymen do. I don't think there's anything wrong with this because they would have spent years surrounded by foreigners, and naturally adapted to their new surroundings. But why is it that the mat salleh kids who come here, and study here and all that, still speak like mat sallehs? Very few actually talk like Malaysians. Is it because the Malaysian way of speaking is harder to pick up than the mat salleh way?

Or do some of us feel ashamed of our heritage and drop the Malaysian way of talking as soon as we leave the country, and in cases like the "cun customer", even while we are still in the country?

I just don't get it.

Till next time, this is Kucing Gatal signing out with a 100% Malaysian Meow.


  • hmmm...weird. Why would she speak like an American if she has never been there before?

    I've been to the UK and there are quite a number of Malaysians who tried to speak with English accents, but sadly...they are only making fools out of themselves.

    I'll just stick with my Malaysian accent for the time being (even when speaking with foreigners) until I'm good enough to speak with English accent..lol..

    By Anonymous pandaboy, at July 21, 2005 9:47 PM  

  • oh come on. let her be. it is so malaysian to immedietly notice fellow countrymen/women who speaks with an accent. It's like we are embarassed that the person is different then judge them as unqualified to adopt the style. this is childish, non? unless she starts to denounce budu and cencalok as unfit for consumption, then that's a different story.

    By Anonymous rhomer, at July 22, 2005 12:52 AM  

  • rhomer was right. Actually I wouldn't mind, but if someone tries to speak to me with the foreign accents but failed miserably, then I would mind.. Or if they wanted to show off...

    By Anonymous pandaboy, at July 22, 2005 12:55 AM  

  • i think u 3 are all right. i've been to a few countried myself but thank goodness i dont come back with an australian/dutch/french/english accent. GAWD!!! the NO one can understand me!!! hahahahaha.....

    By Blogger mistyeiz, at July 22, 2005 9:47 AM  

  • Rhomer: Of course we can immediately notice when our countrymen speak with an accent, it's pretty obvious. Why is it different from her denouncing budu and cencalok? She's obviously denounced the Malaysian way of talking, I think that's just as bad ;)

    Pandaboy: Doesn't matter to me if they have mastered the accent or not. Like I said, you don't see Mat Sallehs dropping their style of speaking the minute they step into our country ;)

    By Blogger Kucing Gatal, at July 22, 2005 9:52 AM  

  • what I meant by 'notice' was how our mind gets triggered by the accent and it goes in curious mode. We start to wonder why one of our own speaks in such a way.

    it's a pretty futile effort to denounce the malaysian way by speaking with an accent. denouncing budu and cencalok has economic impact, that has to be stopped.

    may be she was adopted by malaysian-american ;-).

    By Anonymous rhomerc, at July 22, 2005 10:45 AM  

  • i go with Rhomer in this - sometimes its too typical-a-malaysian to notice items ( in this case accent) which does not follow their own. most cliche reason would have t0 be - pengaruh tv...!!!! on the bright side, should the person masters it well, it reflects the effort taken to be good at it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at July 22, 2005 10:49 AM  

  • The stereotypical Malaysian goes to the airport and comes back with a foreign accent.

    Very true that. :P

    By Blogger tigerjoe, at July 22, 2005 11:48 AM  

  • *salivate*

    By Blogger Pantani's 2nd Cousin, at July 22, 2005 12:56 PM  

  • i know this girl who studied in Australia for a mere 2 years..and came back with some powder-furr accent that consists of American, British and OZ.. apahal lu minah?? hehehehe...
    eh, i know someone who has an american accent but has never set foot in America.. hope it's not the same girl..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at July 22, 2005 5:28 PM  

  • hm.

    too much tv, perhaps?

    as long as they can get their point across, then hey... you can speak with whatever accent you want, imho.

    By Blogger zyrin, at July 22, 2005 5:38 PM  

  • Better than talking like an ah beng/ah lian. Not on purpose. Or with a fake accent that you couldn't understand and you might thought he/she is speaking French.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at July 23, 2005 2:34 AM  

  • couldn't agree more with Anonymous there. the worst is actually an ah beng / ah lian tried to speak flun (fluent) English but messed it up badly that it took several seconds to actually process the words so that it make sense...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at July 23, 2005 10:32 AM  

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