One Man, Two Voices

“Wait for it, wait for it,” I thought, as I waited for the man, a Caucasian, to stop talking and for my friend to start. The man eventually stopped, and my friend started.

I smiled to myself as my friend started to talk in a hodgepodge of an accent. I probably really should have been listening more carefully as to the content of the conversation — and less to the accents going around — but God help me, I couldn’t do it.

I find that many of us Asians automatically change our accents to suit the Caucasians. I have mentioned this before to many of my Asian friends, many of whom do begrudgingly admit it with a slight shrug of their shoulders.

They say that it’s only natural that we, as humans, learn to adapt to the environment, and adopt more familiar accents to make it easier for others to understand us.

But if we reason along those lines, then perhaps we should dye our hair blonde too, to make it easier for them to look at us. Are our accents really so strong that they find it that difficult to understand us? So much so that we have to change them to aid understanding?

When my friend spoke, he seemed to take on a certain air of eloquence. After the man had left, so too did my friend’s air of eloquence — seemingly dissipating into the midday heat right before my very eyes.

His accent back to normal, he seemed to me a whole different person from who he was just a few moments ago.

One man, two voices. One brain, two minds.

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