I have noticed how much people can discriminate against someone because of a way of speaking.
Sometimes it can be because of a lack of contact with other cultures and different people. But one thing is certain, everyone will notice if you are not from the United States by the way you speak, and they will make sure to tell you that.
My experience with different accents started in 2013, when I left Brazil to live in Costa Rica. At first, I did not really know it if I had an accent or not. But when I started to speak more Spanish than Portuguese, people around me started to comment about the way that I speak. The same thing happened when my contact with the English language increased. I come from the northern part of Brazil, where the most visible mix of Portuguese and the Tupi-Guarani language can be found.
I love my accent, and I am proud to be Brazilian. I have pride when talking about my native roots. But I found myself a bit surprised that someone can notice that I am not American in less than five minutes.
Sometimes navigating between languages can be very tricky. Your brain is just trying to figure out how to keep the languages in the correct situation. Many situations can result in a mispronunciation of words.
One interesting fact is that every time that you meet someone, they always comment about how the way you speak is different. I know it sounds silly, but in those situations I cannot avoid feeling very self conscious about the way that I speak. It feels that they have to mention your accent and how you do not speak 100-percent English. But mispronunciation is part of the process of learning.
Many people would say that it is beautiful to have a foreign accent. But honestly, for a long time, I was ashamed of my accent. I would try pretty hard to hide the fact that I am Latina, just because I did not like to have to handle all those questions and comments that people make.
But let’s be honest, it is pretty hard when you come from a different place with a different language. I have traveled a lot and had many different cultural experiences. No matter where I go, or which language I speak, it is going to be hard to hide a thick Latino accent. I never had the intention to impress anybody. But trying to speak similarly to an American accent was just an attempt to feel more like you belong to a place.
When I look back, I feel sad. My accent is the little bit that I have with me from my home. In the process of living away from my country, I noticed how much the presentation of my culture in me as a person has been disappearing lately, from the way I dress to my way of speaking.
An accent is the representation of who you are. Sometimes it is better to be different, and my way of speaking does not define what I am capable of.
Categories: spring 2019