Fading accents

One of my former coworkers asked me to rate her accent, could she pass for an American or did her English sound like my Korean, a child-like accent sometimes and an American accent other times? It is somewhat of an obsession…how much can you sound like a native speaker of any language that you’ve studied.

Here in Korea parents will accept overseas jobs, especially in English speaking countries so that their children can develop a “perfect” English accent. But around the time when the children would start learning hanja (Chinese characters used/borrowed  in the Korean language ) in the Korean public school system, the parents usually rip their children out of the only world that they know and move back to Korea. But unfortunately for the children, their English is usually on par with a English native speaking child of the same age, they are far behind in their counterparts in Korea. And to effectively learn Hanja, you need to have a strong foundation in hangul.

Obviously, the returned children have social issues trying to communicate and interact with their Korean classmates, who in a sense are intimidated by the returned children’s English level. Also, fads seem to change faster here in Korea than in any other place that I have lived, which makes it even harder for the returned children to (re)adjust to living in Korea.

But Korea isn’t the only country has an odd focus on accents. Many Australians, Brits, Irish, and Scots actors try to learn an American accent so that they have a better chance of finding work. Most in my opinion you can tell that they’re not American because their accent fades in and out, especially when emotions are running high.

A few actors you may not know are actually not American: Dominic West, Anthony LaPaglia, and Charlie Hunnam.

I watched Terminator: Salvation yesterday and I noticed that one of the actors, Sam Worthington, started the film with a slight Australian accent and by the end of the movie, he was back to his normal Australian accent. It did distract me a bit, and it made me wonder, why force him to try to learn an American accent? He speaks perfect English, yes, with an Australian accent, but everyone would be able to understand him just fine. And him speaking with an American accent would actually be more representative of the country as diverse at the United States. Or at least that’s my two cents.


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