The Asian accent and Dalai Lama at White House


Image by Getty Images via Daylife

From stand-up comedians to kids who start going to a multicultural school, the English accent of Asians has been an object of amusement for centuries. While talking to “whites” I become very conscious of my accent, as English is only (we Indian’s love regular sprinklings of “only” ) my second language.

A bitter-funny experiences with my English-as-second-language background include losing  an international scholarship since  I couldn’t produce a TOEFL  certificate proving basic English skills. It happened despite  a world renowned Englishman’s recommendation that I am qualified enough to entertain a Western readership.

A  recent  Reuters Blog by one of its White House correspondents prove that Asians not only have trouble with rightly pronouncing English words but also seriously mess up with the syntax of the Queen’s tongue.

This hair-raising syntax revolution creates trouble for journalists when the speaker is a spiritual and political celebrity like the  Dalai Lama.

After his controversial meeting with President Obama,  confused reporters waiting f asked if His Holiness was discouraged about China’s resistance to his cause.

“Important is truth,” the grinning Dalai Lama told reporters.

More syntax confusion followed.

“This is not question of justice how soon achieved. Something worthwhile, make attempt. Then, whether materialize this goal within one’s own lifetime or not, it doesn’t matter.”: Andrew Quinn of Reuters wrote in his blog.

For someone who has never been out of South Asia,  visiting Westerners are always kind.  On listening to the Asian way of Englishing, they either nod in agreement or say “You are right, I got it.”

But things change when you are in London or Washington. Whether you are Dalai Lama or Aby Tharakan (that’s me) there are guys to catch you.

Therefore, in Bhutan, where I work and has enough possible white critics, I keep my mouth shout.

I don’t speak unless the chillip (white) friend spurts out a self-deprecatory remark on his/her deficiency in the English language.

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