Of accents and intelligence

Posted by Nat

A few days ago, a bookstore explained to Carla that they would not carry the book. Among the reasons listed, they mentioned that Jin, the Korean fox, had an accent.

I asked myself: why didn’t they complain about Bernard the French Gargoyle? He has the strongest accent of all the characters?.

Or is the perception of accents actually quite relative.

A few weeks ago, someone at my office told me it was a pity I had the wrong accent. If I had had a British accent, I would have been perceived as smart. If I had a French one, as glamorous. Buy apparently my thick Spanish accent was not working in my favor.

I (sort of) understand this kind of behavior in people with no education, who live in small towns and whose ear is not trained to capture different emphasis and pronunciations, or may be prone to more prejudices.

But what’s the excuse for this absurd behavior in New York, where approximately 36% of the population is foreign born?

And why do we never see accents as a badge of intelligence? Having an accent—no matter which—means that person speaks at least one more language, which means a very decent degree of intelligence.

In Larry & Friends many of the characters speak with an accent: Korean, French, Spanish, you name it.

Their accents are part of who they are. They are proud of it, because it integrates their roots (their original speaking inflection) with their new life (the English language) to create their present.

It’s the proof that people can incorporate the best of one culture and yet be able to guard the best of his own culture to create—when fed with respect and love—something that is an evolution of both, something that can make our world a more tolerant, diverse and exciting place to live.