The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

How Americans Relate to Accent and Weak English: The Immigrant Experience

Alena Dyakova

Blog author @dyakova_alena


I recently received an SMS from my mother with a selection of “funny” entries a la “Dzhamshut’s wife talked to her girlfriends.” And I understand that I'm not funny, and not at all.

Photo: Shutterstock

For the first time I caught myself on this when we just ended up in the USA and went to learn the language. In the class were Arabs, Brazilians, Portuguese, Korean and Russian speakers. All I heard is great teacher speech and accent variations. Then it dawned on me for the first time: for the teacher, we were the same jamshuts in all their diversity.

And my Teacher sounded to him like the famous "nasalnik". Only nobody laughed at me. Moreover, no one deliberately corrected me or looked askance at school, or in a shop, or in a restaurant - nowhere !!!

I’m used to the fact that Russian can even correct Russian if the word is stressed incorrectly or the sentence is illiterate. I myself can correct my husband or children. What can we say about how much they make fun of the accents of visitors from the countries of the former Soviet Union.

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But in the US, no one will correct you, no one will make fun of you. On the contrary, they will listen carefully and patiently while you distort words and construct phrases illiterately. People in this regard are so educated that they will even tell you: “What a wonderful accent you have!”, although they will not understand anything from what you said at all. They may refer to the noise around or other external reasons to ask you to repeat, and they will apologize to you for this!

But, according to an old habit, you will certainly be corrected by Russian-speaking acquaintances who, even without your request, will fight for the purity of pronunciation. This was not the case with me, but they told me more than once.

And I used to be very annoyed when some Caucasians spoke in the company in their native language. And I admit, sometimes I grumbled: “Well, they live in Russia, they must speak Russian!” And now I understand that I myself speak my native language everywhere with my family. Now Spanish, Portuguese or any other speech does not bother me. On the contrary, I am understanding.

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Moreover, the teachers at the school unanimously insist that at home my children and I speak our native language, try to keep it for the children, and they have enough English during their studies, in communication with friends - everywhere.

In general, I wish you all tolerance. Alyona, a guest worker from Russia, who has been in the shoes of “London from the Capital of Great Britain”.

The original column is published in Alyona Dyakova's blog on Instagram.

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