If you know me in person, and in Malaysia, you will know that I have the thickest Malaysian-Chinese accent. You could hear that I was an Ah Moi from miles and miles away.
It is a product of who I am, in all actuality. I enrolled into a Chinese vernacular primary school, despite this, English is my first language. Due to the fact that I am Malaysian, I also speak Malay. Thus, being trilingual and being raised in a traditional Chinese family, has nullified me the ability to have a “sophisticated” accent in any form or shape.
Not that this is a bad thing. I remembered that just before I came to Australia to study, I have had friends who told me that I should be careful of my accent. Of course, this was the nice way to say: stop sounding like a Cina Moi because them Aussies do not like people who sounded different. Of course, this person means well, but it certainly made me think.
(I also had a beautiful friend from Singapore who had this post RP accent and I was like WOOOOW when I first met her)
What is so bad about my accent?
Back when I was still mainly beauty-blogging my friends would ask me to start a Youtube channel. My answer was always, “Aiya, this kind of Cina accent, where can laaaaa!” (I wouldn’t be able to manage with my boorish Malaysian Chinese accent). I always felt that I couldn’t do it because I didn’t “sound” the part.
However, things are starting to get a bit different.
I’ve been staying here in Melbourne for half a year, it’s not a long time, but I realized that it is like a bowl of mixed nuts. Everyone here is different and there is no “true” desirable accent, and sometimes, the results can be quite amusing.
The utterly most jarring example that I had was walking in the university’s sundry shop and looking at this incredibly handsome Indian boy who looked as if he jumped out from a Bollywood movie, Hrithik Roshan-level handsome. In my mind, he was already doing a Bollywood dance number, but lo and behold, when he opened his mouth, he seriously sounded as though he popped out from the center of Ayer’s Rock. His accent was that Australian.
Conversely, Da Boy hasn’t got too thick of an Australian accent, despite being Australian and having been born in Australia. He has a slight American twang, for whatever reason, but you could tell that he was Australian because of how he has certain words.
I also have scores of classmates and hostel-mates from all over the world, and they seemed to be perfectly comfortable with how they spoke. A good friend of mine told me once that I sounded more “formal” and “posh” whenever I was behind a microphone. So I wondered why was I ever so insecure over how I sounded in the first place.
Thus, I have started to not worry about how I sound when talking to others, but have placed emphasis on what I say. Of course, when talking to my friends from home, my Cina Moi accent will surface, but I think that as long as anyone I talk to understands me, I shouldn’t have to worry about my accent, no?
FUN FACT: I speak Hokkien in the mode of Alor Setar, but I joined a podcast aptly named Penang Hokkien Podcast and the strangest thing happened – I actually developed a Penang Hokkien accent, it just happened! Catch me on the Podcast here!