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Indian Accent. American Accent. Who’dy Who’dy What?

Indian Accent. American Accent. Who’dy Who’dy What?

Tonight I had planned to embark on an amazing night of FABULOUS grocery shopping at SPAR here in Bangalore but my cat Jolie decided to fall ill instead so my trip was cancelled.  I realize that it may sound a bit dorky to be quite so excited about going shopping at SPAR.  But I happen to live in Bangalore’s smallest town so needless to say my local Spenser’s (in the next town over) has just one brand of toilet paper, one brand of paneer, no brown sugar, etc etc.  So trust me, SPAR is a pretty exciting excursion, haha.

And so begin tonight’s journey and the chain reaction of events surrounding accents and A LOT OF CONFUSION.  Jolie is ill, so no SPAR.  No SPAR so no food.  No food…haha, well, there is basically no food in my flat.  And since it is raining outside I don’t feel like walking to the Au Bon Pain around the corner.  So my choices are limited to either eating tomorrow’s lunch that Lakshmi cooked for me now as tonight’s dinner, or eat cereal, or order in.  And since I am going to the gym lately and don’t feel like ordering from Pizza Hut (where I am already very conveniently registered), it is once again time to play the “what the hell are you saying” game on the telephone with a new restaurant.  I really hate this game even more than I hate forgetting to turn the geyser switch on and having to take a cold shower in the morning, haha  But okay.  Here we go!

You know, when I came to India I imagined that it might be a bit of a challenge to understand certain Indian accents.  And it is, trust me.  I don’t know how many times I have said “sorry” or “pardon” since my arrival in order to ask someone to repeat what they have said.  But I was 100% unprepared for how difficult it would be for my accent to be understood by people here.  It never even occurred to me to be honest.  I don’t mean that to sound arrogant.  What I mean is that as American standards go, generally speaking, I don’t really have an accent.  At least not like some people do in the south (like my family in Georgia) or on the east coast (like a tough New York cop from a Hollywood film) or even in the mid-west (think Wisconsin and the movie Fargo!).  And after living in Europe for the good part of the past 18 years and with having so many mates from the UK, my accent is actually pretty neutral (I think).  I even enunciate my words like a good girl and I try to never go “valley girl” when I am talking…except to joke around of course.   But I have come to learn that my accent actually really does SUCK here!  haha  I mean, it sucks BAD!

I decided to ring Empire on Mosque Road in Frazer Town for some (hot as bloody hell spicy) chicken and a sweet lassi (a yoghurt drink) delivered to the flat.  But of course there were funny complications.  First, they needed my name.  This is not as easy a task as you might think.  Telling them just my first name took about 60 seconds and 3 spellings to perfect it.  You know, I really need to learn how to say my Indian A-B-Cs like a native because this spelling thing is really going to kick my ass and it is actually something that I could learn quickly.  ((Note to self, learn A-B-Cs with an Indian accent))

My wah-wah-wah American accent is not music to any of the poor guys who have to pick up my call when I order dinner. Bless them!!

Next, we needed to register my address so they could actually deliver my chicken.  Now this wasn’t simply a problem of my accent or his accent.  The address dilemma was special.  For starters, I still haven’t learned the format for addresses here or how to give out my address in the proper order.  So when the poor guy was asking for my apartment number, I was accidentally giving him my street number.  Then of course the accent sinks back into the equation and I misunderstand him.  So I start to spell the WRONG information to him, haha.

In the end the Empire guy understood probably 1/3 of what I said.  I probably understood about 1/3 of what he said.  What a nightmare for the poor guy at the other end of the telephone.  And for me.  Yet at the same time I have to admit that it was all actually really, really freaking funny too.  When we were done, I had a laugh with the guy on the phone to shake off the insanity a bit.  Well, at least I think we were having a laugh TOGETHER?  To be honest, who knows though!  Maybe he was really laughing AT me 🙂  Hmmmmm…

And in case you were curious, Jolie seems to be fine now, which I am happy about. Maybe I can finally hit SPAR tomorrow 🙂

XOXO from Bangalore

© Angela Carson, Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore blog and photos, 2011

Angela Carson
Angela Carson

At 21 I left uni, jumped into my Jeep Wrangler, and drove from my native California to live an adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I’ve explored 37 countries on 4 continents, residing in 8 of them (currently Indonesia’s Riau Islands is my home). I even have a private pilot’s license and was shot at once by bandits!

Find me on: Web



  1. Dennis Kean
    25/05/2011 / 00:06

    We can relate to the phone conversation thing. When we were in Spain, with our limited language skills, Joe and I would look at each other in fright when the phone would ring. It would be “You answer it”
    “No, you answer it”
    Who knows what the hell they were saying at the other end….and we were agreeing to?
    Keep the stories coming!

    • 25/05/2011 / 09:32

      hahaha… omg I can just picture you two doing the hot potato shuffle with the phone 🙂 It’s really crazy, I need to learn how to say my address with an accent because no one even understands my street name and it is really short! haha Big kiss to you and Joe, hope to speak soon, been ages! xoxo

  2. 25/05/2011 / 13:22

    Thank God we dont speak to each other over phone……… you could have thought that i am an Idiot….. Lol

  3. 25/05/2011 / 19:49

    I can only imagine how much trouble you might be having.. You’re right about how hilarious it can be as well.. 😀
    If it’s any consolation, Indians from different states have different accents, so sometimes even we don’t understand each others accent. Or maybe this revelation will make you pull out your hair even more.. I mean, if we don’t even understand each other, how in the world will we understand you? :
    It’s great that you can laugh about it all.. 🙂 🙂

  4. 06/06/2011 / 14:59

    Reminds me of this video I had watched long time back…. might help you in some outlandish way, maybe!

    “Google Demo Slam: Extra Spicy” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxDRburxwz8

    Fell on this page after reading your article in the newspaper.

    Good going.

    • 09/06/2011 / 20:13

      Thanks, Murali. I had no that article was being published….thank goodness I have a mate who reads DNA every day!! 🙂

  5. sunil
    04/09/2011 / 13:42


    • 04/09/2011 / 21:27

      hahhaah…that is hysterical…gonna give it a try, thanks for the tip 🙂 –ange

  6. 17/12/2011 / 10:52

    Phonics of Indian English is totally different from native lects like American/British/Australian English. The syllable of Indian English is like Consonant + Vowel or Consonant + Vowel + Nasal.

    In Indian English, CUT, COT vowels = the letter A in Indian English, for instance.

    If you understand these two (phonics and syllable structure), you get what they say.

    Angela = UN-JE (BET vowel)-LUH

    • 17/12/2011 / 13:25

      You rock, thanks! My first “english” lesson in India over the internet 🙂

  7. 17/12/2011 / 14:44

    No probs, Angela. I will write a small article on the phonics and the syllable structure of Indian English around the second week of Jan. The Indians who wrote about ‘Indian English’ like Pingali Sailaja, author of “Indian English”, got no clue about the syllabification of American English, for instance. So, when you read what Indians write about Indian English, you get confused. The phonics of Indian English fits with how Indians have nativized English (in technical terms, it is called “Loan word phonology”).

    Indian English sounds flat to American ears: it is not because they don’t vary pitch, but because they don’t use the same kinetic tones in nuclear and pre-nuclear pitch accents (This terminology belongs to both British schools of Intonation, autosegmental metrical phonology or Intonational grammar of Robert Ladd, Carlos Gussenhoven). Accent reduction courses, which many Indians enroll in, and books on Indian English don’t touch the intonation at this level!

    Even if you replace ‘w’ with ‘v’, fricatives th with dental stops th, it doesn’t help to understand/speak Indian English. Even though wikipedia articles and accent reduction books focus on these mispronounced segments (phones), fixing these sounds does not help–unless one get to the core of Indian syllabification, which is uniform across all Indian languages.

  8. Mia
    22/02/2012 / 12:10

    Hey Angela,

    I happened in on your blog on a search for vets in Bangalore. This is a totally unrelated subject but I’ve recently adopted a cat and need to get her spayed. You mentioned CUPA – would you mind letting me know how your experience at CUPA was. I’m nervous about the whole thing and am hoping to find a vet who can make it easier for me and my princess 🙂

    Your blog is very interesting …and very familiar! I’m from India, but my boyfriend is an Australian who’s moved to India and we’ve settled here – for now! While he is amazed at how almost all restaurants and shops home-deliver here, he HATES having to spell out names, and worse – numbers! his FIVE is always mistaken for a FOUR.

    I’m off to enjoy the rest of your blog – Do email me and let me know about the vet. Thanks!!!

    • 22/02/2012 / 12:20

      Hi Mia, thanks for the peppy comment, starts my day off nicely 🙂 I had a good experience at CUPA and found them very professional and the kitties had no post-op problems and everything healed nicely. With that said, I found it quite odd that they let me take the cats home while one was still passed out from the anesthesia. Jolie was awake but groggy when I went to collect them and she did vomit a couple of times when she fist started walking around at home but Saffron was completely zonked out for 45 more minutes and she was fine when she started walking around. And when they did get up and walk about they couldn’t really walk well because their legs were still sedated a bit so the poor things looked like spiders on a hot plate trying to walk around. They clipped their nails while they were under too, so if you have problems doing that I suggest you ask 🙂 Hope that helps 🙂 -angela

      • Mia
        22/02/2012 / 12:51

        Awesome! Okay, we’ll head on down to CUPA this weekend, or maybe next! Shadow seems to be er… in heat now and I guess we should wait till she’s over it? And yes! her nails too – my mauled hands thank you 😀

      • 22/02/2012 / 15:59

        Oh yeah, bummer, you have to wait now…. good luck to Shadow when you go! I’m taking Saffron in tomorrow I hope for nail clipping, she’s gonna hate it!!! 🙂

  9. Naveen
    29/05/2012 / 18:52

    You missed the most important bit! Did you get the curry delivered?

    • 29/05/2012 / 20:35

      hahaha yes, Empire is really pretty good and has a few guys who can understand me. Calling Subway in Frazer Town here is a real bitch for me, they don’t get me at all 🙁 And my new favourite place – Richies – luckily has one guy who understands me 100% and he gave me his mobile number to call when I want something delivered. BUT when he is off duty, I am completely out of luck because they other guys don’t understand my accent. It’s all my fault really for not learning some Kannada 🙁

    • 14/06/2012 / 19:27

      Hey Nithin, these are great links, thanks so much for taking the time to share them! Love it! -ange

  10. Jason Tauro
    07/11/2012 / 09:33

    Did you finally get your spicy chicken and sweet lassi? 😀 I totally understand what must have been going on between you and the guy on the other end of the phone. For a 3rd person that would have been like 2 crazy people on the phone trying to talk..lol… Glad you mentioned Wisconsin!! That is one not so amazing place.

    • 09/11/2012 / 19:14

      haha I’m sure I did get it, though I can’t remember now to be honest.  And hey, Wisconsin ROCKS, give it a chance.  I used to fly from San Diego to WI every 8 weeks or so for 3 or 4 to oversee the print run of a big catelog and I have some amazing fun stories from those business trips.  It’s where the guys from That 70s Show are from too..how can you not love it?? 🙂

      • Jason Tauro
        13/11/2012 / 07:03

        LOL.. I have been in Wisconsin for the last 6 months. So no short trips for me. After being in NY and Connecticut I certainly can’t come to love Wisconsin.. But yes I have to agree, the beer here is amazing!! 😀

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