Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Arrneow Accent

Ateneans of an earlier age were well-known for their so-called Arrneow accent. Reading through the issues of Guidon from 1956 onwards, I realized that the accent came from the preponderance of American Jesuits from the New York Jesuit Province who volunteered to come to the Philippines and teach at the Ateneo. Looking through the yearbooks from 1956 to 1967, one could see that an overwhelming majority of administrators were Americans and that a number of teachers were also Americans. I guess boys who lived 16-17 years of their lives with these Americans eventually picked up the accent, most probably without really intending to. Now that most of the Americans are no longer around, Ateneans have managed not to inherit the accent.

Accents are indicative of where we came from. One of my all-time favorite movies is My Fair Lady starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison where Harrison plays the part of a phoneticist who can tell where a person is from and has been based solely on their accent. Harrison asserts that, "Anyone can spot an lrishman or a Yorkshireman by his brogue... but I can place a man within six miles. I can place 'im within two miles in London.Sometimes within two streets". Having lived in Thailand for seven years, I can pretty much tell if people are Thai even if they are speaking in English.

In the Philippines, especially in Manila, one can tell if someone is a probinsyano based on their accent. One of the professors in our school who knows how to speak French tells the story of hearing Filipinos speaking French at an airport with Ilocano, Bicolano and other Filipino accents.
We can tell more about where a person from the way they speak a language and not just the language they speak.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well, we who are "from the province" can also determine who is from imperial Manila by their thick Tagalog accent.