Thursday, September 16, 2010

jaw movement, american english

A lot of them don't move their jaws when speaking English; I've even encountered some who would do it when speaking their home language (which varies by zone) but not in English. I've never met people from other places who speak moving their mouths as little as the Indians do (some Brits don't move them much, the ones who make all the vowels sound like some sort of ae hybrid - maybe Indian English derives from those guys?).

Until a few weeks back this was just my personal observation, but I recently caught a travel documentary (Aussie make, I think) which talked about people being taught to "speak American" to work in call centers and the teacher kept emphasizing "move your jaw, move your jaw!" She looked like someone imitating "a Texan's hot potato talk" for a standup routine.

Some of my coworkers in America were from India. Company policy (created, I think, back when the only people who got transferred between countries were high-level execs with three kids and a SAHW) indicates that foreign workers from countries where English is not the official language must take English lessons; if your country's language is English, you don't have the right to English lessons. This led to myself being told "your English would be fine for California or Texas, haha, but we'll teach you Philadelphia English" (well, gee, the factories I'm assigned to are in Houston, LA and San Francisco, ain't that nice!) while some of the Indian guys went nuts trying to understand why nobody understood them. Official language and native tongue are not the same, for many people.

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