Been really disturbed up by some ideas that people have brought up. Maybe it was just an off shoot remark or a quick reply with no other intentions. Maybe I am far too simple a person to think that we could reach total liberty. But these brought up a real problem of the stereotypical idea of classification: if we need to learn a language, it is best to take up the native accent. It is true from a learning point of view because we cannot read something that has a strong foreign accent that could mislead us in understanding what's being said. But if it means that learning the accent = to feel superior; or to dominate other cultures and peoples, then it is going to be a problem. This is often the root of any kind of rift or the start of problem.

IMHO, if we want to build a fair world, we need to understand sensitivity amongst different cultures and peoples. It is not an easy task to do. I too am fallible and am learning to master my tolerance skills by not being judgmental. But I do question and challenge people to such issues.

A side thought of what I've just posted at my LinkedIn group about accents, as well as chatting with friends about this matter : I bluntly spelled my thoughts that The world is a practical place and there is no such thing as perfect world by not differentiating people by accents. It is a fact and it is almost unavoidable. But I thought it may be high time to just take it by the substance than by accents. I worry that the acknowledgment of accents would bring about social dominance and unwanted discrimination.

An OT thought: if we have this kind of idea, can the world be ever be truly equal ? If one could differentiate by accent, then it is very natural that people be discriminated by skin color, physical features etc.

Design is a way of thought. The way of thought predetermines the way we decide about issues. Before we could talk about designing the physical product or a viable service that would earn respect; there is a huge need to recognize the sensitivity of different peoples and cultures.

PS: maybe I had taken the wrong educational path. For this kind of character like what my ex-tutors of my former high school had said, I should have gone to a liberal arts school in the US. They may well be correct. Had I chosen the path then I would have been a student at the Illinois Institute Of Technology / the University of Illinois. That was what the education counselor at the US Embassy in Singapore told me many years back. If you let me do it again, I would have picked Law and Management before taking up a course in Industrial design/Architecture. But the UK isn't a bad choice either though I learnt some precious lessons by the English countryside which probably no other place could offer - a natural pristine timeless beauty, with a sense of friendly nostalgia. You learn it by the natural way which probably allows you the time and energy to develop your own way of thinking and ideas that cannot be taught in college.

I have always been wondering about it the choice though I did want to head to the US for a postgrad.

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1 Response
  1. Karen Fu Says:

    You've raised some interesting issues. I tried to reply to your blog, too, but I need some link to a URL, which I don't have. So, just for you, here's what I intended to post:

    You're absolutely right that acknowledging accents can lead to social dominance and unwanted discrimination - it usually has in the past, and it will do so in the future. For instance, Mandarin is not the oldest form of Chinese language nor the closest to what most people originally spoke, but it was adopted by the emperor's court: so it's the one with the highest standing in official circles. Similarly, in a different time and place "RP" English, based on the pronunciation of a small section of the English upper classes, was used as a tool to dominate others, even into the twentieth century on the BBC. How can we overcome such prejudices? Surely not by ignoring them, but by recognising them and acting against them. Vive la différence!

    By the way, you don't need to feel bad about your choice of education. Whatever you end up doing will express you, whether you go to it directly by well-worn paths or indirectly. In fact, the roundabout route may teach you more. (The voice of experience, I'm afraid.)

    Posted on Behalf of
    Fearchar MacIllFhinnein
    June 15, 2009

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