ON NIGERIANS AND FAKE FOREIGN ACCENTS… By Nkechi Bianze
Four years after I came to the UK, just before my graduation, I met this Nigerian guy who was forming British accent. I found it quite irritating, but I kept mute.
I asked him how long he’s been in the UK, and he told me three months.
I said “Just three months and you are already forming this accent? What’s this?”. And he said “I want them to understand me”.
I have never seen a Caucasian tweaking his or her accent so that Nigerians can understand them, so why do some Nigerians try to do this?
The truth is that when you speak coherently in your Nigerian accent, the average Brit will understand you perfectly fine. They actually begin to struggle to understand when you try forming fake accents, because at that point when you are forming accents, you are neither Nigerian, British, nor anything at all.
For most of us who have been abroad, we can differentiate between real accents from fake accents.
I know when a Nigerian actually has a British or Canadian accent, and when the person is faking it.
Most often than not, once you are able to distinguish between fake and real British accents, you will find the fake ones VERY IRRITATING.
Whenever I see a Nigerian who is trying to fake British accents, I flag that person red in my heart as someone afflicted by serious inferiority complex and low self-esteem.
I heard that some parents in schools in Abuja are paying for their children to learn British accents.
It is shocking, disgusting and appalling!
Like, even decades after the whites abolished black slavery, some Nigerians are still living in mental slavery.
Answer these questions…
1. Why must your children in Nigeria learn British accent? What is that knowledge going to add to their overall development?
2. Do you know that even in the UK, there are more than 7 different British accents? So unique that a London born and bred might find it easier to understand a Nigerian than a typical Welsh person speak English?
3. Why do you think British accent is superior to your Nigerian accent, so much that you have to pay thousands for your child to learn it?
4. Do you know that many Caucasians find Nigerian accents beautiful?
No, let me burst your bubbles…
As long as your child is in Nigeria, he or she can’t be fluent in the accent of another place.
Environment plays the MOST VITAL role in the primary accent a child develops.
Even though your child manages to learn to say a few sentences in British accent, anyone who has spent at least two years in the UK will recognize your child’s British accent as FAKE.
It is the influence of the environment that polishes and makes permanent an accent in a child.
No matter how you try, as long as your child lives in Nigeria, his or her primary and main accent will remain Nigerian accent.
A child’s accent is greatly and mostly influenced by his or her environment. That’s why children born in the UK by Yoruba couples who have their parents speak Yoruba to them 24/7 still develop British accents as their primary accent, not Yoruba accents or any Nigerian accent.
This is because they live in an environment with a larger percentage of people having the British accent.
Primary accents are NOT taught, they are acquired by default from the immediate society, and usually before the age is 18.
During my stay in the UK, I met so many Nigerians.
I had one senior friend. He is in his 60s, a Yoruba man, and have been in the UK since the age of 21.
He did his bachelors and master’s degrees in the UK, had his three children there (two of whom are older than I am), and have built a career there.
This man has been in the UK for almost 45-years.
He still has his Yoruba accent. He speaks GOOD ENGLISH though, and the Caucasian Brits do NOT struggle to understand him.
Because he left Nigeria at 21, (over the age of 18), staying 45-years in the UK did NOT eliminate his primary accent, which is the Yoruba/Nigerian accent. But his children all have undiluted London/British accents because they were all born and bred in London.
My Dad’s childhood friend with whom he did secondary and University together in Nigeria left for the UK in the late 70s, shortly after they graduated. He is currently in his 60s, a Consultant Surgeon who has practiced in the UK as a doctor for over 30 years. I do speak to him on phone, and still has his typical Nigerian accent.
These are men who went to the UK in their early 20s, and have spent over 40-years there practicing prestigious professions, but still retaining their Nigerian accents.
Then one person will go visit for 6months or less and come back speaking like he or she swallowed their tongue, and they think it’s “Oyibo accent”.
My elder sisters have spend the past 14/15years of their lives in the UK. They did their bachelors, master’s and other degrees there in the UK. And if you talk to them, you will hear that they will sound like Nigerians. Neither of my sisters try to twist their accents.
However, my sisters’ children, nieces and nephews who are all below 7 have clear British accents as their primary accents.
I have spent the past 11years of my life outside Nigeria, between the UK and Canada. I have bagged two degrees here and working on my third. I still have my Nigerian accent.
There’s ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with Nigerian accent.