Category Archives: English and Accents.

English must be spoken well, with or without accent.

I’m troubled by the reason why a DJ was fired was because of her ‘lack of american accent’. If there’s an issue with ‘accents’, what’s with the government’s plans for more ‘Foreign Talents’? Won’t they influence our ‘accents” too? So we should try to speak chinese like a chinese man from China now?. Seriously, have we lost our identity?.

This is the letter from Chew Soowei:

Dear friends,

I wish I had told it to you in person but I wasn’t given the chance to.

My final show “Pillowfight with Soo” concluded Sat July 12 at 3.00am on 987fm.

Why? I’ve had a few people message me on Facebook asking me why I am not part of the new schedule out on 987FM. Let me give you the short version of the story.

The Monday after the July 12th episode of “Pillowfight With Soo”, first day of my annual leave, I received a phone call stating that I’d been taken off air and when I do come back from my leave I was coming back to a work situation where I was basically just “Helping Out/Subbing Others” around the office. The main reason as it was given to me for being taken off was that my English Language isn’t proficient enough and my hosting is and I quote “Just like I learnt it from the Outdoor emcees in Orchard Road”.

In the last year I was in and out of the office, been constantly told that there were really bad grammatical errors with my language and yet so many times when I asked for an example and help it couldn’t be produced. One of the few times it was produced, he had to call a fellow colleague to confirm the error because he didn’t know what was really truly wrong with me saying: “If only Shan sings as well as his cousin.” Out of these times, my favorite one would be an email stating that my diction was really bad and I should listen to American Radios Jocks and learn an American accent.

If my Spoken English is bad, people wouldn’t understand me. If people cannot understand me inevitably they wouldn’t tune in.

If so, how do I explain a steady increase in my listenership (bearing in mind I started on a shift that did not exist before I went on)? Why has my public profile increased in the last year? Why do I have more clients coming to me for public shows more than ever? And lastly, if my English is so bad, why did clients sponsor “Pillowfight With Soo” over and over again in a back-to-back fashion?

I have a long way to go with my spoken language and I am far from perfect. But Radio to me has always been about connecting with people. I chat with you… you chat with me. The rest of the world listens in on our conversation in a voyeuristic fashion. I’ve always done my shows with the idea that I am speaking to only one person and if that one person gets me… we’ve connected. I am who I am. If you bumped into me in the streets I will sound like how you hear me on Radio. No pretense, No announcer-ish bravado and certainly no fake American accent. As far as Radio is concerned, if you understood me on a human level, I’ve done my job. You might hear some poetic justifications on why I was removed or maybe how loved I was in the station or how much has been done to help me out…so I’m writing this note so you will get a glimpse of the truth rather speculate the situation. I hope you don’t think that I’m just venting my bitterness. There is none looking back at the great times I had with my 987 family. So with all that said… I am taking myself out of the “Equation” and my last day will be on 4th August 2009.

In light of the situation, I’m writing you this letter to thank you for the wonderful magical times I’ve had on the show.

Staying up late was never an issue; I’m a creature of the night. Somehow, the world awakes to a different light after the stroke of midnight. It’s the conversations we had that I will miss most of all.

“Scandal anonymous”, this segment is the most fun a girl can have at night. In case, you wonder what the fuss is all about…the listeners call in with a nickname and share a deep dark secret or something embarrassing. I’m going to share some of my personal faves. By the way, the names I’m using below are merely nicknames, so as to protect the real identity of the listeners.

Sarah is a young and restless teenager working at a convenience store for some extra bucks, one day she was so bored…she started using needles to poke at condom boxes.
Tim broke up with his perfect girlfriend of 10 years because he couldn’t bear the burden of the secret anymore. He couldn’t bear to lie to his parents and friends that his girlfriend used to be a man…and that they were from the same all-boys school together.

Peiling has been chatting online with this guy for the past 10 months now and the guy initiated a meeting with her. After all, they have fallen in love over the Net. The only problem is, Peiling has been lying about her physical appearance. She has been on a strict diet for the past 10 weeks and still kilos away from her virtual description.

I could go on forever about the dirty secret video tapes to foamy lovemaking sessions at Zoukout to a pregnant girl carrying her boyfriend’s best friend’s child to a mischievous boy peeing into a cup and trying to make his least fave uncle think it’s chrysanthemum tea etc etc. The drama is relentless every night and I loved every moment of it.

With all that fuss, it’s just good old telephone conversations and a connection between 2 complete strangers…I may not know you now but I’m getting closer to your life with every conversation. I love chatting with you. Thanks for opening up your heart to me late into the night and talking about your pet hamsters. Your stories, I will carry them in my heart. But I also have to be honest; sometimes I do get really frustrated, when you have little words but strange noises in between. Sometimes I get really scared as well, when you put on a demonic accent and say lewd things I cannot air.

It’s been a good fight.

If you‘ve been chronicling my life from an ambitious wide eyed driver wannabe to a licensed P plate maniac on the road, I hope you’ll look back and laugh at the stories of my great inability to parallel park or try to beat my 20 min struggle to reverse in a tight spot. For those who ever turn on the stove and tried to make a meal before, there are some videos of my experimental dishes tried by the Muttons. They are currently still alive. If you’ve been part of my life somehow, going through a tough time or a celebratory moment, thank you for sharing my life. If I’ve been part of your life, going through a break up or mad study night, thank you for having my voice in your ears.

I’ll be moving to a different, perhaps, more adventurous chapter of my life and I hope you’ll think of me fondly from time to time and always remember that if I ever have the chance again, I’ll pick up your call and have a good old friend’s heart to heart chat.

Till then,
Soldier on

I don’t know about you, but the few times that I have listened to her, I was impressed by her diction. Its not pefect, but its easy on the ear. I agree with this statement: ‘If my Spoken English is bad, people wouldn’t understand me. If people cannot understand me inevitably they wouldn’t tune in.’

Utimately, its not accent that is important when it comes to talking. English is a universal language. Accent is not. This is Singapore. While I don’t recommend Singlish, I believe we should speak like the normal Singaporean on the street. We need to have an identity. I think its a shame when Singaporeans try to spaek with an American or any other accent.

This shows that we have an identity crisis. We watch American shows, we learn British English but we speak Singlish. I feel what Mr Brown said is very good: ‘If I wanted to listen to an American DJ, I’d listen to an American program online. If I wanted a British accent, I’d listen to the BBC.’

Singaporeans DJs, and the normal Singaporean should just stick to speaking English the Singaporean way. With the lahs, lors, hor.



Filed under English and Accents.