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The Sexy Indian Accent and Double Talk

I hate my American accent.  I know that I should be more proud of it and stand behind it but I just don’t like it.  Like so many other “American” things (the judicial system, healthcare, gay rights, health issues like obesity, lack of safe gun control, etc.)…I just prefer the European versions, which is where I have been living off-and-on the past two decades prior to moving to India.  So it goes without saying that I adore and prefer the British accent, the Australian, South African…hell, pretty much every other English accent other than my own.

With that said, it certainly wasn’t a stretch to fall head over heels in love with the Indian accent.  Indians speak British English.  Well, it’s sort of a British English with a spicy twist.  It’s the Eastern equivalent to the Latino Mexican Spanish versus Castilian Spanish scenario.  The Brits brought the language to India but once here it mixed with local dialects and turns-of-phrase to form its own version of the language – complete with a sexy unique accent and colloquial words and phrases to bring it to life as we know and love it today.  I imagine that this is exactly what happened with Mexican Spanish and the outcome is absolutely wonderful.

First, the Indian accent is unique and lovely.  Depending on how “international” or traveled someone is or how much time someone spends speaking English, they will obviously have a softer or thicker accent when they speak English.  Some of my friends or business colleagues I understand fully, 100% of the time and never have to say “pardon” to hear what they’ve said again.  Yet other times, someone will have me at full attention straining to understand what they are saying, and having to continually ask them to repeat certain words or phrases.  Their accent is still fabulous, just so closed and thick that for me I have a tough time understanding it.

There are a couple of words that friends say very differently here that I find to be very cute.  One is vodka, which is pronounced more like “wodka” but it sounds fantastic when they say it!  The other word – and this is my all-time favourite – is a curse word (sorry, Mommy!) but when they say it somehow it doesn’t sound bad.  If my mates say “f*cker” when they are goofing around it sounds something like a cross between “foo-cker” and “fu-care” … they say it really fast and it always makes me smile.  I am absolute crap at mimicking accents so I can never nail it like they do but trust me, it’s adorable.

Some accents are sexier than others, and the Indian accent is truly melodic.  It’s soo much fun to listen to, day in and day out, but – sorry to say – it doesn’t win the prize of sexiest accent in my book.  Since 2003, that title belongs to ‘English spoken with a French accent’!  That accent just kills me, I love it.  We all have one accent that melts us and, well, that’s mine.

On top of the accents, there are several new idiosyncrasies that I am starting to copy after only living here in Bangalore a few short months.  The Indian Head Bob is still the most surprising new trait I have happily adopted.  I do it quite involuntary now and I really like it – kind of wonder if that is going to stick with me forever?  But after the head bob follows the Indian Double Talk habit!  I noticed the Indian Double Talk right when I moved here while listening to a colleague talk on the phone.  Then I was in the car and my driver picked up a call and he did the Indian Double Talk too!  For me, Indian Double Talk is when Indians say the same word twice for emphasis.  The three that I hear the most are used primarily for phone calls and not face-to-face so much.  These are:

  • “Okay, Okay”
  • “Sure, Sure”
  • “Sorry, Sorry”

angelas-bangalore-blog-understanding-indian-accent-for-foreignerThose three I hear almost daily, and I definitely have started to use “Okay Okay” almost daily myself now too.  In Spain, the Spanish say “Si, Si” (yes) or “Vale, Vale” (sure/okay) so I know this isn’t unique to India, but here, with the Indian accent, it just sounds better.  I don’t know if this is typical all around the country but at least in Bangalore I hear it loads.

Last, there are oodles of phrases and words that are used in a way that is new for me.  It basically makes it so that I don’t understand what people are saying.  I have to ask for things to be repeated in another way in order to get what the heck someone is trying to say.  Sometimes more than once, this is sort of embarrassing.  The same happens in reverse, too, and I need to re-ask something when I have used too much slang or probably just spoken too fast.  It’s more a problem of someone not understanding my accent but I always start over, slow down, ask the question a different way, and typically that sorts it out.   Here are a few of my favourites new terms:

  • Where you put up?  (Where do you live?)
  • I’m shifting on Thursday.  (I’m moving on Thursday)
  • Here or parcel?  (Do you want it here or to-go?)
  • What’s your pin? (What’s your postal code?)

The communication problems aren’t just verbal either.  When I receive an SMS from a friend, the way that they shorten and abbreviate is new to me too sometimes.  In the beginning it was like trying to work out a riddle or word game, haha.  For example, they’ll use Vs for Ws here, like vt = with (“w” is what I had always used in the past).  Confused the hell out of me for a while!

It’s funny how the same language can vary from country to country.  I guess I didn’t expect this particular issue to be such a fun part of my day-to-day routine but it certainly helps in making India an even bigger adventure for me.

XOXO Angela

© Angela Carson, 2011

Angela Carson

At 21 I left uni, jumped into my Jeep Wrangler, and drove from my native California to live an adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I've explored 37 countries on 4 continents, residing in 8 of them (currently Indonesia's Riau Islands is my home). I even have a private pilot's license and was shot at once by bandits!

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Blank-Graphic Novel

    Ange, you know I normally love reading your posts. They are fun and interesting and well-written. But not today. You American-bashed me right off the page and I didn’t want to read any more.

    1. angela_carson

      Hey… and since when do you love the judicial system, outdated gay rights, lack of healthcare, gun control problems and obesity? You are as much a liberal dem as I am babes! 🙂

      1. Blank-Graphic Novel

        You know I don’t love those things. And yes I am as big a liberal… but that’s kind of my point. I am an American and I don’t believe that it is inherently “American” to believe in those things. I think it is equally American to stand against the moral retardation that many American’s put forth. I guess for me it’s more about “some American’s” then America.

  2. angela_carson

    Hey, I just read your comment and funny enough, when I re-read the post about 15 minutes ago I thought the same thing so I softened it. I do strongly feel all those things, which is why I don’t live there anymore. But I did soften the “hate the accent” thing 🙂 Sorry to piss you off babes xoxo

    1. Blank-Graphic Novel

      And I know that you feel strongly about those thins but your post was about “Accents” and if you had stayed on topic you could have made way more fun about Americans. My worhtless two cents 🙂 And i love you and know your heart.

  3. Bibi

    Ms Carson,
    Look here MISSY you and I have a CALIFORNIA accent, as opposed to the other regional accents of the US. Just be glad you don’t sound like Gomer Pyle!

    1. angela_carson

      You have to admit it is still the American accent that sounds the least sexy of all the accents… Yes, we are from Cali and that beats Gomer Pile (good call on using that as your example by the way!) but it’s still not as sensual and lovely as brits or aussies or even island accents 🙂

  4. abstractpsyche

    This post makes me smile. 🙂 I mean, its pleasant to read something like this after witnessing the ‘Canadian’ Russel Peters twisting,raping and murdering the Indian Accent. Probably his way of saying “I love the Indian Accent”, but displaying it in such a fashion makes the people conscious of how they speak sometimes. Oh! And the curse word you mentioned, IMO it sounds really different when you hear it from a Malayalee (a person from Kerala). Try it!!

  5. Thomas

    I’m guessing you sound like Cyndi Lauper ?!

    1. angela_carson

      haha not even close. I lived in Europe far too long and have thankfully smoothed out my accent simply by learning to annunciate my words properly 🙂 But that was funny, thanks! Cheers, angela

  6. Aunty Jee

    “complete with a sexy unique accent”

    LOL! You’ve got to be the ONLY woman ever to think the Indian accent is “sexy”. I’m Indian myself and I find it a MAJOR sexual turn off.

  7. I don’t know how but I missed this post of yours when I earlier spent my three days reading your blog… 🙁

    To tell you the truth, this is the first time I have heard anybody say that the Indian accent is sexy (all I have ever heard from people is that it is a thick accent and that we Indians don’t know how to speak English). So, its really nice to hear that from an American (or a European)… 🙂 and I was smiling all through the article so thats a plus for me.

    I would again like to state that you are the first foreigner that I have encountered who has such a positive attitude towards everything (well, almost) that is Indian. Kudos to you for such a positive outlook towards life, keep that attitude always… I really hope that you have a successful stay in India…

    1. angela_carson

      Thanks so much 🙂 And I really do like the Indian accent very much, much more than the American accent actually! -angela

  8. prasad3130

    I like the American accent the best and next comes Indian; British, Australian and Canadian the last. Everyone has their own tastes 🙂

    1. angela_carson

      Yes, we are all different … I can’t stand my accent but adore the Indian, Aussie and British accents 🙂

  9. Gabriela Steiner

    Hey Angela,

    Just came across your blog today. I’m a single white woman living in Bangalore, too 🙂

    By the way, the “sorry, sorry” sounds more like “sarry, sarry”, which means “okay, okay” in the Kannada, the local language 🙂

    I hope you still enjoy your time here!


    1. AngelaCarson

      Hey Gabriela, yes I did learn that later, this article was written shortly after my arrival 🙂  My driver Shiva taught it to me 😉  Hope you’ll keep reading, I’m going to check out your blog now too!!  -ange

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