ASEAN’s sweet accents

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Phil signThe Philippine BPO industry is expected to usurp India in gross revenue by 2015, increasingly adding vigour with higher end jobs. A salient reason for this is largely because of Filipino’s favourable English accent to UK and US clients over that of Indian’s, the Hindu Business Line, an India online news portal, explains. Ironically, this syrupy voice is bringing the Philippines out of voice work – and perhaps much more.

By Justin Calderon

In the lead up to the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community, likely to come into existence at the top of 2016, the eminent free flow of highly skilled labour, especially those who can communicate with ease, is being analysed with utmost gravitas.

The annals of history, have, it now seems, predisposed some countries in Asia to have a greatest vernacular ability in the world’s business language. Those societies previously blocked by the anti-colonial policies or the proprietors of a mother tongue so antipodal from the global lingua franca will find that business potential in our increasingly globalised world will, far form sweet, become quite soured.

The following is a brief list of ASEAN languages, their histories, and accents, which I’ve made a tongue-and-cheek attempt at to describe:

Filipino

A nation with a 92.5 per cent English literacy rate, the Philippines is significantly easier to communicate with than the rest of its ASEAN neighbours. But the legacy of the brief occupation by the US during World War II is not the sound you’ll be hearing in conservations here.

The Philippines was a colony of Spain for over 300 years, at one period being passed on to Mexico for governance, still under the Spanish crown. This legacy is evident in Tagalog today, which is rife with many loan words from Spanish; sitting down at a dinner table, most of the names of things present will be similar or exact in pronunciation.

The Spanish legacy is also audible today. The Filipino accent can have a kind of light trilling sound, not unlike that heard in Madrid. The stresses used in Tagalog, like in Spanish, are essential to communication and will distort or change the meaning of the word if placed incorrectly. In Zamboanga, Mindanao, “Asia’s Latin city,” Chavacano, a Spanish-Filipino Creole further defines this past.

Combined with a parlance of English that is overtaking the BPO world, its no wonder Filipino bands have become a popular export.

Thai

While the educated elite centered in Bangkok have a high, albeit unceremoniously distinguishable accent, Thailand’s anti-colonial history barred the early entrance of English and other European languages, putting the society at an extreme disadvantage today.

Adding one more tone than the four found in Mandarin, spoken Thai has a recognizable sing-songy bounce to it. The erratic rhyme infamous to off-the-boat visitors derives from a combination of spiking tones with unique vowels that are held out, for holding out or cutting a vowel short will change the meaning of a word. Thai, unlike Mandarin, also has a rising and falling tone that, when combined with a falling tone, makes a discernable crescendo and decrescendo.

 Bahasa Indonesia

Indonesia’s archipelagic nature and fractious nature with its former Dutch colonisers has put the country at a similar disadvantage with Thailand, with something around less than one per cent of the 240 million population speaking proficient English.

Compared with the bahasa heard in Malaysia, Indonesian bahasa – a word that simply means language – has a trill to it, most pronounced in its R’s. This sharp sound is utterly distinct when pitched against Malaysia, whose more glottal bahasa is devoid of any such pitches.

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Philippine BPO industry is expected to usurp India in gross revenue by 2015, increasingly adding vigour with higher end jobs. A salient reason for this is largely because of Filipino’s favourable English accent to UK and US clients over that of Indian’s, the Hindu Business Line, an India online news portal, explains. Ironically, this syrupy voice is bringing the Philippines out of voice work – and perhaps much more.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Phil signThe Philippine BPO industry is expected to usurp India in gross revenue by 2015, increasingly adding vigour with higher end jobs. A salient reason for this is largely because of Filipino’s favourable English accent to UK and US clients over that of Indian’s, the Hindu Business Line, an India online news portal, explains. Ironically, this syrupy voice is bringing the Philippines out of voice work – and perhaps much more.

By Justin Calderon

In the lead up to the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community, likely to come into existence at the top of 2016, the eminent free flow of highly skilled labour, especially those who can communicate with ease, is being analysed with utmost gravitas.

The annals of history, have, it now seems, predisposed some countries in Asia to have a greatest vernacular ability in the world’s business language. Those societies previously blocked by the anti-colonial policies or the proprietors of a mother tongue so antipodal from the global lingua franca will find that business potential in our increasingly globalised world will, far form sweet, become quite soured.

The following is a brief list of ASEAN languages, their histories, and accents, which I’ve made a tongue-and-cheek attempt at to describe:

Filipino

A nation with a 92.5 per cent English literacy rate, the Philippines is significantly easier to communicate with than the rest of its ASEAN neighbours. But the legacy of the brief occupation by the US during World War II is not the sound you’ll be hearing in conservations here.

The Philippines was a colony of Spain for over 300 years, at one period being passed on to Mexico for governance, still under the Spanish crown. This legacy is evident in Tagalog today, which is rife with many loan words from Spanish; sitting down at a dinner table, most of the names of things present will be similar or exact in pronunciation.

The Spanish legacy is also audible today. The Filipino accent can have a kind of light trilling sound, not unlike that heard in Madrid. The stresses used in Tagalog, like in Spanish, are essential to communication and will distort or change the meaning of the word if placed incorrectly. In Zamboanga, Mindanao, “Asia’s Latin city,” Chavacano, a Spanish-Filipino Creole further defines this past.

Combined with a parlance of English that is overtaking the BPO world, its no wonder Filipino bands have become a popular export.

Thai

While the educated elite centered in Bangkok have a high, albeit unceremoniously distinguishable accent, Thailand’s anti-colonial history barred the early entrance of English and other European languages, putting the society at an extreme disadvantage today.

Adding one more tone than the four found in Mandarin, spoken Thai has a recognizable sing-songy bounce to it. The erratic rhyme infamous to off-the-boat visitors derives from a combination of spiking tones with unique vowels that are held out, for holding out or cutting a vowel short will change the meaning of a word. Thai, unlike Mandarin, also has a rising and falling tone that, when combined with a falling tone, makes a discernable crescendo and decrescendo.

 Bahasa Indonesia

Indonesia’s archipelagic nature and fractious nature with its former Dutch colonisers has put the country at a similar disadvantage with Thailand, with something around less than one per cent of the 240 million population speaking proficient English.

Compared with the bahasa heard in Malaysia, Indonesian bahasa – a word that simply means language – has a trill to it, most pronounced in its R’s. This sharp sound is utterly distinct when pitched against Malaysia, whose more glottal bahasa is devoid of any such pitches.

 

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