So… I’ve been back home for a little more than a month now, and while it is great to be amongst family and friends, I have to say there are times when I’ve felt a little bit like a foreigner in my own country.
How so, you ask?
Well, there are times when people will be speaking to me, in English, and I have no clue what they are talking about…
Take, for example, the other day when I called up the local karaoke to book a slot for that evening. I asked to book a room for 7 people from 8pm that night, and then the lady replied, and I had no idea what she was saying.
So I said, “Sorry, could you say that again?”
She did (this whole conversation was in English, mind you) and I managed to catch something along the lines of, “One five eight,” and ,”Eight two two,” and presumably at the end, a question asking if I agreed to whatever she was telling me.
Which would have been great if I knew what she was saying! So I asked her to repeat herself again, but slowly, this time, and…
I still didn’t get it!
There’s only so many times you can ask someone to repeat herself so at this point I had to pretend that I understood and told her, “Yes, I agree,” without knowing what exactly I was agreeing to. (Later, after arriving at the karaoke, I gathered that she had been telling me about the kind of pricing deal they had on the rooms – RM158 for an 8pm to 2am slot in a medium sized room that fit up to 8 people.)
After a few instances of this sort happening I had to concede that my grasp of the Malaysian English accent is not what it used to be. *insert sadface here*
You see, the British speak very clearly and quite a bit slower than your typical Malaysian English speaker, who tends to speak very quickly, does not pronounce his or her words properly and also tends to let words run into each other or jumble them up. (I’m not saying this to put down my own country’s accent – it’s just what I have noticed.)
I used to joke to my British friends that if they put a bunch of Malaysians together and tried to listen in on their English conversation, they probably wouldn’t understand a word, and I used to say this proudly, because we have evolved our own unique way of speaking English… however this joke is not quite so funny when I have problems communicating in my own country!