“My initial desire to adopt a fully American or British accent was a result of wanting to fit fully with specific groups of people. My experimentation of accents might even have stemmed from my subconscious search for an identity. Ultimately and understandably, the English I now speak is way more complex than I (or my parents) had ever dreamed it would be.

I still have the tendency to change accents according to the environment and people, but I now do it less out of an anxiety about my identity and more for the sake of communication. If I meet Americans, I’ll adopt an American accent. When I’m in the UK, British inflections abound. By doing this, I can communicate most effectively with others. I take pride in my ability to switch freely between accents to match the appropriate circumstances, viewing it as just another part of my complex international persona.

I’m never going to have just one accent, one language, one way of speaking. If I limit myself to just one accent, I would be limiting my identity and who I am. I’m already wavering between countries, cultures and languages—why not accents too?”

-Justin Lau


A Mid-Atlantic accent, or Transatlantic accent:


There will be those who are constantly seeking to put a label on how others’ speak and how they speak themselves, uncomfortable with unbelonging, unable to confront ignorance and unfamiliarity.

It is their misfortune that they cannot experience the vast spectrum of human connection. It’s funny how the judgmental ones are the singaporeans around me, family included, (they don’t mean to insult but I think people just don’t think critically or live to communicate meaningfully) and not the Caucasians I meet.

And there will be those who embrace diversity by challenging their own assumptions and putting themselves outside of their own comfort zones.

I’ve always thought ‘ignorance is bliss’ and the reason why I’m constantly so burdened is because I’m always carrying self-knowledge like a heavy purse in my pockets but no I’m wrong about myself – I haven’t reminded myself enough about the way I live in bliss in my ignorance of humanity, in my belief that there is always something I don’t know about people.

To look within, and to understand the way you behave, is enough. Before coming to the UK I couldn’t speak with British inflections, and after picking it up it’s all so weird when my speech fluctuates from the Singaporean accent, to British inflections, then lapsing to the American accent sometimes, because I had the habit of using the American accent with doris and alex and ync faculty, mum’s previous bosses and from watching eight seasons of house and American but not British films. But, ever since I’ve ‘picked up’ British inflections, or rather, incorporated it into my speech, I think when I ‘switch’ to speaking in the American accent when speaking to people who use that, I don’t exactly pull it off. People who are insecure about themselves point out such failures to me.

I remember speaking to a middle-aged Australian man at a bus stop, telling him that his Australian accent doesn’t appear to be that strong to me, although he identifies Australia as his home despite having lived in all parts of the world. He says that when he goes to New York, they think he’s American from the way he speaks, although he doesn’t adopt their accent. It’s all so funny. But one thing’s for sure, your accent is influenced by your human interactions.

So yes, whether I speak in my American or British accent, or simply a westernized ‘English’ accent, it is all mediated through my own voice: I speak in my own accent, I am unique, cheers. My identity is profound, because I allow myself to relinquish labels and relish in the richness of difference.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: