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What do you think?
If people dislike me for a DIFFERENT reason, they can use accent as an excuse 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
People can look down at me for my accent 40%  40%  [ 2 ]
Neither of the above 60%  60%  [ 3 ]
Total votes : 5

QFT
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28 Oct 2021, 4:24 am

I came from Russia to America when I was 14. Right now I am 41, but I still have thick Russian accent. However, one thing I noticed is that the past few years people had a lot more difficulties "understanding my accent" than they did in the past. Since my accent was always really thick, that makes me wonder whether it has to do with their attitudes. Like could it be that they like me less than they did before, because I am older. Or I live in a different state than I was before. Or the attitude towards foreigners changed?

One thing I noticed is that if I ask something rude, people can pretend not to hear me in order to avoid the situation. But then they also pretend not to hear me even if I don't ask anything rude. So could it be that they misunderstand it as rude even when I don't mean it to be?

In any case, here are two SEPARATE phenomena I am concerned about:

Phenomenon 1: They don't have problem with accents but they DO have problem with my Asperger. So they use my accent as an excuse to avoid dealing with someone who has Asperger

Phenomenon 2: They DO have problems with people that have accents. So they look down at me for having an accent. And my Asperger only adds insult to injury

I think both phenomena are quite unfair. But I am wondering if you think either of the two takes place.

Here are some recent examples where people didn't understand my accent:

a) At the grocery store they were giving bag without handles for free or bag with handles for 15 cents. I always prefer to pay 15 cents and get the one with handles. But they never ask me unless I bring it up: they just keep giving me the bag without handles. And each time I do ask for the bag with handles, they don't understand what I am asking for and I routinely have to repeat it 2 or 3 times AT LEAST (sometimes more). Well, there was one time when they thought I asked for a bag with CANDLES and I had to correct them no its not CANDLES its HANDLES

b) When I order coffee they never understand right away what I mean, and I have to repeat it several times. Actually Russian pronounciation of the second letter "o" is different from English one. In order for me to get them to understand me, I have to put an effort to pronounce it in the English way (and even then they mgiht not understand right away). If I decide, out of principle, to keep pronouncing in the Russian way, I can repeat it all day long and htey would still not understand me.

c) I once ordered a steamed milk, and the guy thought I ordered skimmed milk. I said that I meant steamed. But he still thought I wanted skimmed: I guess he interpretted it as me wanting both steamed and skimmed. So the stimmed milk that I got was the skimmed one.

d) I was about to walk into the university bus and I asked the driver if she is going to Lobo Rainforest (thats the name of one of the dorms). She was in the middle of conversation with the other passenger (there was nobody else just the two of us) and by her facial expression she wasn't particularly happy to shift her attention to me. But she, reluctantly, anwered. Her answer was that she didn't hear waht I said. So I repeated. She again didn't hear what I said. So when I said "Lobo Rainforest" for the third time, she said yes she goes there. Then, a while later, she asked one of the other passenger where he is going. And then she asked me "and you are going to Lobo Village, right?" (lobo village is a different dorm). And I said "NO, I am going to Lobo RAINFOREST" And then she said "I misunderstood, I thought you are going to lobo village; no I am not going to lobo rainforest". And then after that she talked to the OTHER GUY how she wishes there were more buses going to rainforest. So from that conversation I can deduce that she is quite familiar with lobo rainforest. So why is it she didn't understnad when I was saying it three times?

e) I went to a caffeteria and the cashier said "hi how are you" (which is what they formally say when they want to take an order). I responded "I am doing okay how are you". She didn't hear what I said and asked me to repeat it. So I repeated it slowly. She again asked me to repeat it. I repeated it like 3 or 4 times, and hten only she heard it. It feels ridiculous when i have to repeat something as simple as that 3 or 4 times.

f) There was a guy that gave me ride home from the Bible study a few times. One day that group was going to meet at the caffeteria. Now, I am not vaccinated, and that particular caffeteria doesn't allow unvaccinated people to sit inside. So I called that guy and asked him if they could sit outside. He thought I called him asking him for a ride. As it turned out I called him the day after that meeting took place (my phone was off so I only got text message about it the next day) and therefore the whole thing was moot. However, the point remains: how could he EVER think I asked for a ride given that I asked something TOTALLY DIFFERENT. So its like he didn't even hear what I was saying and simply decided to assume what it is I want instead of actually listening to me.

In any case, the question is: how come none of those misunderstandings ever happened 10 years ago. My accent was always just as thick as it is now. Thats why i am thinking that when people misunderstand me they are doing it on purpose as a way of rejecting me. And somehow I am even more unpleasant than I used to be, or something like that.



kraftiekortie
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28 Oct 2021, 7:47 am

I would concentrate on making great discoveries in physics----instead of ruminating about this stuff.

What you said might be true for one person----but might be totally false for another person.

It just so happens that a Russian accent in a woman is very stimulating :heart:



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28 Oct 2021, 6:53 pm

Look, an accent is going to dissuade some women (that's inevitable). However you can compensate by slowing the pace of your speech to articulate your words. Often the main turn-off has nothing to do with the nationality or accent itself, it has to do with being able to process what you are saying without making an effort to decode the accent.



QFT
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28 Oct 2021, 8:14 pm

cyberdad wrote:
Look, an accent is going to dissuade some women (that's inevitable). However you can compensate by slowing the pace of your speech to articulate your words. Often the main turn-off has nothing to do with the nationality or accent itself, it has to do with being able to process what you are saying without making an effort to decode the accent.


Speaking of "effort to decode my accent", is it really about "effort" or is it about attitude? Because like I said, somehow a decade ago I didn't have that problem even though my accent was just as strong.

Could it be that the REAL issue is that they are looking down at the person with an accent and so they think that "decoding it is not worth the effort"? Do you think that people that are prejudiced against foreigners would be more likely to "get confused" by the accent? If so, then "getting confused" is really an attitude thing.

And thats what pisses me off. Because its basically a passive aggressive behavior.



cyberdad
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28 Oct 2021, 8:49 pm

QFT wrote:
cyberdad wrote:
Look, an accent is going to dissuade some women (that's inevitable). However you can compensate by slowing the pace of your speech to articulate your words. Often the main turn-off has nothing to do with the nationality or accent itself, it has to do with being able to process what you are saying without making an effort to decode the accent.


Speaking of "effort to decode my accent", is it really about "effort" or is it about attitude? Because like I said, somehow a decade ago I didn't have that problem even though my accent was just as strong.

Could it be that the REAL issue is that they are looking down at the person with an accent and so they think that "decoding it is not worth the effort"? Do you think that people that are prejudiced against foreigners would be more likely to "get confused" by the accent? If so, then "getting confused" is really an attitude thing.

And thats what pisses me off. Because its basically a passive aggressive behavior.


I wouldn't read too much into this. When I was in school we had a number of Polish kids who wee refugees from the Soviet Union. They all had very strong accents. The local students did look down on them because they were hard to understand. Today I know they have all succeeded, doctors. engineers and one girl who could barely speak English back in the 1980s is now a successful lawyer.

I agree with Kraftie, focus on your own personal success, don't ruminate over what others think of you.



Texasmoneyman300
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29 Oct 2021, 1:41 am

I am sure there are a lot of people who look down on the small town West Texas accent which is the one i have so they could dislike me for that.



QFT
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29 Oct 2021, 9:48 am

cyberdad wrote:
The local students did look down on them because they were hard to understand.


See, this is the exact thing I am complaining about. Why are people looking down at others just because they are hard to understand? Its unfair!

With regards to your saying how well they did in the future thats irrelevant, because I never said I am incapable. I said others judge me negatively. And your message confirmed that point.



theprisoner
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29 Oct 2021, 10:00 am

I've been told i dont have much of an accent. I just speak plain english, but of course regional dialect will tend to slip in there sometimes.

Texasmoneyman300 wrote:
I am sure there are a lot of people who look down on the small town West Texas accent which is the one i have so they could dislike me for that.

bleedin well right mate, if any bloke gives you aggro just bost him in the gob.


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29 Oct 2021, 10:25 am

If you live in a different area than you used to, it makes sense that they might not understand you as well as people in other places did. Maybe people were used to Russian accent in the places you were at before, but not in the current place.



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29 Oct 2021, 11:53 am

I can't understand inner city accents. It's not that I don't want to, but my brain just doesn't process the speech differences well. And that's usually taken a lot more rudely than anyone with a foreign-type accent that I've asked to repeat something. I get asked to repeat things too because I speak in longer sentences & use words that aren't everyday words for most people (outside my friend groups).



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29 Oct 2021, 12:13 pm

I relate to this. I was an English kid in a Scottish school. I had a lot of miscommunication issues. Whole turns of phrase that each other didn't understand... Plus I was the weird autistic kid.

Did they dislike me because I was English or autistic. I'll never know.

I have an Eastern European acquaintance who I strongly suspect is on the spectrum. I find him really difficult to understand. He has a strong accent, he's awkward and he mumbles. I feel so bad when I don't grasp what he's saying, plus I have an auditory processing disorder. I can't read his lips, he hardly moves his lips, his body language is off. We just don't communicate well.



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31 Oct 2021, 7:41 am

Maybe they have a problem with the accent, but aren't looking down on you? It sounds like people misunderstand you a lot, and it's really awkward trying to talk to someone if you're struggling to understand what they're saying. Some people will pretend not to hear someone they find hard to understand in the hopes that they won't have to make the effort to figure it out.

Regarding things getting more difficult, a lot of people don't realize it, but it's not just Deaf people who lipread. Many hearing people do too, subconsciously, and experience it as someone's voice sounding clearer and more distinct if they're looking at the person's lips. So, given that we're in a pandemic where you're expected to have your mouth and nose covered in public, that could be making you more difficult to understand.

Either that, or maybe you're making less effort to pronounce things the American way? Maybe you got out of practice because of less social contact?



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31 Oct 2021, 10:57 am

Fireblossom wrote:
If you live in a different area than you used to, it makes sense that they might not understand you as well as people in other places did. Maybe people were used to Russian accent in the places you were at before, but not in the current place.


That actually makes sense. I haven't thought about before but now it makes sense when you mention it.

On a different note, a few years ago, my then-counselor told me that usually its mans job to approach women but in very liberal states -- such as California and New York -- that might not be the case. Even though I haven't thought about it either before he brought it up, after he did that made a lot of sense. Because California is where I used to be at when women were talking to me, and then I started feeling ostracized when I moved to Minnesota.

Although there could be other factors:

1) In California I was living with my mom and my mom was making sure I look presentable hygine-wise, that my clothes match and aren't all wrinkled, etc.

2) I got banned from Clare Sainsbury mailing list few months "before" moving out of California and when I did, I had an idea of making friends to "replace" people on that list. It was the first time I really wanted friends, therefore

a) Even if I was rejected just as much as before, I was taking it more personally

b) People might have picked up on my desperation which might have been a turn off

3) The 911 happened few days after I moved from California. So maybe people's attitudes overall changed due to this

Still, however, when it comes to accent, it wasn't the issue in Minnesota either, neither it was in Michigan. But it became an issue in Mississippi and New Mexico. So, going back to your point, maybe different people with different accents tend to go to northern states but not so much southern states? For example in California, Minnesota and Michigan everyone seemed to be from across the country, but in Mississippi and New Mexico people tended to be a lot more local.

The other thing I am thinking of is that in Albuquerque (which is where I am at) there is a lot of drugs, homelessness, etc. So maybe people are a lot more wary of strangers for that reason.

And of course last but not least: I am older. So maybe being older makes people more suspicious of me particularly since it makes it seem like I am not really a student and just walked in campus for god-knows-what reason, plus the people that are on drugs are also oftentimes older.

But then again professors are even older yet nobody thinks of them as suspicious. So maybe it does have to do with the way I take care of my appearance.



QFT
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31 Oct 2021, 11:02 am

Ettina wrote:
Regarding things getting more difficult, a lot of people don't realize it, but it's not just Deaf people who lipread. Many hearing people do too, subconsciously, and experience it as someone's voice sounding clearer and more distinct if they're looking at the person's lips.


Yes, my mom used to work in the oral school for the deaf, and so she knows this. She told me that, even though she herself isn't deaf, she notices that she "hears" people better when she puts her glasses on (even though she is near sighted she tries not to wear glasses too much in order to prevent her vision from deteriorating). I am going even a step further: I am nearsighted and I don't have glasses at all. So maybe thats part of the reason why I have trouble understanding people?

Ettina wrote:
So, given that we're in a pandemic where you're expected to have your mouth and nose covered in public, that could be making you more difficult to understand.


Yeah, but the issue of people misunderstanding me started long before pandemic. So I came to America in 1994. By 1997 I learned to speak good English, and I was in India from 2009 till 2014. Between 1997 and 2009, the accent was not an issue at all (although I was ostracized due to all of the *other* things I been talking about). Then in India they had trouble understanding me, but I blamed it on "their" poor English skills not mine. Yet when I came back to America, in 2014, I saw that Americans didn't understand me either. And that was when I first had that question why is it Americans have more trouble with my accent than they did in the past. Seeing that I came back from India to America in 2014 and COVID started in 2020, I don't think you can entirely blame it on masks.

Although I did notice that one time I got really frustrated the other person couldn't hear me so I lifted up my mask and then it somewhat helped. So I guess masks can make it worse. But it still doesn't look like they are the only reason.

Ettina wrote:
Either that, or maybe you're making less effort to pronounce things the American way? Maybe you got out of practice because of less social contact?


But I don't remember any time when I "did" try to pronounce things in American way. If anyone, it was my mom that kept trying to do it and I was always finding it annoying that she did. As for me I would just speak the way the words would come out.



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31 Oct 2021, 7:27 pm

QFT wrote:
Or I live in a different state than I was before.

Which state did you live in before, vs. which state do you live in now? Also what general kind of city or town? A very cosmopolitan city with people from all over the world, with lots of different accents, or a more culturally homogeneous place?

Other factors being equal, people are more likely to be impatient with your accent in culturally homogeneous places where fewer people have foreign accents.

My boyfriend does not have a foreign accent, but does have a speech impairment that is often mistaken for a foreign accent. He has experienced people being impatient with his speech impairment in most places where he has lived, EXCEPT for New York City.


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QFT
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31 Oct 2021, 8:37 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
QFT wrote:
Or I live in a different state than I was before.

Which state did you live in before, vs. which state do you live in now? Also what general kind of city or town?


The places where they had no trouble with my accent were Berkeley (California), Minneapolis (Minnesota) and Ann Arbor (Michigan).

Places where they have troulbe with my accent are Oxford (Mississippi) and Albuquerque (New Mexico).