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Understanding Accents


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#1 munky

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 09:41 PM

So, I noticed something tonight that I think is related to sleep deprivation, and I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed the same problem.

 

Like so many others, I have days where I just can't track conversations. People can talk to me, I can hear them talking, I can hear the words, but they don't connect up; they don't mean anything. I end up having to ask people to repeat themselves and speak a little more slowly--or maybe use smaller words. Thankfully, my friends and family understand. They tease me about it, of course, but that's what friends and family are for, right? To help you find the laughter in situations that otherwise make you want to cry? It's more difficult with co-workers.

 

It's even more difficult when you're speaking to someone on the phone--and nearly impossible when the person on the other end has an accent. In my job, I deal regularly with one of our client's support groups in India. Even on a good night, I can have trouble with the accent. That, however, is mostly because the people we deal with tend to speak very quickly, and once I get them to slow down, we do okay. On bad nights, like tonight, it doesn't matter how slowly they speak, I just can't penetrate the accent. I might, if I'm lucky, pick out a word or two, but otherwise the sounds just ... don't fit together. I can't manage to piece them into words.

 

Luckily, most of our communication is by email. However, we do have to call them to let them know there is an issue and that we're emailing them the details. And, yes, I know the old joke about calling someone to tell them to check their email. But it isn't my choice, it's the client's requirement. And nevermind that, most of the time, they've read the email before they answer the phone. The answer to that is that we shouldn't send the email until after we've talked to them. Anyway, most of the details get passed by email, but there are times when they'll want to discuss the issue further on the phone, or they'll call us about an issue from their end. We generally ask them to email us the details, but there are times I can't be sure they're even repeating my email address back to me correctly, because the sounds just don't connect.

 

Now, I've noticed this mostly with Indian accents on the phone, because that's where most of our contacts are. However, there is one of the client's people who occasionally calls in whose accent is British, and I've had similar issues there--despite having spent a couple of formative years in Bermuda, a British territory, going to school with Brits, and being taught by Brits. At any other time, the British accent is almost as familiar to me as the various southern (American) accents I've mostly grown up with--familiar enough, anyway, that I've never had trouble understanding it, until now.

 

Again, this doesn't happen all the time, just on those particularly bad nights when I'm having trouble parsing things to begin with. So far, I'm just glad that it hasn't gotten so bad that I can't parse the various American regional accents I have to deal with. And I'm thinking it's just another effect of the sleep deprivation ... what was it DeathRabbit called it? Aphasia?

 

So, has anyone else noticed anything similar?



#2 Ariel K.

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 10:49 PM

I definitely have problems comprehending what people are saying! Like... I hear them, I just don't understand what they are saying. Even when it is in plain English.