Growing out of a Pakistani accent

During one of my days in the office, I met with Fajar, one of our first-year students, at QMU. She grew up and still lives in the East End. She is of Pakistani origin and has never really been to the north, south, or west of London.

Fajar likes the ‘posh accent’ from the news and podcasts, because ‘it sounds so nice and clear’. But the accent she calls ‘slang’ or ‘roadman accent’ sounds also ‘very familiar’ to her, ‘clearly from round here’, i.e. the East End. To her, it is defined by words like ‘bro’ and her brother is fluent in it: ‘It is definitely a teenage boy thing. It’s kind of a stereotype, but it is also true because they do speak like that.’ Her sister also sometimes uses slang, but she herself wouldn’t. Her friends from her same-sex secondary school also don’t use it at all.

While she would say she doesn’t really have an accent, she told me an anecdote of when her family went on holiday to Pakistan and the Pakistani taxi driver could immediately tell from the conversation between the siblings that they were from London. However, she also told me that when she and her siblings were small, they had a completely different accent – influenced by their L2-English-speaking father and initially only Urdu-speaking mother: ‘if you watch old videos of me and my siblings, we sound like we are from Pakistan.’ But while her mum still ‘sounds like when we were little’, being at school and talking and listening to her teachers and peers changed her accent.

Fajar, a QMU student from East Ham

%d bloggers like this: