By Hudson George
While French Creole as a language is dying in Grenada as the older citizens pass beyond this life, very soon our Grenadian version of speaking English will die out too. These days it is very common to hear persons employed in radio and television media speaking with Canadian and American accents. And what makes these people’s presence more annoying in our Grenadian culture is that some of them are involved in politics and telling the local citizens to support and promote everything local.
Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers
Now do not get me wrong, I am not against Grenadians who can imitate foreign accents but I think that only idiots will give up their Grenadian accent completely, when they decide to return to the Spice Isle permanently to live, until the creator calls them to rest in peace. However, the foreign accent we adopt in North America is not our Grenadian accent and it is not the British standard English, like how our former governor general the late Sir Paul Scoon imitated almost perfectly. Therefore, I think it is foolish for us to go back to our towns and villages with these fake accents trying impress our old time school mates, friends and neighbours who never lived abroad.
On the other hand, even though I accept the fact that, when we travel abroad and study in college and university and become educated, we tend to speak with more confidence. The higher education we attain give us the ability to explain important issues effectively, but that does not mean because we are educated we must give up our Grenadian accent and live the rest of our lives imitating a foreign accent to feel important. Imitating and copying a foreign accent cannot make us more intelligent. As a matter of fact, persons who keep on imitating foreign accent to communicate with Grenadians back home are acting like characters in theatre plays.
Personally, I believe that those Grenadians who willfully stop speaking English in their Grenadian accent are setting a bad example for the younger generation. They are sending out the wrong message to younger Grenadians, telling them that our Grenadian accent is not worthy as a means of communicating in the English language.
However, I observe that some of these Grenadians with these fake foreign accents are now into active politics and they are shameless and bold enough, using the radio and television media to promote the importance of our local foods and local industry. They are the advocates encouraging the citizens to eat the foods that we grow locally and stop buying foreign food products. Some of them even go as far as making statements blaming the youths for neglecting our Grenadian traditions, as though they forget that our Grenadian accent is part of our traditions to preserve.
Whenever I tune in to some of the radio talk show programmes in Grenada through the internet and I hear some these Grenadian returnees speaking in a foreign accent and making comments about the importance of building Grenada's local economy, I laugh. And the reason why I laugh is because I realise that these folks do not understand the real importance about local things in Grenada. These people fail to realise that our Grenadian accent is part of our national heritage too.
Our Grenadian accent is equivalent to our green bananas, papaya and local chicken. And if we must buy local grown papaya instead of imported yogurts from the supermarket, why should these Grenadian returnees import their foreign accent to Grenada. Basically, I think they should live their foreign accent in Canada and the United States when they board the airline to disembark in Grenada.
Additionally, I think these copycats are not qualified to promote our local industry. And if ever they meet me face to face and try to convince me to eat green bananas, papaya and local chicken as healthy foods, I will tell them it is not culturally healthy for born and bred Grenadians to be imitating Canadian and American accents to prove they are smart and intelligent. I believe that those of us who want to lead, must set proper examples for others to follow.
If foreign accent is all that important among media persons for them to make an impact, the late Anthony “Jericho” Greenidge would not have been one of the most popular Grenadian radio programmer and journalist. Jericho studied journalism in the United States. He returned to Grenada with his journalistic skills but he never lost his Grenadian accent. And due to the fact that Jericho kept his accent, he was grounded with the ordinary people throughout the tri-island state. In addition, Jericho attracted listeners to his programme in the neighbouring islands such as St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. Jericho was so popular, his funeral was one of the biggest ever took place in Grenada.
Additionally, it seems as though they are not aware of the fact that they are jumping from the frying pan to the fire, when they imitate the North American standard of colonial English, which is not proper English. Basically, they make me really laugh, when they pronounce the word water as a “wadder”. And as matter of fact when we say “watah” in our Grenadian version of speaking English, we sound closer to the British standard of English than the North American pronunciation “wadder”.
Based on my observation socialising with various English-speaking Caribbean people, it seems as though there is a percentage of Grenadians who do not happy with their version of colonial English and they keep searching for other versions of colonial English to make them feel good about themselves. And by searching for other versions of English to give them a higher self esteem, they become Caribbean citizens who do not have an identity.
As a English Caribbean people, our accent is what stands out to identify what country we come from. For instance, whenever educated Barbadians speak, they still have their Barbadian accent. So why are some educated Grenadians “monkeying” around with a North American accent to feel important?