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Old 05-16-2012, 07:00 PM
Location: Northern California
159 posts, read 461,723 times
Reputation: 87


I noticed sometimes when there's a middle aged Asian anchorperson or person in general on the news somewhere in the US who speaks with a standard American accent, and it's posted on YouTube, some people will point out "wtf... why does that Asian guy sound totally white?" or something along those lines. I figure these people questioning this might not live in an area with a long established Asian community.

I'm half Chinese American myself and I live in NorCal but in a more countryside area. It's still, however, fairly rare for me to meet an older Asian person who is born in the States and has the general American accent. My high school principal was third-generation Chinese born in SF, and I had a Japanese-American instructor before, and a Japanese-American vice principal in elementary school. It seemed like most people didn't think much of it, but quite a few people I know were like "wow... why don't they talk like regular Asian people?" lol... However, when I go to places like SF, or the South Bay, it seems slightly common to bump into an Asian person in their 50s and 60s and speak English with a totally Northern California/West coast accent, and happen to be raised in the U.S.

My friend got stopped by a cop in Southern CA last year by an Asian American cop in his 40s (I believe he was of Filipino descent) and he said he was totally shocked to hear his voice when the cop first spoke to him.

So this got me wondering... where you live, how often is it that you encounter an older Asian American (say 40+ years old) who's born or at least raised in the U.S., and has a totally "Americanized" accent? Are there large communities of people like this anywhere in the US, aside from San Francisco or NYC?
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:40 PM
6,472 posts, read 15,639,860 times
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I know some second-generation Chinese here in the Twin Cities who speak with the typical (not exaggerated "Fargo") MN accent. They even say Yahh! I know a guy who was born and raised in Chinatown on the South Side of Chicago and he has a classic Chicago accent.
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Old 05-16-2012, 10:44 PM
Location: Metro Phoenix
10,955 posts, read 15,664,513 times
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Well, granted I live in California, where there's a very large multi-generational Asian American community, but... I don't understand why people would be shocked by this. I mean, think about it:

- couple emigrate from Japan, have children
- children grow up speaking Japanese at home and English at school
- children pick up some nuances of their parents' speech, but plenty more from the kids around them
- children end up having a mostly-local accent with maybe a slight Japanese lilt with certain sayings, or in certain moods, etc
- children grow up, have their own children, to whom they infrequently, if ever, speak Japanese. They hear local accents at home, and local accents at school.
- third generation of kids speak little if any Japanese, and speak like the second-generation American they are.

I have a friend whose dad is Japanese-American, and mom is Chinese-American. She's third-generation American on both sides. She doesn't speak Chinese or Japanese, and admitted that when she was in grade school and they would learn about Asia, she was just as clueless as most of the non-Asian kids in her class about the customs and culture. She'd go home and ask her parents about stuff she'd learn, and they'd go, "oh yeah, my grandma would do that... huh. Funny."

This is how it is with me: my grandma didn't really pass on ANY of her cultural roots to us, at least not overtly, save for a few stories here or there, most of which were adapted to take place in the mountains of Oregon or the plains in Oklahoma. Accents? Nope...
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Old 05-23-2012, 02:50 PM
Location: Montgomery County, MD
3,237 posts, read 3,731,681 times
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The Asian population in America was less than 1% 40 years ago, almost all the Asians who live here now came since that time or are their kids or grandkids. The only old Asian person I can think of who speaks unaccented is the actor George Takei and I live in a heavily Asian area. A lot of old Asians who actually are from here almost certainly lived in an Asian ghetto or heavily Asian area like Hawaii, there weren't a ton of upper and middle class Asians in America like now, most were laborers. It's like how most black people are more than 2 generations American but have a black accent because most black people live in black areas.
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