Let’s be honest, we all do it. In Nairobi, every expat I knew adopted an odd, cod African way of speaking with a frankly bizarre syntax. Pakistan is a little different in that most English-speaking Pakistanis have posher Brit accents than I do. But I find myself pre-editing everything that comes out of my mouth in the patronising hope that I’ll be more easily understood.

Our Man in Hanoi

In defence of Joey Barton and Steve McClaren, an English footballer and manager who’ve headed abroad and adopted comedy foreign accents, it’s almost impossible not to.

Back when I worked at KOTO, I spent the whole day speaking pidgin English – later in the bar us volunteers would continue even among exclusively English speakers, as we found it hard to shake off.

You want beer? No? Yes? I think very hot today? No? Today crazy. I see you are very tired now.

When friends arrived in Vietnam before our wedding, there was a bit of gentle teasing about how we spoke. Truth is her English is as good as mine but we’ve grown used to that Vietnamese style of English where plurals are dropped and “the” is missed out. Just as I chuck in occasional Vietnamese words. Roi is a far better word than already. Ngon is better…

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3 thoughts on “

  1. I am still trying to rationalise it beyond simply being understood and all I can say is – I am a comedy foreigner. Like Dell Boy I have a load of stock foreign phrases (Vietnamese in this case) and I use them to relative comic effect while continuing to play the daft big lug westerner. I know my place and it works for me.

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