Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Racist much?!

A friend, who happens to be a doctor, sent me the link to this article:

Sarah Colwill commonly suffers from migraines, but when an extreme headache caused her to call an ambulance last month, woke up in the hospital with an accent sounding more like someone who grew up in China rather than England, the Daily Mail reported.

Her new Chinese accent has made her voice unrecognizable to family and friends.
“I have had my friends hanging up on me because they think I'm a hoax caller,” she said. “I speak in a much higher tone now, my voice is all squeaky.”

Colwill was diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome, a rare condition that damages a part of the brain that controls speech and word configuration. She is currently undergoing speech therapy, but doctors are unsure her natural voice will ever return.

“I have never been to China. It is very frustrating and I just want my own voice back but I don't know if I ever will,” she said.

My-friend-the-doctor included this comment with the link: "Clearly this woman has brain changes to her speech center.... but GET REAL about the "Chinese Accent." I find that stereotyping based on her gibberish!!"


Anonymous said...

This is hardly racist. It's a little reaching to call it racist. English has many dialects and accents that are geographically based.

So if a person who normally speaks with a Manchester accent suddenly speaks with a Rhode Island accent, this would alarm her friends and family.

And if an author states this, it hardly makes him/her a racist.

Disclosure: I'm American of Chinese descent.

malinda said...

Thanks for the comment, Anon, but I think you're missing the point. My doctor friend doubts that the woman is in fact speaking with a Chinese accent. She think instead that the woman is speaking unintelligably because of damage to the speech center of her brain. Those who attribute the unintelligable babble to being a Chinese accent are making that determination based on stereotypical notions of how the Chinese speak -- i.e., unintelligablly.

Anonymous said...

Where does it say that the way the Chinese speak is unintelligible? I saw:

Her new Chinese accent has made her voice unrecognizable to family and friends.

LisaLew said...

"Paramedics said her voice sounded strange and when she arrived at hospital she realised she was speaking like a Chinese woman."

That's just silly and sounds like she is stereotyping! The "accent" thing is subjective. She's never visited China, she is not Chinese - nonsensical.

AChineseDad said...

Anon, I don't use the word racism lightly, but this Chinese accent thing is definitely a degrading racial stereotype of Chinese people. It's mocking the way that Chinese people talks. Maybe you should read the original report and readers' comments one more time. In case you don't see the racial stereotyping, here is what it's being implied. Speaking gibberish = Speaking Chinese.

Anonymous said...

Who has time to read the original article. If Melinda quoted the appropriate parts, then her results would be more credible.

As it stands, her cites do not merit putting a racist label on the author or the article.