Porcupyn's Blog

November 16, 2009

Switching tracks – arbitrarily or at random* …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Porcupyn @ 3:16 am

When watching videos on Youtube, it is nice when you are provided with a related list of songs to watch. Depending on the song you pick, you are provided with more choices. Each decision is linked to the previous decision.

For example, if you start off watching a song from the 1960s with, say, Sharmila Tagore, you will likely be shown more songs from the 1960s starring Sharmila Tagore to select from. There will likely be one or two outliers where either the song is from the 1970s or 1950s, or the actress is different. If, then, you pick a song with, say, Mumtaz, your subsequent choices will include more Mumtaz songs, and so on. You’ll get the feeling of being in a train, and the train has the potential to switch tracks based upon each of your selections. Talking of tracks …

Thanks to those years of listening to BBC News and Sports, and also cricket commentary over the radio, I can identify a handful of English accents, especially British English, Australian, several within the Indian subcontinent, and American. Since coming to the USA, I have added to my kitty the ability to identify a couple of European English accents (French, German), and a couple of African ones (South African and a mixed West African – i.e., I cannot tell apart the Ghanaian and Nigerian accents). All these are generic, in the sense that I cannot distinguish between the various accents within each of these nationalities.

While watching PBS a couple of weeks ago, I was totally thrown off track by the accent of a reporter for the Financial Times – just when I thought I was getting a handle on her accent, it switched, very much like a train that is not really continuously changing tracks, but is going and back and forth within the same set of two or three tracks. Noting her name, I googled her, and sure enough, she had the set/combination of complementary accents – part British, part French, part American – that, when “shaken, not stirred,”😉 served to addle me pretty good!! Maybe there is a specific mix of accents that she speaks, but I am not that proficient at accent identification. Now that I am referring to accents …

I just watched The Interpreter. While Nicole Kidman does a good job of masking her (natural) Australian accent, her refactored accent was no African accent. She ought to have taken lessons from Charlize Theron; better yet, maybe they should have chosen Ms. Theron for the role.

* = there is a rhyme and reason to this specific choice of words. Back in school, I remember us students using arbitrary to signify random, and we were corrected by our English teacher thus: While the word random does imply random, in the sense that there is no reason one option would be picked over the other, arbitrary, on the other other hand, though similar, is not the same because it would likely be based on the whim of someone.

In other words, though to the observer, it would still appear to be a random selection, to the doer, there would be an underlying reason (his or her own, or even truly random) for making the selection. Of course, in this post, I do explain my arbitrariness in picking a potpourri of seemingly random topics!😉

1 Comment »

  1. […] had a similar personal experience. But before I describe that, I need to refer to an old post I had written to show that since when I could differentiate between accents, it has been a hobby of […]

    Pingback by On Accents « Porcupyn's Blog — December 3, 2010 @ 12:14 pm | Reply


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