Friday, February 25, 2005

Trying Hard to Slang

**I don't know if this is supposed to be funny or just plainly cruel.

One of the many things that kept me busy this month was this week-long training course in American Accent. I took it with the idea that a certificate in my resume would increase the size of my balls to near-implosion, and though I don't really need to enroll to validate my speaking skills, it would be fun to show off. Basically, I was there to get certified and to look nice, but I really had no idea what I would realize in the long run.

There were about eight of us in our training batch, and like they always do, we started the session with a brief introduction of ourselves. I spoke last, but before I was able to deliver my verbal handshake, I was bombarded with enough inconsistencies to leave me speechless for a while.

We haven't started training yet, so the obvious absence of the American accent was forgivable, but the tragedy doesn't begin there. We have a situation regarding their understanding of English, and believe me when I'm trying hard to make a sufficiently condescending understatement.

Underscore "sufficiently condescending..."

It was a five day training course, and I learned everything I needed to understand on Day One. Sure, I was able to pick up useful tips on how I can further improve, but everything else that I've come to understand was just simply disappointing. Don't get me wrong, the training program in itself deserves a tap on the back for it was just marvelous. But my co-trainees were, well, for lack of a better word, they were horribly _______.

I'm not usually this blunt when talking about people (har), but their understanding of the English language was sufficiently far from admirable. To say that they have a loose grip on the English language would be a morbid work of charity. I mean, the following lines from those _____ are simply dumbfounding, and hopefully will help you fill in the blanks. And understand that I was using a spell checker before posting this, so typographical errors are just plainly impossible.

"I'm not happy anymore with the depression things and the mind boggling stuff."

"I like to play basketball because of my camaraderie of my friends... my friends... that's it."

"I just sleep to relax my body, so instead of committing a sin, so I sleep."

"graft & corruptions"

"I understanding"

"As far as I know that you'd like me to tell you..."

Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet's big unsinkable boat sank when it collided with this huge chunk of ice floating in the sea. Apparently, the ironic tragedy of the sinking unsinkable boat was engineered by but an insignificant part of this even bigger chunk of ice. Deliciously enough, this makes for a curious movie reference on account of my ______ co-trainees' initial defect pales in comparison when they actually tried speaking in an American tongue. Recall that this was an American Accent Training to begin with, and the main purpose of the program was to neutralize the Filipino in our English to give way to an American accent. And yes, they were wonderfully consistent with the wrong grammar all throughout. Surprisingly, more of those abovementioned quips were encountered along the way. Just when you thought they couldn't be any worse than that, they never failed to exceed themselves.

Turns out that their erroneous grammar was but soil on top of the mudpie. See, knowing how to speak in English is independent of speaking it with an Accent. And this was an entirely different can of worms as shown by the following scenarios:

"Now, pronounce the word apple with a schwa [ae]"
(a schwa sound [ae] basically is the trick to making it sound american)
[ae]pel (no, it's not [ae]pEl, it should be [ae]pple)
affel (what happened to your P's?)
[ae]ffel (were talking about a fruit here, not a tower in France)
[ae]pples (oh dear)

"So what's your favorite kind of food?"
(we heard answers like Japanese, American, and one German, but this one took time)
I like Filifino... (one f please)
I like Pilipino... (this is an American accent course, say it like an American!)
Filipino... (there you go), I like Filipino pood

"How do you describe the color red to a blind person?"
I will pocus on...
(No, it's pronounced as fow-kis)
I will focus on... (again, it's fow-kis)
I will focused on... (something's wrong with your grammar, "I will fow-kis on...")
I will fow-kis on on my fersonal peelings

Stagnant is a word I haven't been using for a while now. And I kid you not when I'm telling you that I'm writing everything as they were spoken.

I asked these people why they attended this training course. Of course, the answer was obvious enough. They wanted to make it in the call center industry on the understanding that "learning" how to speak like an American would be a welcome benefit when they need to apply in any particular center. As a matter of fact, cross out "benefit" and change it to "asset" since they believed that they would have an edge after graduating from this week's worth of training. They were thinking that the certificate from this program would do them a lot of good. Not only would it look good on their resume, but it in a way makes them easy shoe-ins for any vacancy in this particular industry.

Well, that's stupid. See, learning how to speak English in a manner similar to those of Americans is different from being able to speak correct English. There's just no point in trying to speak with an accent when you're backing that up with absurd sentence constructions and infestations of grammatical flaws. Sure, Americans themselves are no different with the grammar, but then, you'll know what they are up front.

The thing is, why do you have to bother learning how to speak like an American when you can't even construct a sentence in fucking English? What damned good would that be? Why would you even bother buying yourself a goodlooking cue stick when you don't even know how to play pool? You can bop yourself silly on the head with that cue stick, but you'll gonna have to find some other ways to use it. Otherwise, it's just a pointless expense to begin with.

The idea that people just want to apply in call centers just proves to show that it indeed is a very established industry. Believe me, I'm talking out of personal experience. I've been there, and I was a happy witness to more than enough money than I deserve, a radical working environment for the chronically nocturnal, spiffs and incentives that'll make you forget about payday, and free coffee. I was even sent to a resort in Fontana to train, yes, to "train," and I got paid overtime to do that.

See, this particular industry does have a lot to offer. When you're in it, you basically have everything in your favor. It delivers a well-compensated position, unlimited avenues of learning, and a very charged working environment just to name a few.

However, as one unforgettable person used to say, this isn't a charitable institution. This is work, and they are simply justifying those benefits with a strict and arduous recruitment process. They need to make sure that they're hiring potential assets, manpower that has the talent and the skills to make the company perform good and look good at the same time. And like any organization bent on profit, they need to make sure that they're paying for their money's worth. Sadly enough, people who say things like "I understanding," "graft and corruptions," and "Filifino pood" just ain't their money's worth.

It's the sad truth. It's unfortunate, but this makes perfect sense. We all know that nobody would like to maintain liabilities in their organization. We buy pimple treatments because zits don't look good on us, and we'd prefer to eradicate them as soon as possible. At the same time, we make sure that our skin's clean enough to leave no space for such corruption.

But the thing is, it isn't for everybody. I really don't mean to break anybody's heart, but it isn't for everybody. Call me a cruel heartless bitch, but these _____ are basically "everybody."

I'm sorry if I had to be blunt.

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