When my children used to live at home and they heard me talking on the phone, they said they could tell immediately, even when they were little, whether the person at the other end of the line was of Sri Lankan origin or not, even though I was talking in English. They said they could tell from my choice of words and the inflections in my voice even though I was not aware of making any changes in my speech patterns.
This will not come as a surprise to anyone who belongs to a minority culture. Such people live in two worlds. Since we are well aware that the majority culture is the norm, we need to learn it so that we can navigate it. It is basically a survival skill. At the same time, we retain our own culture and revert to it when we can, so we end up using elements of the majority or minority culture depending on whom we are with. And we do this without even thinking, switching easily from one to another. There is nothing weird or sinister about it.
People in the majority culture, who use only one mode all the time, tend to be surprised by this whenever they stumble upon a situation where they happen to be in the minority and find the people whom they know who spoke in their circle in one way, now seem to be speaking differently.
This is why it is always amusing when political opponents of president Obama get so excited whenever they ‘discover’ a video of president Obama talking to black audiences, and make a fuss about the fact that he is ‘talking black’, as if that were some sort of code that he is a secret anti-white militant.
Get a grip, folks. All it shows is that you have no idea how minority cultures operate.
The Daily Show comments on the latest episode of this kind of faux outrage by Fox News.
(This clip appeared on October 3, 2012. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)