Saturday, April 7, 2012

india call centre outsourcing. a "neutral accent"

Suhil’s forehead is creased, his brows pulled tight with anxiety. He straightens his shoulders, inhales deeply.

“Fee vaiwer,” he says.

Watching his mouth closely, Bikram Singh gently shakes his head. “Again.”

“Fee vaiwer,” Suhil repeats. “Fee vaiwer.”

Mr. Singh gives a tiny sigh at Suhil’s pronunciation of “fee waiver.”

“We’ll come back to this,” he says. The vee-double-you mash-up is one of the hardest English sounds for north Indians to get right, since there is no V in their native Hindi.
It’s consonant class at a large outsource operation in the new business city on the edge of the Indian capital. Mr. Singh faces a room full of clever young lawyers, who have landed well-paid (for here) and comfortable jobs providing legal services for a major U.S. financial services firm, with a head office in the Midwest. But if they are to advance in this industry, they must be able to make themselves understood: conquer the consonants, master the idioms and much more besides...

India’s information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) sector is booming, continuing to reap the benefits of the need to cut costs in anemic economies in the West. The category includes everything from the traditional IT call centre that helps fix your printer to “knowledge process outsourcing” (KPO) for engineering services, to financial analysts; new sectors such as media, insurance and health management have shifted business processes to India in the past few years, lured by the vast, relatively low-waged, English-speaking talent pool...

In her current job, she aims to help her students develop a “global” accent, while other training companies try to teach a more specifically American sound. Mr. Singh teaches his students how to pronounce American-style using PowerPoints of tongues hitting palates; low-end training centres make their students watch hours and hours of episodes of Friends.


D - actually, a slightly modified Canadian style of English is considered to be this elusive "neutral accent".

Neutral accent is one which avoids mother/native tongue influences, regional dialects, slang terms, peculiar intonations, etc. What we fail to understand is that there is a common module, text book, exercises and lessons with which English and Grammar are taught to us. The exercises and lessons are universal and they could be taught universally. The argument that neutral accent per se does not exist is an observation that stems from the localization of oneself.

Neutral English: This is not to imply that neutral pronunciation has greater merit than any of the regional dialects. It is also a dialect, but one without any regionalisms. It is, however, the dialect that is used by trained speakers and performers for public usage. The way we speak English regionally is part of our personal identity. It is something that should be used and mentioned in our everyday speech. However, when we are speaking or performing in a public forum, neutral English should be used, so as to erase regional barriers and communicate effectively with the most people. - Kathryn LaBouff

A neutral accent is important, as you would be interacting with a global customer base. A heavy regional accent may hinder comprehension.

A neutral accent is safe; you can't offend anyone with it. ... What is popularly known in current parlance as 'neutral accent', a diction devoid of mother tongue influence is a primary requirement.

IBM teaches English skills in India: The focus of the software is on building English speaking skills in a neutral accent that will be universally understood, Verma said.


D - aside: CVN (my auxiliary world language project) could allow for either V or W to be used to avoid this. I was considering this already.

1 comment:

Jeny said...

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Contact Centre Outsourcing