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Ok, let me pull the quote and be more direct about my reaction.

"One quality that's a really bad indication is a CEO with a strong foreign accent. I'm not sure why. It could be that there are a bunch of subtle things entrepreneurs have to communicate and can't if you have a strong accent. Or, it could be that anyone with half a brain would realize you're going to be more successful if you speak idiomatic English, so they must just be clueless if they haven't gotten rid of their strong accent. I just know it's a strong pattern we've seen."

As I read it, unfortunately, there's nothing in this published interview that says a foreign-accented person failed to communicate or needed to repeat themselves to be understood.

It just says a "strong" foreign accent, with not clear definition of the subjective meaning of "strong".

Then, it goes astray, saying "subtle cues" could be what leads the person to business failure; presumably subtle cues that would be obvious to a native speaker. Further, not being idiomatic (i.e. not a native speaker). Thus, the conclusion is the deficiency is the foreignness, not a functional problem like elocution.

So, then I think it's pretty cutting to say people are "clueless if they haven't gotten rid of their strong accent" (emphasis mine). Since the strong accent is the foreignness, this read to me as saying Americanize which means change your identity.

I contend this is not the best way to make the point. Also, the wrong track since as we have discussed above to death the real problem is the elocution, leadership and business skills, not the foreignness per se.

However, do you think I read the interview (as published) incorrectly? I'm thinking about a cold reader, like a 21-year old woman in Tennessee who moved here with her parents when she was 12 from Sri Lanka thinking of the next big thing.




If I ever had to live and work in a foreign country, I'd be proud to speak their language so fluently they couldn't quite detect an accent. It would be a little different moving to another English-speaking country, but lots of people end up picking up a slightly different accent after living someplace for a long time. It doesn't have to be a matter of identity unless you choose to make it one.


As an Australian that has tried both, it was a lot easier to sound English than it is for me to sound French. I can almost pull off a decent English accent these days - enough so that I'm not identified as Australian in a short conversation. In French, after 10 years of living in the country, my accent is picked after oh, around about one syllable I think. Maybe two syllables... And yet I'm perfectly fluent, and can write better idiomatic French than a good percentage of the French population. Accents are hard if you don't have the ear for them.


Until you move to a foreign country and speak with their language so fluently that they can't detect your accent. You need to come back to reality. If it was so easy, everyone would be doing it.


Sure, it's not easy and you'd probably have a recognizable accent unless you worked hard at it. But speaking e.g. French in a thick American accent is a stupid thing to incorporate into your self-identity, just like speaking English in a thick French accent.




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