You may not think you have an accent – but you do. And the accent you probably notice the least is the one Hannah Shin craved as her ticket to completing her American identity.
A person’s voice is the first glimpse into their history. In diverse California - the state with the highest number of immigrants - the range of accents is broad.
But there was only one accent I wanted -- the Californian.
I’ve lived in America since kindergarten, and I thought I would acquire a perfect Californian accent. Which is to say, the mainstream, “official” American accent. It’s the popular dialect of Hollywood, and one of the smoothest accents I’ve ever heard - so unlike my Korean language, characterized by sharp syllables and brisk pronunciation.
Most probably don’t see speaking with a local accent as anything special. Yet, to me, it was that golden dream of becoming American. All my dreams of living here wrapped in a neat package of simply mastering an accent. With so many different definitions for being American, I had chosen the simplest, and often unobserved, notion -- my way of speaking.