New meme puts spotlight on the Philippines’ accent-shaming problem

Memes are (usually) shared in good fun, but they can also get insulting and downright discriminatory, just as it did for the “You’re road” trend that has seemingly taken over Philippine social media in the past week.

For those who haven’t seen it, people have been sharing a photo of a woman with subtitles that read “You’re road,” an intentional misspelling of “you’re rude.” The phrase has also been referenced in “punny” tweets and recreated in video skits.

Confused? Here’s why some people think it’s funny.

The screencap of the woman comes from an episode of the American reality show 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days. 

In the scene below, Filipino Jenny, along with her entire family, surprise her American boyfriend Larry with the Filipino delicacy lechon (suckling pig).

Lechon is a dish reserved for special occasions, so Jenny expected Larry to appreciate the gesture.

Instead, he basically snubs the pig (Wrong move, buddy) and only eats a small bite. Towards the end of the clip, Jenny gets angry, walks out, and tells Larry: “You’re rude, you know?”

Jenny is from Urdaneta, Pangasinan, where the Filipino language Ilocano is spoken. Because of her accent, the word “rude” ended up sounding more like “road.”

While mispronouncing English words is common and largely ignored in most Asian and European countries, it is often turned into a joke in the Philippines.

Filipinos have been praised for their English-language skills, which make it easier for tourists to travel around the country, but not everyone has the same level of fluency, and this has led to an unspoken societal hierarchy.

Those who have neutral accents (read: Americanized) are seen as smart and from the upper class, while those who have bad grammar or have a strong regional accent are perceived as provincial and uneducated.

This is a stereotype other netizens pointed out.

Facebook user Mark Angeles pointed out the double standard and said: “Why do we make fun of Jenny’s pronunciation, without considering that her American fiancé did not even bother to learn how to speak proper Ilocano or Filipino before he left his country?”

Twitter user @Sii_J0S_EEP_H_ called on people to stop sharing the meme and instead, support fellow Filipinos.

@skenndalous suggested that people should just stop making fun of Jenny and provide constructive criticism instead.

@ElliceCenteno questioned why this kind of discrimination is still present in 2018 and asked: “Are people not allowed to make mistakes?”

Accent-shaming is so common, some people choose not to speak English in fear of being made fun of. Those who do speak English are also sometimes teased for doing so and are labeled as mayabang (show-offs) or eletista (elitists).

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, right?

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