Why does that Bing Lee guy have such a strong accent?

06 Jan

On another blog last year I read:

Ken Lee, right — the son of Bing Lee, founder of the Sydney electronics empire — he’s been in charge of the business for ages since the old man died…

Ken has been in Australia since 1948, and is now 75 years old.

So why is it, when you hear his voiceover on the Bing Lee commercials, instructing you to “come in and meet my team”, he sounds like he just got off the boat and is still struggling with Remedial English 101?

Well, the answer I suspect is as follows.

“…the large majority of adults retain their accent when the second language is acquired after puberty” — The Effect of Age on Acquisition of a Second Language for School by Virginia P. Collier.

“Ken Lee was born in Yantai in Shandong province, northern China – the eldest son of Bing and Sho Fan Lee. When his father left the family for business in Australia, Ken helped his mother provide for the family by trading in second-hand goods. They survived the horrors of the Japanese occupation of China and local famine, and in 1945 joined the flood of refugees leaving the devastated country. It took three more years to get to Hong Kong and on a ship for Sydney. Ken and his father were finally reunited in 1948. Ken was seventeen.” — Dynasties (ABC) on the Lee family.

QED, you might say.


Ken Lee passed away Friday 21 December 2007.

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Posted by on January 6, 2007 in Australian, diversity, English language, esl for teachers, multiculturalism


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