I have a feeling this post is going to stir some rather strong reactions from both domestic (US) readers as well as those from other parts of the world and that is OK. Everyone has their own perspective when it comes to language and in some ways even more so when it comes to accents.
There were a number of things that got me started on today’s post. First off, as a frequent flyer and frequent floater, I love hearing different languages. My ear has, during COVID, really missed the normalcy of hearing communication from many lands. On a personal level I recently got to hear over Zoom some English speakers from England, Uganda, Kenya and Sri Lanka. It was really fun to get a taste of what I had been missing.
But there are accents I “like” to hear in English and ones I don’t care for as much. Yahoo recently put out a post about “The most annoying accent in the world revealed” and part of their methodology was how long folks would listen to the speaker before they turned it off. I like that test as there are times I “tune out” mentally a speaker if I don’t care for the accent.
Clearly there are also accents within a country. A few years back the Dailymail posted about what are the most liked or hated US accents (the US is, after all, really big). I have lived all over the US but spent most of my life in the Midwest and feel like “we” kinda have the most generic US accent – but that may be from my perspective because I live here. I am not a real fan of a southern US accent but on the other hand I like a southern Swedish accent (while most Swedes don’t care for southern Swedish). Let me demonstrate:
I have recorded an MP3 of myself speaking you can listen to below. In it I make a (bad) attempt to fake what I think a southern Swedish accent sounds like and say the following:
If I were to say this in (on) Swedish it would (should) sound like this.
“Om jag skulle säga detta på svenska borde det låta så här.”
I put some words in brackets above because you would not say in Swedish “in” Swedish but “on” Swedish. With languages there are so many rules and oddities. I am very fluent in Swedish but even when I have been there for many months folks say my tone or pitch is off even though I do not sound like I am from America (see this video for an example of what they are talking about). I have to say it does bother me a little bit.
Having spent most of my life growing up on the west coast of Sweden I have picked up in my vocabulary a number of words that are unique to that part of the country (see in Swedish – 33 words that only genuine Gothenburgers understand). I have always been told growing up that those from Stockholm look at Gothenburg as not quite as “fine” as their east coast neighbors – whatever that means.
I hope this rather long and considerate opening will mean less flaming when it comes to comments about what I think are “annoying” accents that is those from outside the US speaking English with their home country accent. Again, this is personal, but you can feel free to comment what you do or don’t like. My list of favorites are:
- South Africa
Ones I really don’t care for very much are:
Ones I am ambivalent about are:
Those with an accent from each of these countries are to those who travel quickly identifiable. With all of these so much of my feelings on each of these accents is shaped by my ear and my travels. I am sure there are other psychological bits that also have shaped my preferences on each one and why I love or dislike listening to each one.
Now understand I am approaching this from a US perspective, that is, how others sound when speaking English. I get that we could spend hours considering this from the other side, that is, how, for example, a thick, ugly, US English accent sounds like when you attempt to speak say French or Swedish (shudder – yea it’s not fun to listen to). But that is not what this post is about after all. 😉
So now it is your turn. Is there an accent you love to hear a speaker use when speaking English? Do accents bother you or not? Are there US accents that simply rub you the wrong way and make you want to tune them out? Let us know! – René
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