Think you don’t have an Accent? Think Again!

A recent poll in The Independent newspaper revealed that the British accent is the most popular in the world.

This is an odd piece of news. For a start, who is to say what, exactly a British accent is? There are many. There is Geordie, West Country, Scottish, Brummie, Northern Irish, Kentish, Cockney, Liverpudlian, Welsh, East Anglia, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Home Counties and many more besides…

Within the areas there are also differences in accent. A trip around Scotland, Yorkshire or Birmingham would expose a plethora of differing sounds in words.

Presumably the ‘British’ accent of the study is ‘BBC’ style, although even in an organisation as large as this there have been attempts in recent years to get regional accents on to the airwaves rather than the plummy tones of yesteryear.

While it is surprising to learn that the French accent is less of a draw, it is no real shock that the Queen’s English is admired around the world. Many years ago I undertook a road trip along the West of the USA with a friend-my first jaunt to America and one that I considered intrepid, given that I would be driving an automatic car on vast freeways and attempting to join the LA traffic and cliff-hangers of San Francisco.

Part of our home made itinerary took in a trip to Las Vegas, which involved travelling across the desert. We’d scheduled in stops, one of which was at Victorville, a kind of truck stop on Route 66. We’d found a hotel [on our budget we were confined to the cheaper chains], dumped the bags but at that point, although we’d driven all day in sweaty heat, a beer seemed more compelling than a shower.

We found a simple, no frills bar which was occupied mainly with workers, mainly male, enjoying a drink after their day’s labours. The arrival of two English women provoked enormous interest, so much that we were unable to buy our own beers and were interrogated on every aspect of our personas and our trip. This, incidentally included a query as to whether we met the age criterion for alcohol [most flattering, since I was 40 at the time]. The flattery continued. ‘Ah luuuurv yer aaahccent!’ one of the admirers drawled. This threw me. Having moved about the country quite a bit throughout childhood I consider myself accent-less. ‘I don’t have have an accent, you do!’ I replied.

Every country, of course has regional accents but you have to be well versed in another language to recognise them. After many years of regular trips to France I still struggle to understand the Southern French tones, and even here in my own homely island much that is spoken with a Scottish twang escapes me-notably post match inquests from football managers etc

I don’t really have a ‘favourite’ although I must confess to there being one or two I really do not like. What are they? Not saying! What’s your favourite?

6 thoughts on “Think you don’t have an Accent? Think Again!

  1. On the tube in London the other day, there was a huge poster with an advert for visiting Las Vegas. It said: Go and visit a place where your accent is an aphrodisiac!
    I just love accents, some just make me laugh like the Liverpudlian accent. Some are so charming like the Irish or the soft Scottish one. They all give people character.

  2. Scottish or Welsh of course – how lovely it is to hear the honeyed tones of that Welsh woman introducing a concert from Cardiff or Jamie MacDougal presenting a live concert from City Halls, Glasgow – compared with that woman who shall remain nameless on Breakfast television with the grating voice made infinitely worse by her….accent. But is it all in the mind’s ear? An Italian woman at work complained that people with Scottish accents should not be allowed to work in call centres! I find lilting Indian English closer to the musical Welsh and easier to understand than a Geordi. My mother’s friend had a husband with a broad Scottish accent which I found fascinating as a child and thought it would be good to marry a Scotsman – which I did, but after a while one doesn’t notice their accent or maybe i just don’t listen to him!

    • Yes-in past lives I’ve been somewhat mesmerised by accents-once a softly spoken Irishman, the son of a lighthouse-keeper, although he was less alluring as time went on! Perhaps it demonstrates the fickleness of voices!

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