Accent Anecdotal Part Two

I recently read that a survey of 12000 people around the world has voted the British accent the worlds sexiest. Initially I was amused but I’m calling bullshit on this survey, firstly because there is no such thing as a British accent (us Brits have hundreds of accents) and secondly anyone with ears knows that the Irish accent is the sexiest on earth. If you are a Brit hoping to go abroad and have some luck because of your accent remember that many people wouldn’t recognise a British accent if it walked up to them and asked them for a pot of Earl Grey. I’d also like to know which British accent people find so sexy because I’m fairly sure it isn’t mine. Is it Sean Connery’s? The voice of the announcer on the London Underground? It certainly can’t be Scouse!

For some reason the British accent is meant to be attactive
For some reason the British accent is meant to be attractive

I don’t care whether my accent is considered sexy or not (I’m married after all) but I would like it to be actually identifiable as British. Whilst in the US I have been asked if I’m from Australia, Ireland, South Africa and even on one particularly memorable occasion, France! I find these moments more amusing than irritating; it’s the occasions when people can’t understand me at all that I find frustrating. I’ve been sat chatting to an American having a conversation and when the waitress came to take our orders she couldn’t understand a word I said. It’s really strange that some people will understand everything I say while other times I have to use my wife as a translator. In case you are assuming that I mumble a lot a recent thread on the Boston Brits Facebook page showed that a lot of other Brits have the same issue with not being understood over here too.

So where do I go from here? Do I adopt the kind of accent that Americans will be familiar with from shows like Downton Abbey so they understand me better? Do I speak really, really slowly to give people a better chance or do I adopt an atrocious fake American accent? Although my wife (and others) have told me that my fake US accent is an affront to the ears and asked me to please stop it’s perhaps telling that my US Android phone understands me better when I issue voice commands using it! Whichever method I adopt is probably still sexier than not being understood right?

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28 thoughts on “Accent Anecdotal Part Two

  1. My wife and I watch a lot of British television (because they still write shows there it seems) & totally understand that there is no one British accent. Even in London there are different accents depending on area, class, etc… Include the rest of England and there are hundreds. Include all of Great Britain…well I don’t need to go on. I do a bad fakey upper crust London accent, my wife’s fake accent is more Cockney. Sometimes I slip into bad Welsh by mistake. We’d be beaten within an inch of our lives if we tried them in Britain.

    1. My fake London accent is pretty bad too but probably better than my wife’s fake British accent. The only fake US accent I can do with any decency is a deep south one, which is hugely irrelevant to where I live!

  2. You want to try being Scottish in the Mid-West!! :-/
    We get Irish/German/Australian all the time…. but funnily enough never English (probably because of all the British TV shows they can recognise I don’t have an English accent)
    It’s even worse when you spell the word out for them because no matter how I try to say it Americans hear my A’s as an E!!!
    On the plus side my miming is coming along well….

  3. I would imagine it’s the generic plummy Home Counties accent they like which as we both know that few people have.

    Whilst in the US I have been asked if I’m from Australia, Ireland, South Africa and even on one particularly memorable occasion, France!

    The Devon accent even confuses a fellow West Country lad like me too sometimes 😛

  4. I’m German, and we learn British English (grammar & pronounciation) in school. Today, however, a lot of people want to have an American accent even though as soon as they open their you hear straight away they’re not a native speaker. In the US people thought I was British, and funnily in the UK I’ve been labelled as “from the South (of England)”, from South Africa, and even from Wales…

    As for REAL Brits, I think the most discerning thing that makes you sound British is the pronounciation of the R – a British R immediately sounds classy 🙂

    1. Its funny that people would think a German person British and don’t realise that I am! Funnily enough I apparently speak French with a German accent which causes confusion when I’m in France.

      I agree with you on the “r” thing. We also have some particular things we say like “bloody hell” that make us immediately stand out! 🙂

  5. I go to a university with a lot of international students and despite the fact that I speak with a Received Pronunciation accent (I moved a lot as a child and BBC Radio 4 was what I listened to (thanks, Mum)) a lot of people ask me if I’m Russian. I have no idea why!

    1. Haha that’s really strange! I’ve been mulling the idea of adapting a Received Pronunciation accent for easy identification but now you’ve made me doubt if that works too! 🙂

      1. RP is very useful for being understood, less useful when people point out that you sound like the Queen! I’m not sure why people would assume I’m Russian, seeing as my name isn’t remotely Russian sounding either. I’m terrible with accents too, though – one of my flatmates is from Boston and he has to repeat things all the time! Although that might just be his use of slang!

  6. The fiancé is a Geordie. I feel terrible when people just stare and nod at him. But then weirdly there are random moments when people can understand him completely.

  7. I once spent a couple of hours in a semi-dodgy Chicago bar, with my cousin who is from those parts. Now I’m Welsh, but with a real mixed up British accent; bit Brummie, bit London, bit Home Counties, bit Cornish, bit Northern…comes from moving around! Anyway, I spent the evening teaching two big brutal looking Chicagoans to speak like Harry Enfield with his pseudo Upper Class, “How d’you do, don’t you know, don’t you know…” I was in hysterics, but they kept being me beer! Happy days!

  8. I’ve been asked many times in the US to ‘just say something’ so people can admire my accent. When they can’t understand me, they assure me not to worry as I’m speaking ‘The Queen’s English’ – I have a Lancashire accent. My American sweetheart can’t distinguish regional accents at all after living in England several months a year for the past five years, although he thinks Welsh people sound like Germans(?)

    1. The “say something” thing always gets me. I never know what to say when put on the spot as I feel like a performing seal! I’ve not heard the Welsh accent described as sounding German before, it sometimes sounds Indian to me! 🙂

  9. Being from Australia, I love other peoples accents but hate my own! But, fair warning, never mistake us for New Zealanders!
    I have to agree that Colin Firth is the quintessential sexy accent, but I also equally enjoy those if Ewan McGreggor, Colin Farrell, Gerard Butler and of course Sean Connery.
    In high school I had a Welsh maths teacher, and although I can’t say that we though him sexy, his accent definitely was!
    The only ones I have trouble with are the reality shows Geordie Shore and The Only Way is Essex (not that I watch them) the few times I’ve caught a glimpse of these shows I can never understand a single word they say

    1. I love an Aussie accent although I must admit I’m not great at telling it apart from a New Zealand one! I’ve not heard the Welsh accent described as sexy before but some of them sound pretty good. Almost musical. I think the issue with the reality shows is that those people (actors?) are probably too dumb to realise what they are saying in the first place!

  10. You see, you keep insisting that you don’t have a Devonshire accent but the evidence is mounting. “Where that to” must confuse the hell out of people in the states. I remember when I was in Brazil I had to put on a fake American accent because the English teachers were all American and so the Brazilians weren’t used to our plummy tones.

    I mean sure, I could have made more of an effort to speak Portuguese….

      1. I started young. Working in SEAsia helps with racking them up as well.

        I’d love to be with a Cornishman travelling across the Deep South. They would actually think he was a pirate. It would be brilliant.

        Cheers mate.

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