Thursday, April 3, 2008

Does my hybrid accent make me sound smarter though?

I've posted about my strange hybrid accent before, but didn't really touch on how it might affect other people's perception of my intelligence.

The topic has come up before. I once told my (Scottish) PhD supervisor that if my plan to move to Vancouver didn't work out, I would probably go back to England because life's just so much easier when your accent matches*. He (not very reassuringly) replied, "I think you'll do well anywhere, despite your accent". (Note: this conversation took place in a pub and was not meant to be taken overly seriously).

But he can eat his words now, because the BBC is reporting on a study that found a Yorkshire accent (the strongest component of my hybrid effort) to be rated the highest in a test of perceived intelligence. Even more so than the Queen's English (standard old fashioned BBC-type accent).

Ha! Take that, Scottish PIs and English Queens.

Pity the poor old Brummies though. They were rated the lowest, apparently sounding less intelligent than if they'd just stayed silent.

To paraphrase from The Simpsons:

Lisa: "Sometimes it is better to stay silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt".

Homer: "...........Takes one to know one".

*There's a strong anti-English sentiment in parts of Scotland, and there were some situations in which I kept my mouth shut to avoid drawing attention to myself.


  1. I like Emma Thompson's accent. She sounds smart. Do you sound like her? :D

  2. I can never get the people to explain to me what my accent makes me sound like. Hubby says I have a sexy accent, but he is clearly biased :D I was taught British English before I came to the U.S., but I don't think I have any of that "smart" accent you brag about :P

  3. I started out as handicapped, as anyone who speaks italian for 24 years and all of a suddent is told "OK, enough of tis, it's English now !".
    Worked on my accent for 21 years and I managed to fool myself into thinking that I sounded almost "normal". Recently, my wife accidentally erased the greeting message on our answering machine and asked me to record a new one. When I heard my voice I almost wanted to puke. Nice thing about AMerica is, no matter how one speaks one can always act as though his/her accent was the right one :-)

  4. Oh yeah because life is totally easy in England with a Scottish accent and Canadian 'twang'. I don't understand half of what some people say to me around here. I'm getting to the stage where I'm going to eliminate all traces of any accents from my voice - the so-called 'academic english'. I liked your accent though.
    And the money is different too - one guy congratulated me on giving him the exact change this morning. Clearly I had been struggling the past couple of days. When that happens, I play up the Canadian!

  5. EcoGeoFemme - 'fraid not! She's more Southern and posh than me. I'm a Northern lass, me.

    ScienceGirl - biased hubbies are the best!

    Okham - I hate the sound of my own voice too. It just sounds so different to how I expect! Don't be too hard on yourself though, an accent is part of who you are. I only know one person who has English as a second language who has no trace of her original accent (French), and she's a languages teacher who learned English when she was 8!

    PropterDoc - nooo, don't lose your Scottish accent! It'll get easier. I didn't understand anything anyone said to me in Glasgow for at least a couple of weeks. I really hope you don't get any problems from any ignorant English people.

  6. Having just been talking to the folks in the office here, I don't think I have any accent at all. One thought I was Canadian, one thought I was Scottish and the other thought I was English. I'm aiming for the perfect acentless acent

  7. You definitely sounded Scottish to me! Strange how perceptions can vary!


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