Accents and Tone

Have you ever met someone and knew immediately where they came from, just by listening to them speak?

Accents and tone [of voice] are often overlooked as powerful means of communication with their intonation, word pronunciations and their expressions.

There are now a multitude of accents in every language around the world. Actually, accents are a legacy of our history; they symbolize our roots, regional habits and our national identity is governed by them. It’s a real identity sign; they define who you are and where you come from.

The Accents of the English Language

There are a number of variant English accents. Obviously there is the native English accent to the United Kingdom (in all its forms, versions and regional accents). Irish people speak English also. Therefore there’s the Irish accent in the English language. Others include the North American accent, Scottish accent, Australian accent and so on.

For English natives, it’s easy to identify who is who and what region they come from. For foreigners however, it’s difficult for them to tell.

Accents throughout the world

Besides the geographical aspect, we have noted for several centuries that accents have been associated with social statuses. This concept is fading now, but has long been seen as a standard. The neutral accent, or having no accent at all, would have been aligned with important people in social hierarchy.

Regional accents have long handicapped poorer people seeking to find a job, for example. Today, the neutral accent is often used in politics or on television. Listen to BBC or SKY News for examples of these neutral accents. A lot of the presenters, while coming from a wide variety of national backgrounds, speak in a very similar tone or accent.

Judging by Accents

Accents can be quickly identified, but often divided into categories and described in social terms as ugly, beautiful, sexy, and so forth.

There is another definition of how you are described by your accent.

Have you ever spoken to someone on the phone only to see them differently when you meet them face to face?

An American study by Language and Psychology Departments at Stanford University, tested some 3,000 Americans while flirting. This study showed that the English accent seems to appeal most to men while women preferred an Irish accent.

In France, a study by the Parship dating website, shows that the southern accent, such as that from Toulouse city, is the most charming. However, the northern accent, illustrated by the French film Welcome to the land of Ch’tit, is just described as funny!

Generally, Facebook fan page users of the Lonely Planet Travel Guide chose, in order: the Spanish accent, French accent and Irish accent as the sexiest ones! (Study based on a concept for Valentine’s Day).

What’s your favorite accent? Let us know in the comments below.

If you want to say ‘I love you’ in other languages, try our ‘How to say I love‘ you page. There are lots of different audio samples for you to choose.