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7 February 2011
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Accent-uate the positive
Language and place

In Your Area
What do you think about your local accent?
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Did You Know?
Foreign Language Syndrome occurs when people with brain injuries lose the ability to talk in their native accent. After a stroke, George Reynolds developed an Italian accent.
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Celebrity voices
What do you think of your voice?
Attitudes towards accents
Languages other than English
Poll methodology

What do you think of your voice?

Our respondents are a dissatisfied bunch: 59% of them wish at least occasionally that they had a different accent. This rises to a massive two thirds in Northern Ireland. The most wished-for accent is a Standard English accent, but 7% said they would rather have a Southern Irish accent (12% in Northern Ireland).

People suggested that having another accent would sound more pleasant, and some claimed that it would help others understand them better. One person complained that "People outside Northern Ireland find me hard to understand," and another said, "I cannot believe how thick my Geordie accent is. It makes me very reluctant to speak at meetings."

However unpleasant people find their own voices, it seems there is always someone worse off. One person who took part in the poll described their accent as "Mancunian but not as bad as Oasis."

people voted 'an accent identical to your own' as one of their favourite accents

It's not all doom and gloom, as most people are proud of their own accents. One contributor described their voice as "nice and Welshy" and another said that they had been complimented on their lovely Newcastle accent.

Throughout the country, people voted "an accent identical to your own" as one of their favourite accents, and in most places, voters considered their own accent to be prestigious or helpful for getting a job.

95% of people in Northern Ireland, 79% in Wales and 87% in Scotland think of themselves as having at least a moderately strong accent. Only 63% in the east of England and 64% in the south think their accent is moderately strong. Generally people in the north and west of the UK identify with "having an accent" more than those in the south-east.

More than 4 in 5 admit to changing their accent on occasions, particularly when meeting people for the first time or when talking to more senior work colleagues. Intoxication was also implicated: "I have a Yorkshire accent which becomes more obvious when I drink alcohol (I'm afraid to say)," commented one unnamed respondent.

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