What does your accent say about you?

All accents can provoke prejudice, according to a language expert

 

Rose Troup Buchanan
Thursday 29 October 2015 14:30
Comments
The 'Queens English' has fallen out of favour in recent years
The 'Queens English' has fallen out of favour in recent years

No single British accent fails to provoke a measure of prejudice, a language expert has claimed.

So, what does your accent say about you?

Robert Cauldwell, who teaches English as a foreign language and who has spoken on the the effects of regional accents, claims while there have been huge shifts in the perception of accents in recent years, some stereotypes do remain.

“People from Birmingham are uneducated, thick, louts. That would be one that I come across most often,” he said. Bad luck if you are from Birmingham.

But, should you hail from either Northern Ireland or Edinburgh, you may be in luck. “Educated Scottish English and educated Irish English are always an attractive accent, people find.”

“There is no prejudice neutral accent,” he told The Independent. “There is no accent that is immune from prejudice – but prejudice jumps both ways, so can be positive and negative.”

He also cautioned there was no “best” accent. “It depends on the social group that you want to impress or work with.”

And, Mr Cauldwell added peoples reaction to accent said more about them than the accent itself. “Every accent excites prejudices… they lie with the hearers.”

A 2014 YouGov survey polled 2000 applicants and found the most attractive accent was from Southern Ireland, closely followed by the Queen’s English accent, with the Brummie and Scouse accents polling at the bottom.

Mr Cauldwell told there had been a “shift” in recent years away from the “precious or what was known as Received Pronunciation [RP]” accents.

“Previously those accents were thought of as highly educated and trustworthy,” he said. “But, the perception of toffs and of, say, the Bullingdon Club, means those accents can now be seen [as] having privileges they don’t deserve.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in