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Recognising Accents

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Nedlamar, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. Nedlamar

    Nedlamar MajorGeek

    Inspired by another thread.

    Being an Englishman and living in Canada has really opened my eyes to the lack of recognision of where someone is from.

    Now I have a fairly non discript English accent, mostly a Norfolk pronunciation but very little accent. Clearly English IMO.

    When I meet new people here only about 25% of them guess I'm from England, now it' actually surprises me when they get it right lol
    The majority of people think I'm Australian, I have kind of figured out why since to a North American the English and Aussie accents are smilar. On the other hand I've also been toutaed as a German and Italian and most oddly of all....an American.

    Funny thing is this is an easily flippable subject, many people from Britain cannot tell the difference between an American and Canadian accent, I couldn't for a while.

    So just wondering if anyone here is aware they can tell where someone is from by their accent when speaking English.

    I'm quite sure many people from North America would be surprised by the amount of Aussie actors playing Englishmen and flipside many British people being surprised by the sheer number of very well known Canadian actors that we all think are American.
  2. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member


    yeah I know what you mean Ned, it was why I mentioned Gordie in the other thread as I worked with a girl from Newcastle, who many in Liverpool thought she was from Scandinavia! My accent is not a Liverpool one, most have no clue, its more a mix of the proper Liverpool (not that crackly put on accent most have aquired these days, thats not scouse, if memory serves it was a mix of Lancashire and Irish, with some Norsk etc chucked in for good measure) and Lancashire accents, sort of as someone here coined "posh scouse",

    I can tell alot of languages quite well, working in a hospital I get to meet folk from all around the world, from New Zealand to Canada (Bottom and top).
  3. LauraR

    LauraR MajorGeeks Super-Duper Administrator Staff Member

    I have to say, I have a very hard time telling the difference between and English accent and an Australian one unless they are very pronounced.

    The funniest thing was when I was in London about 4 years ago. Two girlfriends and I were out at a night club. We were talking to these men and the one guy asked me if I was Australian.rolleyes :-D If you heard me, you would know I was not Australian. The only thing I can blame it on was the fact that the place was fairly loud. The other funny thing when we were there was how hard it was not only for us to decipher what the people in London were saying to us, but the fact that they didn't know what we were saying half the time. How can that happen when you are all speaking English??

    Now American accents are easier to figure out if you live here. I live in Northeast. People can generally tell I'm from the Philadelphia area. Or they guess New Jersey.:cry

    I can tell a lot of times if a southern accent is from Georgia, Alabama, etc (or in that area) or if it's from over in Texas, Okahoma, etc. You can also generally tell a midwest accent. It's harder to determine a specific state since it's more an area thing.

    I am not sure I could tell a Canadian accent. I knew one Canadian very well, and she didn't have an accent as far as I could tell.

    Oh, and forget Irish and Scottish. They sound one and the same to me.
  4. joey off the street

    joey off the street Lounge Lizard No.1

    Nofolk, eh? Guessed that from the fact that you support Norwich LOL You got my sympathies, bud.

    Accents in the UK are easily distinguishable, more so I think than Americans, I think. I mean, Scousers and Brummies, Geordies and Cockneys, easy. New Yorkers and Californians sound alike to me. Or is it TV and film that do that?
    Confuses the shit out of me :confused
    Aussies are a doddle.
  5. LauraR

    LauraR MajorGeeks Super-Duper Administrator Staff Member

    I'm guessing it's all about where you live. English accents really sound alike to me unless it's 'cockney' (is that the term), and that's only because I saw My Fair Lady. LOL

    New York accents are one of the most distinct in the US. Actually, that's not true. Probably a New England accent is the most distinct. If you are from the US, you can generally tell.
  6. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    Some of the time accents can become hard to distinguish when say you move location for a number of years and you pick up some of the other areas accent, you gain a mix, that can be hard to tell where someone is from.
  7. brandypeppy

    brandypeppy MajorGeek

    My mother was from Belgium and I remember as a kid when I had friends over, and yes back then I did have friends, they never could understand what she was saying, and she spoke extremely good English, but with an accent of course.

    Anyway, I have no problem with any European speaking English with an accent, it's almost a "native" tongue to me.

    But put me in the South, esp. W. Virginny or Georgia, and it's like going to a foreign country to me! I used to have some very good customers in Georgia, and those people all insist on the small talk routine. I'd just sit there smiling and nodding, probably when they were asking about the wife and kids. Then they'd look at me like I had a screw loose of something. And I absolutely dreaded talking to them on the phone! That was next to impossible.

    But Canadians are easy, it's all about the "eh". Aussies are easy too, it's all about the "barby". And English are easy, just don't eat their food, (I was once served kidneys, of all the disgusting things).

    Scots are impossible to me, but I love their Scotch!

    And the Irish are usually too drunk to talk anyway.:-D:-D:-D
  8. silas

    silas MajorGeek

    Iam an american and speak english but many times my typing sounds like a kid or that I am dumb.
  9. dyamond

    dyamond Imelda Marcos of Majorgeeks

    First of all let me just say I love accents! Indian, Irish, British, Australian, etc.. I love them! :drool I wish I had one but I don't although some people say I do :confused

    I can usually differentiate different accents but sometimes it's a little harder depending on how close they sound to another one. I have a lot of friends from different nations who have heavy accents and they all have the same problem.. they MUMBLE! So, half my conversations consist of me saying "what?" "huh?" & "say that again" and because they think that it's because I can't hear them, so they just mumble much louder! :-D Then I have to tell them, "I can hear you but I can't understand what you are saying.. you need to enunciate!" :-D
  10. Mimsy

    Mimsy Superior Imperial Queen of the MG Games Forum

    I know what you're talking about... I'm Swedish, so I do have that accent, along with the fact that we were learning British pronunciation in school when they taught us English. Since I work in a call center, I talk to lots of people every day, and a lot of them ask about my accent or try to guess it. The vast majority think I'm German. LOL

    Every once in a while someone thinks I am English or Canadian, some think I'm Australian, and someone once swore to me my accent was from India! :-D

    I think it's what people are used to listening to and what they hear growing up. My dad worked with a lot of non-Swedes and exchange students on the local university campus, so I heard lots of accents growing up. I can't distinguish between the various English regions, but I can tell Scots from Irish, not to mention Brits from Aussies, and Germans from the rest. :p
  11. iwunderdownunder

    iwunderdownunder First Sergeant

    i have to say it depends on what your use to hearing here in oz its quite easy to tell some one form different parts of the world.Like the English have a very distinctive accent compared to an Aussie,same goes for the Americans clearly different in the way the words are pronounced and sound.We here in N.S.W have a American/Australian premier and can clearly here her accent.
    If you have a keen ear you can even tell someone from the west coast of oz to someone form the east coast.sometimes i can even pick a banana bender " Queenslander" from a crowd.
  12. Phantom

    Phantom Brigadier Britches

    Yep, that's basically what has happened to me. Many pick it as English, which figures, since I was born there and spent my childhood there. Some swear I'm an Aussie, (okay, I have spent a long time here). Others think I'm American, which I guess figures, since I spent a fair chunk of my early life in Calif. Others pick up my inflections/expressions from Sweden, Rhodesia, (Zimbabwe), Where I've also lived. Some just get confused, LOL.

    To me, I just sound basically English, with some international influences. I do occasionally get people staring intently at me when I'm talking, and I ask them what's up. Then they usually say something like "I'm just trying to figure out where your accent is from". I can then either tell them the long version, or just say I'm English and have done with it. :-D

    Picking accents is not too hard if you're from that neck of the woods, but others often just have some kind of stereotype they think sounds like something or other. Whatever floats your boat, I suppose, as long as I'm understood, I'm happy.;)
  13. sibeer

    sibeer MajorGeek

    The basic Canadian accent is a lot like North American TV accent, with the exception of a few words. Then there's the Newfies, and, those guys from Quebec, now thats an accent. It sounds like there speaking another language.:-D:-D

    I think the TV accent is changing the way people talk. A couple of years ago I was watching "The Simple Life" (Paris and Nicole). Now don't ask why I was watching it but I was. They stayed at a house in Georgia with a family...Grandma, Grampa, Mom, Dad and kids. The seniors were tough to understand, Mom and Dad were better, but the kids almost had the TV accent. Exposure to media.
  14. BILLMCC66

    BILLMCC66 Bionic Belgian

    I live just 30 miles from England and speak dutch, most people hear my accent and guess i am English but on several occasions i have been told my accent is German.

    Here in Belgium you can go 10 miles in any direction and the accent is distinctly different and as long as it is spoken clearly i can understand but if you go to Antwerp even my wife who was born in Brugge has trouble as for me i just speak English there as most Belgians have an understanding of the language.

    I have to admit i can not distinguish between Canadian and American English.
  15. Burrell

    Burrell MajorGeek

    I think I may have a different accent for you here!

    I was born in Scotland, but moved Down here to manchester when I was just 10 years of age. I got a bit of stick at school for my accent, so very quickly I picked up the local Tongue to be normal and speakthe same as everyone else.

    But still, even now I can switch to the broad scots and back to the manc as quick as I like!

    The funny thing is, I will be talking to someone now, in a completely manc accent, them not having a clue that I am actually scots, then I will come out with a word that is extremely Scottish, and I literally cannot pronounce the English way!

    If I talk to a scot, I sound Scottish, to a manc, I sound as local as they do! I think the name for it is an "accent magpie".

    PS - sorry if my grammar is bad, I am using my iPhone which is hard to type on!!!
  16. Nedlamar

    Nedlamar MajorGeek

    lol So my thinking was right, we got people from the US can understand the US but not Britain or Aussie, people from Aus who can't tell the US etc etc.

    Now accent changes in the UK vary, people often say "Cockney" as Laura mentioned, to be Cockney and true cockney you must be born within the sound of Bow Bells, otherwise you're just a Londoner and London has many different accents but movies and TV as Joey pointed out show us very limited accents, same for UK'ers with Americans. Living here I've heard a lot more different US/Canadian accents that are very different, Florida accent for example is fairly easily distiguishable from Georgia, Nefoundland is very different to Vancouver and same is England, I can drive 5-10 miles (depending where I am) and hear a disticnt accent change.

    What amuses me is working out how accents came about, if you look at Britain, you have Queens English which is a central accent for the most part, the further south you go the accent falls into an almost Old English farmer style, head north and get to Yorkshire, Manchester etc and it's almost a mix of English and Scottish, head over to Liverpool and you can hear Welsh influence.

    @Mimsy... Sweedish to Indian? some people eh, I know exactly where you comming from lol
  17. darlene1029

    darlene1029 A Grand Lady- R.I.P. 06/06/2012

    May I add South Africa to the confusion ? LOL
  18. Nedlamar

    Nedlamar MajorGeek

    lol Funny you should say that, I've been mistaken for SA before, which is weird since they are clearly a different accent, more Dutch twang to it......but yeah, thanks Darlene :-D
  19. Mada_Milty

    Mada_Milty MajorGeek

    *trows a skattle eet choo*
  20. dyamond

    dyamond Imelda Marcos of Majorgeeks

    Yes, I'm aware of your accent :p (it's been a while since you've thrown a skittle at me on here, hasn't it? LOL)
  21. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    Dunno SA accents are an easy one for me, met a few at MSFT over the years, and easy to spot, but then again as said before its kinda what you personally are used to and can pick up, guess we all pick up different things.
  22. TimW

    TimW MajorGeeks Administrator - Jedi Malware Expert Staff Member

    I like the members that type with an accent!!! LOL
  23. Francie Mc

    Francie Mc Private E-2

    Hi , I'm a new member , but you wo'nt detect an accent from me . I come from a race that does not have an accent , we have a brogue . Yes , you're right. I'm from the North of an Emerald Isle. In the place that I hail from is called Spadetown. We have some funny sayings and spellings , that only people from these parts would find it easy to understand.
    IE= What about ye?
    Look forward to testing you all with a few curvedballs ( conversations )
  24. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    Hi and Welcome

    Curious as Emerald Isle is normally referrred to as Ireland and could be NI or ROI (and north would be NI and Belfast is a place I know well), but your location is UK in Chiltern Valley as in iirc in near Henley-on-Thames UK?

    Spadetown is where? possibly Lurgan?

    Only curious as to this curveball :)
  25. Caliban

    Caliban I don't need no steenkin' title!

    We eat grits - 'nuff said...
  26. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    Nowt wrong with grits! you have them with gravy?
  27. Caliban

    Caliban I don't need no steenkin' title!

    With gravy, or butter, or eggs, or sausage, or refried, or salmon patties, or anything - grits is good! ;)

    We'uns have southern accents here, of course - I don't really notice how redneck I sound until I hear my voice on a phone, etc. - yikes! Down below Charleston, the Gullahs prevail - talk about a Deep South accent!
  28. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    Ohhhhhh I'm hungry as hell now!

    As for accents, well mine is not what many think it would be when they know the city I live or work in vs my accent, its not the typical one, mine is a mix thats unusual. Someone here once said I was a posh scouse, and that would be a fair assessment.
  29. Novice

    Novice MajorGeek


    Which part of the country do you live in? :)
  30. oma

    oma MajorGeek

    I'm trilingual and when I went to Holland over 10 years ago, I was told that I have an accent speaking Dutch.(my mother tongue) :( Therefore I speak all 3 with an accent. :-D :-D

    A nasty manager (not mine) who used to bully many employees at a now defunct oil company repeated at one time my "R" as I have difficulties with the English "R". Since he was a Newfie and knowing that English was his only language, I told him that people who speak English with an accent are bilingual. :p That made him shut up forever allright!! ;)

    Yeah, I was for a short time in a cust serv call centre and many customers wanted to know what country I was from. Some guessed it right, especially European Canadians or the ones who had Dutch friends.

    Yes, I hear the difference in between Canadian and American English, although sometimes it's subtle. It's hard to describe. I hear the difference mostly on TV and when the American accents are really obvious such as from Boston, Texas and some southern states. Southern people have more of a twang to it. There is also a vast difference between Canadian and Parisian French. Since Toronto is such a cosmopolitan city, there are many accents to enjoy.

    I used to love the English series "On the Buses" and "Are you being served" although the first one was a bit hard to follow sometimes. I love the Sco'ish accent.
  31. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    You have good TV taste OMA ;) those are classics, Scotish accent mmm for me not as sexy as the Irish one, or more for me the Italian, Russian or Greek ones, but thats me.
  32. oma

    oma MajorGeek

    Too bad that these classics "oldies" are not shown anymore. :( :( I LOVE English humor/comedies combined with their accents. :cool

    Perhaps I like the Sco'ish accent due to their rolling "R"'s? (something I can't imitate) :-D The Irish accent is definitely more gentle though. Perhaps that's why I also liked Gilbert O'Sullivan, the Irish singer?

    Yeah, I found out the Liverpool accent through the Beatles. Quite a few British actors and singers with their own accent, although I don't remember their names since they are from the past.
  33. Caliban

    Caliban I don't need no steenkin' title!

    South Carolina, near Myrtle Beach.
  34. Francie Mc

    Francie Mc Private E-2

    Hi Halo, correct on all points. I am really sirprised, as you have me zapped by naming the town as well . What knowledge do you have of Lurgan.I left there about 53 yrs ago. I still have some family and a lot of friends. Love to hear from you.
  35. BILLMCC66

    BILLMCC66 Bionic Belgian

    @ OMA
    I have found one of the biggest problems that the Dutch/Belgians have with english is the pronunciation of "th" in a word, My name is McCarthy and invariably they say McCarty which is the actual irish way of saying it.

    As for accents here in Belgium if you travel 10 to 15 km in any direction the accent changes.
  36. oma

    oma MajorGeek

    Never realized that by "swallowing" the "H" is the Irish way. Taught and thought would then be spoken exactly the same? The "th" is more like a lisp to the Dutch. ;) A teacher teaching English in High School in Holland told us to exaggerate all the words and then the pronunciation would be correct. :-D I think it's just taking it easy by omitting the "h" in a word.
    As I remember about Noord Brabant, the accents didn't change that much, it were the dialects that differed even from village>village>city, even in a 20 km. radius. One could barely understand the dialect spoken 15 km away. It almost felt like being in another country. :-D Don't know if it's still like that.
  37. BILLMCC66

    BILLMCC66 Bionic Belgian

    It is still the same.

    We live in Brugge where my wife was born and if we travel to Oostend 12km it is a totally different accent and when we go to Antwerp my wife can not understand the dialect.
  38. rustyjack

    rustyjack MajorGeek

    Now i tink your just taking the pith OMA ! :p:-D
  39. sikvik

    sikvik Corporal Karma

  40. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member


    Town was a rough guess as you mentioned Spadetown, and I know Lurgan's is the real name as IIRC and you can correct me its a nickname of the town, something to do with the turf fields... or something like that?

    Dont know how I know that, but likely came up over a beer or 5 the The Crown Pub, Belfast.

    No knowledge of Lurgan as not managed to get over that way as yet but I do visit Belfast a few times a year for work, mainly at the Queens Uni and the Royal Victoria Hospital.
  41. Caliban

    Caliban I don't need no steenkin' title!

    A perfect example: not a damn Yankee among us would ever say Queens Uni...! :-D:drink
  42. DavidGP

    DavidGP MajorGeeks Forum Administrator - Grand Pooh-Bah Staff Member

    Oh I walked or stumbled into that one!!

    Queens University of Belfast

    Sidetracks me on accents to words used in common practice that can mean different things between Yankee and Brit

    Fag aka Cigarette (UK) = Somethink else in USA, just think of a poor Brit in the USA going "I'm just popping out for a quick fag", I have seen that happen here, when a few Americans where over for a meeting, and one of my colleagues said that, the faces in the room where a "Kodak Moment" picture.

    Fanny Pack/Bag (USA) = Get your face slapped in UK as we call then Bum Bags.

    and the list goes on, but it always facinates me the way words are differently used in slang or normal usage depending on the country your in.
  43. Rikky

    Rikky Wile E. Coyote - One of a kind

    I hate my accent which is a Northern Wigan accent I try my best every day to speak with no accent,the reason I hate it is because it sounds dumb and lazy to me anyway.I like clear spoken correctly pronounced English,regional dialects with custom words drive me nuts.

    I can easily tell the difference between Canadian and American,to me Canadians sound like they're leaking air or sending the words partly through their nose.

    I think its funny when English actors do American accents they don't choose an accent its always mish mash of different regions,House is a good example not that I watch the show but his accent is terrible to me he sounds like a little like he keeps flipping between,New York/Boston and Chicago ,Equally I've never heard a good English accent done by an American actor.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2010
  44. runningcart

    runningcart Corporal

    my friends mock me because i don't have their yorkie accent :eek i guess that comes from my 'rents - its awful when i answer the phone and people start talking to me like i'm them :confused personally i don't hear the similarity between us

    i'm fairly good with accents, if you count distinguishing english regionals, and then general SA, aussie, american etc. and don't forget the chav accent ;)
  45. rustyjack

    rustyjack MajorGeek

    Talking of accents, anyone heard from JOTS lately :( !
    Hope everything is OK with him :confused ?
  46. bigtrucks

    bigtrucks MajorGeek

    rolleyes Sorry for the Hi Jack Ned.
    JOTS is a die hard and you of all should know that.:p JK Yeah he is really having a go with life right now but so far all is well with him and his family. He is out of touch with the electronics world you might say for a bit. But we all know how he bounces back to his feet. TeeCee and I are trying to keep in touch with him the best we know how. By the way What is a "phone shop?" Is that anything like our WiFi shops here? I'll have TC pm you if anything new comes.
  47. rustyjack

    rustyjack MajorGeek

    Hi Jack Ned :confused
    and yeah ask TC to PM me about JOTS, thanks BT or even you PM me ! ;)
  48. Nedlamar

    Nedlamar MajorGeek

    Oh come on Rikky, I have to disagree here, Johnny Depp can speak better English than I can lol, Sweeny Todd, Pirate etc, the guy has a cleaner English accent than American IMO.
    But for the most part you're right, niether work very well.

    What gets me is when I here North Americans try to mimmick an English accent they always sound thick/stupid, they generally drone, but the one that annoys me the most that I hear frequently is "Oh blotty 'ell" and "Blotty" said with dropped T's, I have never in all my 33 years of life heard an Englishman said the word "Blotty", what they are trying to mimmick is the word "Bloody"
    Extremely annoying.

    As for Canadian accent, the description you give I think is like an East Coast, if you get more central they don't sound like that, but I guess it's the same as English accents always being London, ...it's stereotyping.
  49. motc7

    motc7 Vice Admiral (Starfleet)

    Philly, Jersey...it's all the same...
  50. Rikky

    Rikky Wile E. Coyote - One of a kind

    Well since I think johnny Depp is one of if not the greatest actor currently alive on the planet I have to agree.

    Definitely the exception that proves the rule.

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