A recent discussion on Danny Breslin’s blog got me thinking about how people respond to the sounds of different languages, accents and dialects. For example, there seems to be a general consensus that French and Italian are very pleasant to listen to, while Chinese and German are considered a bit…erm… challenging on the ear.
Then there’s also the issue of non-native speaker accents. I remember – it must have been 20 years ago – seeing pictures of Pakistani cricket legend Imran Khan, and thinking he was pretty hot. But listening to him being interviewed on the BBC one day made my celebrity crush evaporate in an instant. THAT accent just makes my hormones die, I cannot help it. English spoken with a strong German accent also makes me cringe – I guess it’s just too close to home 😉
It’s not uncommon for regional accents to elicit this kind of response. In the UK, ‘Brummie’ spoken by people in and around Birmingham seems to be the most despised. I understand that accents across the West Midlands vary, and that it’s not all Brummie, but, to the ears of people not originating from or living in that area, the subtle nuances are lost. To me, it’s all just various shades of unpleasant.
About a decade ago, I set up meeting with a guy I’d encountered on a dating site. I knew he was from Wolverhampton (a town just north-west of Birmingham), so I should have been prepared. Well, actually hearing him speak on the phone for the first time sent my lustometer readings spiralling into the coal pit.
(On this note, I’d like to point out that I’m not so shallow that I can’t overcome my dislike of certain accents if I actually connect with someone. It just didn’t happen on that occasion.)
The German equivalent of Brummie is the Saxon accent. It is the unanimously most reviled, nobody can listen to that and maintain an easy smile on their face, except, of course, for the perpetrators themselves. (Oh cruel irony of ironies, the German word for the Saxon accent is “Sächsisch”, which is pronounced “sexish” – and it’s so definitely NOT!!!). I have no idea how what the Saxons do those poor vowels can possibly be legal, but, unfortunately, crawling through their windows at night and severing their vocal chords isn’t.
Well, I’d love to hear if there are any languages/dialects/accents that make your small intestine wrap itself round your pancreas. And what’s the most loathed regional accent in your country?