Social Saturdays’ posts look at the social side of language. After all, language isn’t just a way to communicate, it is communication.
Southern Irish was voted as the nation’s favourite accent, as well as the friendliest one, and the sexiest one.
The Mancunian accent, on the other hand, is the least favourite and least friendly, while the Brummie accent is the most annoying ans Scouse the least trustworthy.
Scottish, in spite coming in second for both favourite and sexiest accent, as well as third for friendliest, was voted as the most aggressive and most difficult to understand.
Received Pronunciation, (RP, i.e. Queen’s English), was considered the most intelligent and also as having the most authority.
However, this wasn’t always the case.
Had this exact same survey been done in the 18th century, the results would have been pretty much the opposite of today’s.
In the 18th century, Liverpool and Birmingham were basking in the profits of trading while the Irish were suffering from the Potato Famine, and hated for being Catholic after the reformation. The Scots were still being tamed by the English during the Jacobite rebellions.
Accent and dialect have absolutely no correlation with personality or intelligence. They simply indicate where we grew up. The stigma attached to certain accents are bred, not from reality or fact, but from society.
These stigmas are the reason for the number of call centre in Newcastle dwarfs those in Liverpool. We instinctively trust the Geordie accent, and would be reluctant to give our card details to a Scouser on the phone, yet if there’s a problem, you’ll be transferred to someone with an RP accent, because they sound more intelligent.
It doesn’t help that these stereotypes are only reinforced by society. Children with strong accents are put in the lower groups in class – not for being less intelligent, but for seeming so, because of their accent.
But, hey, I apparently have an aggressive, sexy, friendly, difficult to understand accent.
I don’t know whether to be proud or not.