Communication is at the heart of everything. The way you sound holds sway in determining the reactions you get. A recent survey reveals that 6 in ten people believe that others have made subconscious judgments about them based on their accent or how they speak, with accent bias dictating job prospects, level of attractiveness, intelligence, and friendliness.
A global study of 5,000 participants reveals which accent is the most popular.
Survey Question: Which accent sounds the most friendly?
Americans have the highest chance of being considered friendly, with 1 in 5 stating the American accent as the friendliest. (19.5%).
Despite the Canadian accent being the most closely related to General American English, the Canadian accent received 10.8 fewer percentage points than American with just 1 in 12 selecting it as the most friendly accent (8.7%).
The British accent is the second most favoured, with 1 in 7 identifying this accent as sounding the most friendly (13.6%). This corresponds with a recent study that uncovered that the British accent is the most likeable globally, with 45% of respondents stating they enjoy hearing their native language spoken with a British accent.
The Australian accent places third, with almost 1 in ten respondents considering this accent to be friendly (8.8%). While the Kiwi accent is often regarded as close resemblance to the Australian accent, primarily distinguished by vowel pronunciation, New Zealanders ranked 15th overall. Just 1 in 100 respondents identified the Kiwi accent as the most friendly, this is despite previously being deemed the ‘sexiest’ accent in 2019.5,6
In understanding why some accents are perceived as more friendly than others, Dr. Christopher Strelluf, Associate Professor of Linguistics at The University of Warwick provides the following insight:
“Attitudes toward language varieties usually reflect the ideas we have about people who speak those varieties. If people around the world think American English sounds friendly, it’s good news for Americans—because it means people think of Americans as friendly people. More nuanced accent labels would likely reveal even greater variability.
For instance, Americans would probably have different evaluations of the friendliness of English they associate with the big cities of the northeastern seaboard compared with the rural areas of the southeastern US. Many people in the UK would feel that accents of the English North are much friendlier than those of the English South.
The meanings of Englishes globally are also changing rapidly across a range of dimensions. For instance, while British Englishes have historically provided an international model for ‘correct’ English, people who live in countries where English is being learned for access to the global marketplace increasingly prefer American Englishes as their standard. As such, the attitudes toward English in this survey reveal the fundamental ways we continue to navigate our social relationships through language and through our ideas about language.”
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