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Which English Accent Is Easiest for You to Understand?

 

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  #1  
Old January 10, 2013, 08:43 PM
Amara Amara is offline
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Which English Accent Is Easiest for You to Understand?

To non-native English speakers:

Which English accent is easiest to understand

Australian accent
American accent
Canadian accent
British accent
Scottish accent
Irish accent
Kiwi (New Zealand) accent
Indian accent
Other accent (please specify)

Last edited by Amara; January 11, 2013 at 06:42 AM.
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  #2  
Old January 10, 2013, 09:32 PM
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Great question, Amara. Spanish-speaking friends of mine say the British is easier, because in it the consonants are emphasized more than in the American.
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Old January 10, 2013, 11:04 PM
zuma022 zuma022 is offline
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For me I'd say:

Canadian
American
NZ/Australian
British
Irish
Scottish

But probably depends what you are around the most. I was exposed to a lot of American TV when learning. The Canadian is very similar just pronounced more carefully and without the southern or east coast accents. British really depends, the Queen's English is fine, but some northern or more working class accents are much more difficult for me.
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Old January 11, 2013, 12:44 AM
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JPablo JPablo is offline
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I think it depends totally on what you get more use to hear... Last time I flew with British Airways I was shocked at my inability to understand what the flight attendant was saying... until I got used to it...
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Old January 11, 2013, 01:54 AM
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wrholt wrholt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zuma022 View Post
For me I'd say:

Canadian
American
NZ/Australian
British
Irish
Scottish

But probably depends what you are around the most. I was exposed to a lot of American TV when learning. The Canadian is very similar just pronounced more carefully and without the southern or east coast accents. British really depends, the Queen's English is fine, but some northern or more working class accents are much more difficult for me.
It's true that the general Canadian accent is quite similar to the general US accent. However, Canada also has some regional varieties of English that are as extreme as some of the accents from the southeastern US or the coastal areas of the northeastern US: the two that are most pronounced are the the French-influenced English in bilingual towns in Quebec, especially in the Eastern Townships, and the stereotypical accent of Newfoundland.

The regional accents in the US are also more varied that it might seem from US films and television. While it's true that US regional accents are often classified into 3 groups (northeastern, southeastern, and everywhere else), each of these groups consists of dozens of smaller regional accents that tend to share a relatively small number of features but still have significant differences in both pronunciation and vocabulary. Urban areas such as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia are notable for having distinct accents between individual neighborhoods, although some of those differences have become less strong over the past 50 years.
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Old January 11, 2013, 02:20 AM
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Asma Asma is offline
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American
British
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  #7  
Old January 11, 2013, 09:52 AM
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Elaina Elaina is offline
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British
American

No matter how hard I try, I cannot understand the Australian accent....
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Old January 11, 2013, 11:15 AM
Amara Amara is offline
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Sorry, the title should be "easiest" not "easier."
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  #9  
Old January 11, 2013, 11:49 AM
zuma022 zuma022 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrholt View Post
It's true that the general Canadian accent is quite similar to the general US accent. However, Canada also has some regional varieties of English that are as extreme as some of the accents from the southeastern US or the coastal areas of the northeastern US: the two that are most pronounced are the the French-influenced English in bilingual towns in Quebec, especially in the Eastern Townships, and the stereotypical accent of Newfoundland.

The regional accents in the US are also more varied that it might seem from US films and television. While it's true that US regional accents are often classified into 3 groups (northeastern, southeastern, and everywhere else), each of these groups consists of dozens of smaller regional accents that tend to share a relatively small number of features but still have significant differences in both pronunciation and vocabulary. Urban areas such as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia are notable for having distinct accents between individual neighborhoods, although some of those differences have become less strong over the past 50 years.

I completely agree that Canada has regional accents and slang as well, however I find even the strongest Newfoundland accent much easier to understand than say an African American person from New Orleans. And I think also with the Canadian you are much less likely to be exposed to a strong regional accent as compared to the US. The large majority of Canadians seem to have very similar accents whereas in the US, you can tell their origin much easier, at least to my ears
While I certainly agree there are strong regional variants and a Boston and a Long Island accent for example are very different, I couldn't pick one over the other for easier understanding. I find most of the east coast and southern variants equally as hard.
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Old January 11, 2013, 02:02 PM
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Some of the thick Irish/Scottish stuff is near impossible for me to understand as a native English speaker. I have no issues with most of the normal British English. Thick Australian can be pretty tough as well, but it isn't as bad as some of the Irish/Scottish.

So even though you didn't ask me since I am a native speaker:

American - minus Boston and Cajun (Louisana area)
Canadian
British
Australian
Irish/Scottish
Jamaican - some parts are so hard to understand like certain Cajun dialects.
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