Post # 1
I study languages, and so when I encounter someone who has a different dialect of English than that which my ears are accustomed to, I’m always curious.
I can usually quickly identify some influences, like when English isn’t a speaker’s first language, and if I ask about it, it’s because I’m genuinely interested in their backgrounds. Another poster said she didn’t know how to take someone complimenting her beautiful accent. I’ve always found that people are happy to tell me about their influences, be them from another part of the US, or another country entirely.
I do tend to tread lightly when I ask, but now I’m curious, is it rude, or offensive, or awkward?
Post # 3
Nope, I don’t think so. I like being complimented on my accent haha 🙂
Post # 4
The asker will never think it’s rude, but to be honest, it is very othering.
If every person you met simply told you that you look beautiful, that’s great… but eventually you will wonder if that is all people will know you for (your looks). Commenting on someone’s accent usually leads to the next question, “Where are you from?”
Someone with a local accent would never be asked that.
Most people who experience this eventually stop minding because there isn’t much they can do. Racism is everywhere (both obviously and subliminally) and if someone is constantly offended, it would ruin their day… everyday.
Post # 5
@mrsbruff2b: That’s a good point, and kind of what I was wondering about. If I do bring it up, it’s almost always well into (30 minutes or so) a conversation. I don’t want to make people self-conscious about that being the first or only thing I notice about them.
I kind of understand the implied racism, but honestly, I ask U.S. speakers as much as I do ESL speakers. Like, if someone has a midwestern or northeastern accent, I’m just as likely to bring it up eventually. I don’t know if it helps, but I also make sure to tell them why I’m interested- I spend my days working with phonetics and languages, and so I’m super-tuned to listening to differences, and that diversity is beautiful to me.
Post # 6
@bells219: A lot of it is not intentional, but we still have to be aware. When was the last time someone asked you where you were from based on your accent?
Post # 7
I dont think it is rude. However, I get a little “annoyed” when people say it to me. mostly, because I dont know that I have an accent so when someone mentions it I become Self-conscious. I moved to Chicago from southern Indiana which yo umight not think is a difference but they are over 300 miles away and southern indiana is very “hick” and chicago is the complete opposite. I dont notice my accent at all, I think I talk like everyone else in Chicago.
Post # 8
@mrsbruff2b: Never. BUT, I lived in Florida for a time and when it came up in conversation that I was from Texas, the first question was always “But where’s your accent?!?!” I have almost a complete lack of regional dialect, with the exception of a few colloquialisms- “y’all, fixing to, etc.” The very second I let loose a “y’all,” I get SO much crap (lightheartedly) from non-southern speakers.
Thanks for your insight, this is why I created the thread :). I like to think of myself as pretty “aware,” but spending most of my life in Austin does have it’s disadvantages… 🙁
Post # 9
It’s not exactly rude, but it’s tiring if you’re the one with the accent. My Mr is British, we live in the States, and visit the UK 4-6 times a year. At home in the US, he gets a lot of comments (all positive) on his accent, and it stopped being fun for him about 8 years ago. When we’re in the UK, I’m sick of it by the fifth time that someone asks me if I’m a Yank. And neither of us like how the asker sometimes feels it’s okay to then strike up a conversation about our respective countries.
The worst is when the Mr is asked where he’s from, and gives the name and location of his hometown (it’s not a city or county that most Americans have ever heard of) and the asker follows up with “My aunt Tilly is from (insert name of random village, or London, or Glasgow which is in a whole other country), I wonder if you know her!”. Ummmm England is small, but that doesn’t mean everyone knows the whole damn country!!!! To be fair, I had a number of people in Australia and New Zealand ask me if I knew President Obama (um yeah I drop by the White House every so often) or their relatives in Washington State (3000 miles away) last time I was there.
Post # 10
I clicked ‘other’ because although I don’t particularly mind being asked about my accent, I don’t actively ‘like’ it. I have a very mixed Scottish accent, with traces of Glasgow (my home town), North East (where my mum’s family are from), and English (due to where I went to school), and it constantly gets commented on. It gets a bit tedious after a while, but I can’t say I’ve ever been offended by it (but then again I am not ethnically different from those asking).
Post # 11
I don’t personally have a accent. But my mother has a British accent even after being in the country since she was 13. She says she while she dosn’t mind it its sometimes annoying. Sometimes when we are out and people ask about it it bothers me cause it sounds like they are being nosy.
Post # 12
I wouldn’t say a compliment is rude. I wouldn’t be offended by someone showing a genuine interest in my accent. (Not that I think there’s anything particularly odd/special about my accent!)
I often get laughed at by people who speak ‘properly,’ and if I say something differently to the way they say it, there’s only so many times I’ll repeat it for their amusement!!
Post # 13
In the USA, people kept asking me to speak and say TEA and BLOODY HELL, and things like that, lmfao! I did not mind, I found it funny. But here in Dubai, they take the piss out of me and call me a chav and a cockney, neither of which I am. I think I speak very eloquently. thank you very much!
Post # 14
I guess since I don’t have an accent where I live, I cannot understand how it would be annoying or seem nosey. I often ask people about themselves… if I see an interesting tattoo, if someone is wearing a pretty handbag, or has cool makeup on, unique piece of jewelry, etc. Curiosity is natural and if you don’t ask questions you don’t learn. But again, I haven’t had to deal with the accent thing so I don’t have personal experience.
Post # 15
@fishbone: I can see how that would be annoying alright! My Fiance is Irish, but has a very, very faint accent. Most people don’t even seem to realize that he’s from Ireland unless he tells them, so he rarely gets any comments. When I’m over in Ireland, people will occasionally ask me where I’m from – but not nearly often enough for it to get annoying.
@bestbuddies: I always amazed when people know that I’m from Chicago just by my accent. I think that I sound just the same as most others midwesterners.
Post # 16
A sincere compliment is much better than, “Huh… what???” or jokes about my pronunciation.