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Why is the British accent so popular?

I'm sure this has been discussed before (get a search function for discussions, Italki!), but as a Brit I've been told by many different nationalities that they "love my accent". As with most people, I don't actually like the sound of my voice that much, but I was wondering why the British accent seems to be so popular.

Jan 12, 2015 2:32 PM
Comments · 18

Yes, this topic comes up every so often. Here are the last two threads:


In fact, I'm not sure that the 'British' accent is so popular. Plenty of members here say they find American pronunciation easier to understand, having had so much exposure to it via TV, films, music and so on. I've also noticed that amongst those members who state a preference, the majority ask for American English. 


I wonder if people comment on your accent simply because, in the context of the Anglophone world as a whole, your accent is relatively 'unusual'. And if they comment on it, they're hardly likely to say 'I hate your accent', are they? Perhaps we, as British English speakers, should be aware that 'I love your accent' might mean no more than 'Oh, I didn't expect a sound like that to come out of your mouth. You don't sound anything like the people I watch on Big Bang Theory.'

January 12, 2015

Well! Most Americans "love" the British accent. In fact, people find it intelligent. I'm talking about the standard RP accent. My classmates did a little research project about it. They recorded some random facts and some false statements in both British and American accents. Then, they randomly played these recordings, and asked people if they thought these statements were true or false. The results showed that people were most likely to believe the British voice even if the statement read was false, and people were unlikely to believe the American voice even if the statement was true. Of course, it's not a proof of anything. But I thought it was an interesting experiment. 

January 12, 2015

Hmm, Good question. As an American that cant speak the Queen's English, there is something very formal about the Brittish way of speaking. That and the fact that you say words like "Another" as "A-nuh-vah" makes you sound more sophisticated. In my eyes (or rather, ears) American English is less accented and easier to understand, and to prove my point, listen to an english singer. It doesnt matter if they are American or Brittish, they normally have about the same accent when they sing, even if they may use different words. Getting back to the question, why do so many people like your accent? I don't know xD It's like asking why some people like girl's with blonde hair, or why people like sports cars, they just do. Case in point, most of the world hears American English every day via internet, hollywood, or music. Maybe Brittish English has became the sexy accent in the worlds eye?(Ear)

January 12, 2015

I don't think we can generalise about accents particularly those heard in such large and diverse countries as the UK (which is not just "Britain") and the United States where regional differences are obvious.


In the UK, accent is often determined by which of the four countiries of the UK you come from and, even today, by class, education and status. I had a friend who grew up in Brixton, a relatively poor area of London, who went to elocution classes to help her "lose" her "south London" accent in the hope of improving her job and career prospects. 


So I am not sure if there ever was a "mother accent" other than the accent of those who had the power and authority at the time and determined how those lucky enough to achieve some formal education should speak. Even up to the early 20th century, many members of the British royal family spoke English with a German accent!


Personally, I find hearing different accents interesting as they often reflect the speaker's differing geographic and cultural background and, if nothing else, can be a good topic for starting a conversation! 







January 13, 2015

I’m American and sometimes hear the same thing about my accent. Some of it might be small talk and politeness.


For me, it depends on the individual speaker because there are some American and British accents that are very difficult to understand and that reflect poorly on the speaker.

January 12, 2015
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