The South African accent is voted one of the top 10 most relaxing in the world

The South African accent has been voted number 7 in the top 10 most relaxing accents in the world. Picture: Pexels

The South African accent has been voted number 7 in the top 10 most relaxing accents in the world. Picture: Pexels

Published Jul 2, 2024


A new study has revealed the world’s most relaxing accents, according to science, and the South African accent came in at number seven in the top ten globally.

In 2023, the South African accent was voted as the twelfth most friendly accent in the world.

Taking these studies into account, it may account for the many international call centres with operations in South Africa.

Dr Chris Montgomery, an expert in Dialectology from the University of Sheffield, surveyed over 1,500 respondents. Individuals were asked to rate each accent on various factors including: relaxing to unrelaxing; easy to difficult to follow; friendly to unfriendly.

These are the the world’s top ten most relaxing accents.

The South African accent has been voted number 7 in the top 10 most relaxing accents in the world. Picture: Censusworld

The research found that the Italian, Australian and French accents were perceived to be the most relaxing globally.

According to the study, the Italian accent takes the top spot with 41% of respondents finding the accent relaxing. The Italian accent has a reputation for being melodic or ‘musical’ thanks to its varying intonation and rhythm, which many people find soothing.

Following very closely in second place with 40% is the Australian accent, with the French accent ranking in the top three with 38% of respondents finding this accent very relaxing. 37% Of respondents voted the New Zealand accent as very relaxing. Also in the top five most relaxing dialects is the Spanish accent, with 36% of respondents finding the accent soothing to listen to.

The methodology behind the research

Dr Chris Montgomery collated a list of 33 accents from around the world to present options that respondents would be most likely to recognise.

One thousand five hundred and two respondents were then surveyed via a global research company called Censusworld. The participants were asked to rate each accent on a five-point scale from ‘Extremely’ to ‘Not at all’ for the factors of relaxing/unrelaxing, easy/difficult to follow and friendly/unfriendly.

The accents were then ranked based on the percentage of people who found the accents relaxing, according to the net percentage of ‘extremely relaxing’ and ‘somewhat relaxing’.

Dr Chris Montgomery says, “There are a number of different factors that can affect how relaxing we perceive an accent to be - using this research as one example, we can begin to see that there are patterns in how ‘relaxing’ an accent is, compared to how ‘friendly’ it is, or how ‘difficult’ it is to understand.

“We associate people from different places with different characteristics, so the accent associated with each place will also be linked with these characteristics as a result. For example, the ‘received pronunciation’ dialect is often seen as ‘posh’ or associated with those who are highly educated, which can trigger certain emotions and feelings.

“We know anecdotally that people find some accents more relaxing to listen to than others, so it’s been great to quantify this. We know that a lot of people enjoy Italian accents, so seeing this dialect emerge as the most relaxing is quite interesting.”

The study was initiated by Jason Goldberg, from the spa company,

“We know that people around the world perceive voices and accents in different ways, but as the experts in all things relaxation, we were really keen to find out if there is any science behind which accents are considered the most relaxing to the human ear.

Accents also affect how we react when listening to a podcast or audiobook with regards to what we find the most soothing.

IOL LIfestyle