South Africa has 12th friendliest accent in the world

South Africa has 12th friendliest accent in the world . Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA) ANATOPIXLOCKDOWN

South Africa has 12th friendliest accent in the world . Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA) ANATOPIXLOCKDOWN

Published Dec 18, 2023


A survey has placed South Africa having among the world’s friendliest accents, with the US leading the pack as the top-ranked country on the list.

The findings revealed that Americans had the highest chance of being considered friendly, with 1 in 5 choosing the American accent as the friendliest (19.5%).

According to respondents thought the South African accent was the nicest sounding, but has dropped in ranking to12th overall, from 2019 when South Africa was deemed to have the second-most beautiful accent in the world.

It’s reported that 6 in 10 people believe that others had make subconscious judgements about them based on their accent or how they speak (62%), with accent bias dictating job prospects, level of attractiveness, intelligence and even friendliness - it is clear that dialects can shape various aspects of daily life. 1-3

In light of this, the researchers at also dug deeper into how various accents were perceived globally.

In order to achieve this, 5 000 individuals worldwide were surveyed in order to determine which nation had the greatest likelihood of having the friendliest and least friendly accents.

Americans are most likely to be regarded as nice; 1 in 5 respondents (19.5%) thought that an American accent was the friendliest.

Dr Christopher Strelluf, Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Warwick, provided insight on why some accents were perceived as more friendly than others.

“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,” he said.

“For instance, Americans would probably have different evaluations of the friendliness of English they associate with the big cities of the north-eastern seaboard compared with the rural areas of the south-eastern 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 English 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.”

Despite the Canadian accent being the most closely related to the general American English, with similar rules for pronunciation and accent, the Canadian accent received 10.8 fewer percentage points than American-with just 1 in 12 (8.7%) selecting it as the most friendly accent.

The Star

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