What english accent is most difficult to understand in your opinion?
[[Eimis144]] 9039
Hi folks,

What do you think what english accent is most difficult to understand?
In my point of view the most difficult english accent is irish,of course some irish speaks quite clearly,however most irish talks very very fast and unclearly, then I talk to them some times I have no idea what they're talking about.It's extremely hard to understand them,especially then speaks teenagers,retirees,and generally most irish.
So I think you need to be very very good in english in order you could understand them :)
August 2011
  • OscarP 19742
    Well the most difficult accent for everyone is which you are not accustomed :-)
    Seriously, cockney and Scottish accent and Southern American accent are not easy to understand for me.
    Anyway, I am not an expert.
    August 2011
  • peter 56303 416 3700
    I find Scotts hard to understand, particularly in a noisy pub.

    Meanwhile, I think Wayne Rooney is worse than Flintoff. http://bit.ly/ozjLWx
    August 2011
  • [[Eimis144]] 9039
    @jeff lindqvist yeah I know every city has a different accent,in fact I was talking to irish who has lived far from Dublin and as he came to live here he couldn't understand Dublin people because they had a different accent.Interesting same country and english speech but sometime it's hard to understand ourselves
    August 2011
  • Jamie 10882 8285 30654
    Does Wayne Rooney speak English ?
    August 2011
  • [[Eimis144]] 9039
    @Jamie yeah I guess he speak English :D in my comprehension he pronounce several words and phrases pretty clearly,but most of his speech I need to listen extremely intently in order I could understand him
    August 2011
  • Jamie 10882 8285 30654
    Eimis,
    You're not alone; most of the UK population has the same problem.
    August 2011
  • jeff_lindqvist 7272 25962 45441
    Agreed, Wayne Rooney is worse than Flintoff (though still not difficult). I guess learners from all over the world are far too used to whatever "cassette accent" they learned English from. Watch any (I mean ANY) movie from UK or USA and you'll hear a bunch of accents, sociolects and idiolects.
    August 2011
  • [[Eimis144]] 9039
    I think in order you could understand every native English speaker with different accent you need to mastery English very very well.Sometimes native English speakers from different countries doesn't understand each other,as I know some Americans can't understand certain Irish accent.So us learners is much more difficult to comprehend them
    August 2011
  • jeff_lindqvist 7272 25962 45441
    I'm not talking about _every_ native speaker, just quite common accents that are present in many movies and tv series. And I'm not talking about slang or certain sociolects (that might be somewhat difficult even for natives), people with speech impediments, "broken English" etc.

    I've lost count of the times when people have said that this or that person has such a strange accent (based on their own not-so-good-English-accent, the likelihood that they've learned English under bad conditions, with only one set of cassettes and a handful of voices - how on earth can they believe that everybody speak like that?).

    Perhaps I'm lucky because I'm used to hearing different accents because there are several in Sweden (each with their own prosody and phonology) while other languages might have one standard way of speaking. I might also be lucky because we never dub foreign language movies in Sweden. Any Swede who regularly watches movies has heard hundreds and hundreds of actors speaking English.
    August 2011
  • guitario 2777 177 140
    As the first English person in this thread i should say that for me, the rural Scottish accent is the hardest to understand. Also some areas of the Caribbean have a very heavy accent that i sometimes mistake for a totally foreign accent.

    Aside from those i can understand nearly every English accent perfectly. I think this is due to the amount of movies i watch.
    August 2011
  • [[crowderd]] 23871 22079 26101
    I must say...I'm an American living in England for about six months and I have had difficulty understanding English here on several occasions. My children and I have seen a particular television commercial several times and each time we've had to laugh because we have absolutely no idea what the actor in the commercial is saying!
    August 2011
  • [[1892uDH]] 0
    I'm a native speaker from Australia and I've got no problems with the above accents. It's only really when people are mumbling, there is loud background noise, some sort of speech impediment or drunkenness, that I won't understand someone well. That being said, I have to listen more carefully to some accents, and sometimes a word will slip by.

    I think the reason for this is the exposure I've had to many different dialects.

    As a side note, I've had problems with various forms of African English in the past. I don't think this is the same thing though, because these speakers are not native speakers, speaking English alongside their first languages because of them being official in those countries. On the other hand, some Africans speak very eloquently in English, so it might be something related to class/educational level which I've got no real idea about.
    August 2011
  • Farrago 18422 17
    My Latin American friends always say they can't understand Australian accents, I've heard it many times.

    And Caribbean accents, because their accents are heavy from creole languages most likely.

    I had this Kenyan friend, who spoke like this British-Kenyan mixed accent. and everyone would have trouble understanding him, but I would completely.

    August 2011
  • ishikawa87 18 657 69
    I can appreciate why a lot of people would find a lot of us Scottish people tricky to understand when we speak colloquially but it depends on the person and region. The Scots language is tricky to pin down though. The dialect continuum of Scots is so wide that it's extremely difficult to say whether someone is genuinely speaking Scots or English with some Scots vocabulary.

    Scots is largely diluted nowadays by English but in some places you can hear very "broad Scots" where less dilution has taken place in vernacular speech and sometimes even I as a Scot find people with certain dialects tricky to understand if they use a lot of Scots vocabulary but then again I've lived in Glasgow all my life where there has been a lot more dilution of Scots than in other parts of the country.

    I just wonder what it must be like for people who have never heard Scots before and have English as a second language. I remember hearing about a trip to Germany that my dad had with his school when he was 16 and how a classmate went into a shop and asked for (trying this phonetically) "a coupla pieces 'n soseej!" and, being met with an obvious blank look from the shop staff, my dad had to step in and translate into standard English which was "two sausage sandwiches". Unfortunately quite a lot of the class could barely speak standard English so it got quite difficult for the poor Germans they spoke to.


    August 2011
  • [[Eimis144]] 9039
    @Ishikawa87

    Yeah I agree with you opinion.It doesn't mean that if you're Scottish for example or Irish your accent every time will be difficult to understand.It depends on the person and region.In my case I've talked with some Irish which had different accent between each other.I notice that person who is cultivated speaks much clearly than a person which are ignorant.Some Irish speaks extremely fast and unclear and it's very hard to understand them sometime, I'm talking only about Irish because I just had opportunity to talk only with them
    September 2011
  • gsold 91
    Some time ago i found this video on youtube :-)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FFRoYhTJQQ
    As for me i think we all have an accent when we speak at our native language. All territories(provinces) have their accent. And i think it's normal and natural. And it's good reason for jokes :-)).
    January 2012
  • Daisuke 4349 680
    Do you still rememer the Spaniard Xabi Alonso in Liverpool days?
    I've seen a couple of his interviews and he's got scouse accent on his English.

    It's funny to see foreign footballers getting the local accent.
    January 2012
  • eugrus 17101 40708 1
    Since I mostly have exposure to American English, BBC Radio 4 sometimes makes me strain myself a bit. Australian sounds a bit unusual, but not hard to understand. Don't recognize any peculiarities of Canadian accent whatsoever.
    I am a big fan of Pygmalion and know that there are lots of inner British English dialects, but I don't have any exposure to them, so, don't have much to say on it. At the end of the day, all these differences are extremely tiny when comparing with German dialects, for instance.
    January 2012
  • guitario 2777 177 140
    Actually I have been working with some mackems. (Sunderland area of England) and I can honestly say I could barely understand a single word. It wasn't just me either, my colleagues couldn't understand.
    January 2012
  • [[Lucas_]] 237 3560 1551
    Definitely british is more closed to me because I never used any british content to learn english.
    January 2012
  • Z33Dubyah 2814 1144 32505
    There are countless accents in America, too.. Cajun accents will give most everyone who hasn't spent any time in the Southern U.S. (even other Americans) a lot of trouble.. They can get a lot thicker than this example below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5WF9gtZITQ&feat...

    January 2012
  • gsold 91
    I found some interesting words about accent at http://china232.com/blog/2007/07/:
    "The mistakes almost sound natural. It’s the same story with pronunciation. This is just called an accent. We hear them all the time and it’s very easy for us to understand."
    "natural mistakes" -> :-)
    January 2012
  • Scrim20gb 379
    I have been told that my accent (English Geordie) is hard to understand. I had a real hard time when I moved to Canada, people were constantly telling to slow down and repeat my self. Now after 6 years of living here I have a Mutt accent!!!

    For me I find the Newfoundland and Bretton accents of Canada difficult to understand especially when they have had a few whiskeys!
    February 2012
  • [[halfflah-001]] 2664
    I think it's all about exposure. I have no exposure to maritime Canadian accents and when I meet someone from the other side of the country it usually takes a little while to adjust to hearing them. That being said, I am surrounded by non-native English speakers from Asian countries and I have no problem understanding them at all, but they often complain of being completely unintelligible when they go travelling to the states.

    My friend from Malaysia is fluent in English, but he grew up in a boarding school in the UK, then moved here. It's almost impossible for people who don't know him to understand what he's saying, because he talks very quickly, but also because he uses British English with a Malaysian accent!

    There are no "mistakes" really, especially if an entire group of people are making the same "mistakes", it just becomes a new speech variety for that language.
    February 2012
  • As a native English speaker, I find the Indian accent extremely difficult, but of course with every accent there’s people you can easily understand and others you can’t, it really depends on elocution and speed.
    February 2012
  • [[1892uDH]] 0
    I find too that it really only depends on exposure.
    February 2012
  • Makacenko 7661 0 2945
    @gsold

    :-)))) I thought he spoke Russian at first.
    February 2012
  • flowersuccess 451 19
    Both me and skyblueteapot think American English is usally the hardest to understand ;-D
    February 2012
  • jeff_lindqvist 7272 25962 45441
    While nobody would think that Vitalij is a native English speaker, I have no problems understanding him. It's not uncommon at all for people (regardless of nationality) to have a thick accent like that.
    February 2012
  • usablefiber 4203 7543 16381
    Definitely Yorkshire British accent.
    March 17 at 13:25
    • jaliscostate ua Ukraine 90861 13361 23830
      My TA is from Bengladesh and I get 30-40% of what he says
      March 17 at 13:43
      • usablefiber us United States 4203 7543 16381
        Hahaha It's so true, but I'm talking about native accents. The english speakers from the India region of the world seem to have the most difficult accents to understand...something about how they don'r pronounce all the vowels.

        I also had a TA for organic chemistry last year whom I couldn't understand a word he said. Why do some people speak english fluently on advanced topics.... but with an incomprehensible accent?
        March 18 at 00:52
        • jaliscostate ua Ukraine 90861 13361 23830
          "Why do some people speak english fluently on advanced topics.... but with an incomprehensible accent?"

          Hard to answer. I think that accents is probably the only part in language learning where "talent" can come into play, but there definitely are ways to work on it. I've heard that recording yourself and comparing it with native speakers can work pretty well.

          It makes me crazy because when you speak a "major" language you're used to hear all kinds of accents and the fact that a ton of people study at such a high level and cannot even speak clearly baffles me.

          It would be ridiculous to be frustrated at them because why wouldn't they take the job? There's definitely something wrong with the hiring process because this happens all the time.
          March 18 at 01:45
        • zhk2011 us United States 24655 256 5088
          "Why do some people speak english fluently on advanced topics.... but with an incomprehensible accent?"

          This possibly comes into the fact that the people who are educated in those subjects, will pronounce the words correctly, while as others, who have only read them, will not.

          Advanced English words which derive from a mess of languages is the most likely the cause, where standard English pronunciation gets kicked out the door and more foreign like pronunciation gets brought in.
          March 18 at 16:21
  • zhk2011 24655 256 5088
    Some Scottish people are hard to understand. It's more so the words/phrases they use that I don't understand, not really the pronunciation/slurring of words.

    The hardest accent I've had trouble with has been with people from the mountains of North Carolina. They have a real weird way to talk, almost doesn't seem English. (I live in North Carolina, only about 2 hours from areas like this, and it's crazy how drastic the change of accent is)

    -I have a Southern US accent myself.
    March 18 at 16:17
  • FattyLumpkin 177 0 0
    Scottish!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cENbkHS3mnY&t=110s

    Though I should point out most Scottish accents don't usually sound this confusing. Scots is considered by a lot of people to actually be a separate language, and listening to him I am a bit convinced. Still, there are people that see 'scots' as a dialect of English although I have great difficulty following him.
    March 18 at 16:30
  • DrewPeacock 5243 110 5580
    Geordie.
    March 20 at 10:32
    • Prinz_Skogsvin gb United Kingdom 6511 13 0
      Yup - Geordie is the only one that I wouldn't understand.
      March 20 at 10:38
      • Moderator
        ColinJohnstonov gb United Kingdom 51559 7603 179
        Wouldn't want to either...
        March 20 at 11:32