What is the toughest accent to learn/understand

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Reecedouglas1, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. Reecedouglas1 macrumors newbie

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  2. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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    #2
    It's a coin toss between my old housemate's Irish father and the Elder Throat-Warblers from the remote Zandakono tribe.
     
  3. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #3
    Supposedly, these guys are speaking English, but without the subtitles I'd be completely lost.

    Link
     
  4. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    I have a pretty awful time understanding some folks from Scotland.
     
  5. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #5
    I suspect that this depends on the actual region, or place, in Scotland.
     
  6. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    Quite likely; I don't know enough about the regional variations to pin it down precisely.
     
  7. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502

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    mobilehaathi,

    No offense to the Scotts but I completely agree with you. I have worked with people from all over the "English" speaking world (American, Canadian, Australian, United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and some others that spoke a mix of American and British English like Kenyan, Filipino, and of course Indian) and I had no trouble understanding any of them, apart from Scottish. I used to work with a guy from Scotland and I could only understand about 30% of what he said. I had better luck understanding people who used English as a second language than him. My British friend told me that he couldn't understand him either. I was told that some Scottish speakers are easy to understand and some from another part are much more difficult to understand but I can't remember which was which (the upper Scottish are more difficult to understand and the lower Scotts are easier to understand is how I remember it being explained to me but that might not be right). If there are any Scotts out there that would care to clarify I would appreciate it.

    Mecha
     
  8. shinji macrumors 65816

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    #8
    My health insurance company's call center is in the Philippines, and I can never understand them.
     
  9. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #9
    Years ago, I remember thinking that subtitles mightn't have been a bad idea on some of the episodes of Taggart (a rather good TV crime-police series, set in Glasgow), or the movie Trainspotting.

    And I am writing as a native English speaker.

    Within Scotland, (indeed, within the rest of the UK and Ireland, as well) some of the regional accents can be quite pronounced, - and indeed, heavy, and, while some of them are fairly easy to understand, some of the others are not.
     
  10. Zenithal macrumors 68040

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    I understand a very good majority of Irish, Scottish and English accents save for a few. That is to say immigrants who pickup an already butchered accent mung it up worse. Rural southern England is incredibly easy to understand and almost sounds American, nearing the south but still in flyover country. I've always enjoyed the various Irish accents. They're soft spoken, to my ears at least, and always puts me at ease.

    I'd say South African accents are a little difficult if the person's first language was Afrikaans and they learned English later. I have terrible memories of encountering these people vacationing in other parts of the world and not having a clue as to what they're attempting to say. However, I suspect they feel the same way about me or anyone who doesn't speak like them.
     
  11. Mousse, Dec 2, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016

    Mousse macrumors 68000

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    #11
    I haven't been to other English speaking countries, so I only have experiences with US speakers. I've found Cajuns the most difficult to understand. The Southern accent is already difficult enough what with all the slur'n' o' wurds 'n' ahll, but Cajuns takes it to the next level. When ever I visit my cousins in Weezeeanna (Louisiana), we have to corresponded with text messages or notepads.

    Edit: I noticed a lot of people saying the Scottish accent is the hardest to understand. I've watched a lot of Star Trek and have never had any problems understanding Chief Engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott.:D:D:D The nice thing about TV accents they are pale imitations of the real thing. If they used the real accent, those Southern hicks on TV would be incomprehensible to y'all Yanks up north.
     
  12. willmtaylor Suspended

    willmtaylor

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    #12
    Some Cajun-speaking English speakers can be quite incomprehensible as well.

    It's a mixture of Southern accent + French accent.
     
  13. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

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    #13
    There are also various Scottish dialects. Some are much easier to understand than others. Just as England has many dialects.
    http://dialectsarchive.com/scotland

    Although I know there are some dialects of English in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean which are nearly unintelligible to most most other English speakers. As they are so heavily influenced by their native languages.

    Of course in many of these areas where the local dialect is difficult to understand. The speakers are capable of speaking and understanding a more neutral accent. So how they would speak to someone for the US or England differs from how they speak to each other.
     
  14. The-Real-Deal82 macrumors 601

    The-Real-Deal82

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    #14
    I live in the Welsh Valleys where accents can change in only a few miles. Many of you would struggle if you found yourself here and Wales is often the forgotten part of the UK to foreigners. Just reading through this thread I see references to English, Scottish and Irish but the Welsh are missing.

    Other difficult accents are Scouse, Geordie, Brummie etc.
     
  15. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #15
    Scouse and Geordie, oh, yes.

    They are a bit of a challenge, to comprehend, certainly.
     
  16. EmaDaCuz macrumors regular

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    #16
    If we talk about UK and actual English, not dialects, I would say Glaswegian is the hardest. Not only it is difficult to understand what locals say, but at times you can't even be understood.
    Number 2 on my list, most of the Northeastern accents are tough. The way they "sing" in Newcastle is unbelievable!
    Worldwide, Jamaican is unintelligible for me. No matter what, I can't get a word right :)
    --- Post Merged, Dec 4, 2016 ---
    It may be difficult to get all the words, but Welsh people are quite expressive in the way they speak. So, at least, you should be able to understand the meaning of a sentence... in some areas of Kent, for example, they speak so flat you can't tell whether they are saying something nice or telling you off :)
     
  17. AlliFlowers Contributor

    AlliFlowers

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    #17
    If there's a Scouser in the cast, the subtitles go on. My brain simply doesn't accept that It's English.

    I have a Scottish friend from Argyle. Most of the time he can be understood with effort. But if he's been drinking? Give it up.
     
  18. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #18
    Actually, I caught about 1/3. :)
     
  19. Scepticalscribe, Dec 4, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

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    #19
    The occasional - and unexpected - interjection of a verb such as 'agitated' - quite carefully enunciated and pronounced - in the midst of a flurry of robust, mono-syllabic Anglo-Saxon articulated in a marked Glaswegian accent - is what makes this especially funny.
     
  20. ThisBougieLife macrumors 65816

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    #20
    Australian/New Zealand seems pretty difficult to learn. Can understand it fine, but actually imitating it isn't easy. I think I finally mastered the "O" sound, though. "coming home" in Australian English sounds almost like American "coming harm".
     
  21. mac666er macrumors regular

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    #21
    I work with Scottish and Irish speakers, it took me a while to understand beyond 90% what people of Dublin are saying. Strangely Scots are not that hard to understand.

    I say this with all due respect: the hardest accent to understand for me is the black people in the US. To me it truly is a different language and I have been living in the US for more than a decade.

    How am I supposed to know that "packing heat" means the person is carrying a gun. And that is even without a different pronunciation. It is really very hard.

    I also speak other languages and I think English variants are not that difficult, but French, Spanish and especially Japanese are in a league of their own.
     
  22. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #22
    indeed, Taggart could have used subtitles.....especially when it was broadcast outside the UK.

    As far as the toughest accent to understand, a few years ago I traveled from Ireland to Northern Ireland and then on to Scotland......the first and last weren't particularly difficult but I don't think I understood a single word of what anybody said in Northern Ireland
     
  23. Scepticalscribe Contributor

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    #23
    Yes, must agree with you that the Northern Ireland accent is quite unique, somewhat impenetrable, (and, even within that, also has strong sub-regional variations).
     
  24. Zenithal macrumors 68040

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    #24
    Add Essex's dialect to that short list. Not difficult to comprehend. Does make your ears bleed, though.
     
  25. Scepticalscribe Contributor

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    #25
    Agreed. Not really much of a fan of the Essex accent.
     

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