Do Accents Make Workers Seem Less Credible?

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Like we mentioned a few weeks ago, communication is tough. Whether you just can’t seem to find the right words to express yourself, or you’re in a different country and forget the translation for “where’s the bathroom?” life gets complicated when you can’t communicate clearly.

To only add to the nuances of everyday communication, it appears that the ability to clearly express ourselves plays an important role in our perceived credibility — at least when it comes to our accents.

A recent study done by the University of Chicago found that native English speakers view those with a foreign accent as being less trustworthy.  The study found that the dialect distrust was not due to prejudice, but because those with accents were harder to understand. Participants in the study reported a small, yet definitive difference, between the believability of trivia statements  read by native versus non-native English speakers.

On a believability scale of 1 to 10, the statements read by native English speakers were rated at a 7.5, while those read by speakers with a slight accent were rated at a 6.95, and speakers with a heavy accent were given a truthfulness rating of 6.84. It seems that the harder it is for us to understand someone, the less likely we are to trust what they’re saying.

The results of the study may prove alarming for workers and job-seekers with accents.

According to a University of Chicago press release on the study, “Accents might reduce the credibility of non-native job seekers.” Which in turn may make it more difficult for job-seekers with accents to land a job.

Though blatant accent discrimination is part of Title VII (the title of The Civil Rights Act that addresses equal opportunity employment) and is addressed in the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission compliance manual, it is also specified that there are legitimate, business-related reasons for companies to require workers to speak clear English. Meaning that while it is illegal for employers to discriminate against workers with accents, they can legally choose not to hire a worker with an accent if it will interfere with the person’s ability to effectively do the job.

According to the compliance manual “Because linguistic characteristics are a component of national origin, employers should carefully scrutinize employment decisions that are based on accent to ensure that they do not violate Title VII.”

Though the article does go on to clarify that “An employment decision based on foreign accent does not violate Title VII if an individual’s accent materially interferes with the ability to perform job duties.”

But what about the regional accents here in the U.S.?  We have dozens of regional dialects, from the Southern drawl, to the Texas twang, to the “Joisey” accent, to MinneSOOHta and Boston’s “pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd.” Aren’t these regional dialects just as difficult to understand? (As someone who went to college in Boston, let me say I had just as hard a time deciphering my professors’ Boston accents as I did high school math teacher’s Russian one.)

How do you feel about accents (of all kinds) in the workplace? Have you ever been misunderstood at work because of your accent? Let us know in the comments section, below.

619 Comments
      • I have lived in the US for decades but somehow still have an English accent.I am frequently congratulated on my lovely accent as if it is some kind of party trick I employ.People say that they love to listen to me and that I speak so wonderfully.In fact I have a very working class London accent really nothing to boast about.I sometimes reply to my admirers “I don’t have an aceent but you do!”(they don’t always get it).My American daughter is less impressed with my accent and will correct my pronunciaction of Tomatoes etc.When she was little she used to ask “when will you learn to speak properly?”.Probably never oh well!

        • Could have written your letter myself – I empathise with so much that you say, especially about their thinking it’s some kind of party trick here in America. People often say, you don’t sound like Michael Caine. No, although born in Hackney, E.London, as was Michael, I spent several years of grammar school elocution lessons being forced to lose that accent. English teacher said I’d get a better job if I lost the cockney. I think she was right in that in England they are even more conscious of and discriminating about regional accents. But I have an idea that Michael Caine has done better than I ever did in the job market.

        • E sweet, you have me laughing with your posting. I spoke the Queen’s English (was from Singapore and dont speak Singlish), and have changed my accent to be more American for the past 22 years, kind of a mixed of Joisey and Brooklyn tri state area accent. Still, some people know that I am not native here (unless I speak to a non-native person). But when I was in Singapore, my friends said that I sound American. So, it depends on who you communicate with. We may never be able to change completely.

        • I can relate. I am an Aussie and have lived in the USA for 7 years now. I think people appreciate an accent as long as they can understand you, and I have found that I have had to slow my speech down on purpose so that people here in the South can understand me.!

        • I’m American and lived in Yorkshire in England for several years. I too got comments of “Your accent is lovely!” I did have a lot of difficulty understanding the butcher’s heavy North Yorkshire accent but he had such high quality product that it was worth it!

        • Oh, same here! I was born and raised in Surrey and have a very working class accent, yet people in America always tell me they like my accent. I told my bank cashier last week that actually I speak the Queen’s English and it is she who has the accent. Everyone laughed. While I have no difficulty understanding Southerners (I currently live in Louisiana) I had an awful time understanding people when I lived in the northwest, and I think it is because they speak as though they are paid by the word.

      • As a legal immigrant, I can tell you that looking different, having an accent can make life miserable. When you come here, just the fact that you look different can cause a mental barrier. To add to it if you can’t communicate properly due to accent, you are always mistrusted. However, gradually you have to overcome your communication. While there is nothing you can do about your looks; there’s plenty you can do with your accent. I am now a successful American. So if you are reading this, you can be successful too….

      • I have trouble with accents too, I was born here in the usa, but my first language was spanish because my parents are immigrants and did not speak english very well, so when i learned english in school it became difficult for me to understand both languages, I look to speak more english at home and work but at home sometime we speak spanish because we are already use to it. I was told by a professor in a communications class that i could never work in the american market because of my accent and it really made me feel unamerican because i grew up here my life story is here and for him to tell I could never in there just really discourged me. So I never got into working where i wanted because of my accent and my grammar in the english language didn’t work very well untill i learned more english and writing in college and I still today have an accent but I live with it, it can be problem at work but sometimes it can hard for people to understand or it can be a good thing to put on your resume.

    • People judge others by their accent and this happened so many times with me. I am living here for 25 years and came to US when I was 5 years old. Unfortunately people mistreat me the minute they hear my foreign accent. Its a shame that you are judged by your accent and not by your knowledge, skills or ability to perform different tasks.

      • You’ve lived in the US for 25 years, went through the education system and you STILL have an accent? Wow, I’m impressed!

        • Maxine1958, I agree. Accents come from hearing the way people talk. Living among the rest of us for 25 years and they kept their accents? Someone didn’t get out much…..And before people reply about this, it’s proven that if you move to (lets say) Texas within a year, believe me, people back home will notice your new accent. You don’t mean to do it, it just comes natural.

          • Essentially, if an individual grew up in a different country, accent is something that is simply attached to you forever. I’ve been here for 8 years already, that’s a third of my entire life, and I still have a slight accent, not as much as it was 8 years ago..but to ask somebody to get rid of her/his own accent is technically impossible unless you’ve lived in the second country since early in your childhood. Would you believe that an US born person, who moves to London and lives in London for say 10 years will speak just like anybody else in London? you can practice their pronunciation, but there will be always something about the way you sound… People should read more about international culture, sociology, linguistics, etc, before making uninformed comments, Agree? And for those who still don’t get it, try to live in another country, maybe then it will be easier to understand.

              • Anglo countries are much more lenient about accents in general, but every other country most likely isn’t. If an American or British, or whatever Anglified person tries speaking Chinese languages, Japanese languages, Malayo-Polynesian languages, Turkic languages, dialects of Arab, Indo-Aryan/Indo-Iranian languages, Bantu languages, etc. in any accent other than what is regionally or nationally acceptable, they are probably going to be completely disrespected and insulted much more frequently than anyone from those countries trying to use English without bothering to learn native English accents. And it’s also because of some kind of national origin or ethnic/tribal pride and zeal which they either extend to their English-speaking without putting much thought into it, or they actually have ideological nationalist reasons behind it.

            • Bravo!! I will add it is who you are and what makes you different. The Chinese surpass Americans in everything they do, yet they HAVE an accent. Would you not let a surgeon operate on you because he has an accent?? Would you not let a nurse treat your wound because of her accent? Of course not….Knowledge is knowledge in any language.

            • I 100% agree with, Shey. I thiink the main problem, too is ignorance. People who haven’t experienced living outside the US will never think & feel the same way as people who have lived on both or many more places in the world. These people tend to be more diversed & tolerant of other people’s culture because they have been educated by living in a foreign land through association. I’ve been in the US since 1985 & I noticed that some Americians tend to be selective of what accents they would prefer to hear or be acceptable to their hearing. The acceptance also depends on the origin of that accent. I hear some Americans say to a French “you’re accent is so cute & so romantic” as compared to other people from other parts of the world who are saying the same thing. You know what I mean??? It’s sad, but this topic will always touchy no matter how one would like to look at it….I wish some people will be more accepting & tolerant of one another :-)….

              • The sounds of language are different. It makes sense that similar sounding languages to your native tongue are less jarring to your senses as background noise. As a service engineer I have found that spending months on end by yourself in foreign countries is easier to handle when the white noise of the language around you has similar origins. Since my native tongue is of Indo-European origin, languages like Spanish and Italian are more soothing to hear than Chinese or Japanese.

                I live in Sweden and can speak Swedish, French and English. English is my mother tongue, but when I speak Swedish to Swedes, it is apparent that I am not a local. About 50% of the time they automatically switch to English whenever a foreign accent of any kind is detected. However, a hot topic of political conversation is that foreigners never learn Swedish, which I find ironic since so many Swedes will not speak Swedish to foreigners who are trying to integrate. So Americans, don’t get a complex about the diversity and acceptance level of Euro countries. Swedes for example are not so different.

          • There are other factors which contributes to having accent regardless of how long you lived in certain country. They might speak their native language at home or with the families, all the time. Or they didn’t attended a good school where they help students who have English as their second language.
            Judging people by their heritage or race or religion is always been there but in this 21st century, we judge people by their accent is so Childish.

          • FLReader : First of all, you say “comes NATURALLY” NOT “comes NATURAL.” So you were born and raised here, and haven’t grasped the concept of the difference between adverbs and adjectives? Sounds like someone else didn’t get out much. Moving from one region of a country to another is QUITE different than moving to an entirely different country where a different language is spoken. I wouldn’t expect you to understand that anyway.

            My two cents: as long as you can clearly communicate with others, an accent shouldn’t be an issue. If it is, people are flat out discriminating against you. If you can’t communicate well, no big deal, take a few more english classes and get up to speed. It’ll help you more than anyone else.

          • Just because you live somewhere for a period of time doesn’t mean you’ll lose your native accent. If you came to the U.S. at age 13 or higher, you’ll most likely retain your accent to varying degrees even if you get out a lot. This will be the case especially if you speak your native language with family and friends on a regular basis. Being able to speak and understand two or more languages is a skill worth having.

            Whoever does speak a different language along with American English has an advantage in the ever growing global market place.

        • Accent does not go away. Not unless you get here in America in a very young age like 6, 7, 8, or 9 years old at least. But if you get here at the age of 21 at least, you will not lose your accent.

          • I disagree. My husband came to the US when he was 21 and has been here for 15 years now. He now longer has an accent. People think that he grew up in the US. Some people are able to adapt more and are more intuitive to their surroundings, especially when it comes to language. When he first came to the US he quickly corrected himself if he found that he was mispronouncing a word.

            • Sally, for what you say it seems that you husband may have come to the US from another English-speaking county. When your mother tongue is another language, correcting yourself when you find you are mispronouncing a word doesn’t work, smply because that sound may not exist in your mother tongue. You can exercise and make improvements over time, but after a certain age there are some sounds you just won’t be able to reproduce like a native speaker.

            • btw i meant “amen”to Reynaldo Timones – everyone else who thinks you dont have an accent … think again. We ALL do!

        • your accent does not deminish, because you go through the eductaional system. goes to show, what you knowm, and yes i was born in another country and a us citizen.

        • wow… i can’t believe you just posted that. Within the United States people have reginal accents, is not just foreign ones, you know. To name a few Bostanian accent, NewYorker, southern… the reality is that if you have an accent,you must be proud of it! it lets everyone else know that you speak more than one language therefore already have the upper hand in communication.

        • I’m a US citizen born in Europe. I will have my accent as long as I live. It is a part of my life, my personality and my charm.

          Have you ever try to learn other language, beside American English?

          When a person learns, or attempts to learn, a “second” language (American English is a fifth [5] language for me), at that time this person often is granted the tolerance of others and the joy of conquering and learning something new.

        • Yes , you are impressed because apparnently you have not read the research on language adquisition, and how the brain works with impresion of sound translated as accecnt. Adquirering a language it is more complicated than american people wants to admiit. That why the rest of the world speak more than one or two languageges. They know learning a new language actualy make you smarter ( As the research has shown). Educating your self on this matter will alloud you to, instead of be jugdmental and apprehensive, understanding and appreciative of other people strengh.

            • It is my firm belief that a person’s written opinions are taken much more seriously when that person takes the time and makes the effort to spell properly and use correct grammar. Therefore, many of these posts are completely dismissed out of hand.

        • If a person who’s greatgrand father was even born in Boston can have an accent, why can’t a person with only 25 year …!!!

          All those Japanese run companies, entrepreneurs from China and India employing hundreds of Amercians have accent.

          All US native english speakers have an accent in U.K.

        • Maxine 1958,
          I wonder how soon do you think your accent will change if you travelled out of US and especially to a Eastern country like China or India? And then how will that new accent received back at home?

          Also if you give up the notion that ‘different is necessarily wrong’ then you will find it very easy to understand any accent from any part of the world.

        • I’ve been living in the US for 11 years now. However, I started learning English when I was 32. I can communicate well. Also I went to college in the US. I have an accent (impossible not to, when your tongue and face muscles were already developed to speak your mother language). I have a hard time to understand foreigners speaking English. When I receive calls from costumer’s services in India, I explain to them that it’s difficulty for me to understanding them. Sometimes they are nice, but most of the times they are rude. Oh well.

        • Yes, some people like me, even we can still having accent. I have italian blood, and it’s not easy to get rid off. But I can do very well, and do you know my dear lady? I don’t make fun of other accents, as you do, because I have a good education and I make good money. Some people forgot my accent through my detailed and excellent performance at work. What about accents from different regions of USA? I saw people making fun of a blonde girl from New Orleans, and from other from Georgia, and I was the first one to comfort them when the jokes went a little out of control.

        • It’s True… I came to the US when I was 10yrs old and I’ve been here for the past 18yrs, I still have my southamerican accent when I speak English but it’s not as heavy as it used to be. I am conscious of my accent but it doesn’t get in the way with my employer or my career goals.

        • Maxine1958, one other thing to note is it depends on how old you were when you moved to a region wherein people spoke with a different accent. If a 10 year old child moves from somewhere in Africa to the US with his highly educated 40 year old father, in another 10 years their accents would be significantly different. Tha father would still sound ‘African’ and the child would probably have an American accent.

        • You mean “I have lived here for 25 years” or “I’ve been living here for 25 years”. If by here you mean the US, then I am sorry to hear that not only did you keep the accent, but also didn’t learn how to put words together. Fascinating. The US education system is failng the people, and in time the people will fail their country.

        • My mother was a war-bride from Scotland. When my father died (I was young) we went to live in Scotland until I was 13, then moved to Chicagoland. I still have a Scots accent with burrrs on the Rrrrs after HS & college here, as well as a 20 year career in the US Navy. I have no doubt people notice my accents but most say nothing. There seems to be an age between 8 and 12 when an accent will “stick.” My companion, from the Azores, came to the US at age 8 and has no accent. I do notice my accent accentuates when I am upset and it can become nearly incomprehensibly Aberdonian. Nevertheless, I am an American (born in Normal, IL in 1955) by birth, service, and temprement. When my companion naturalized, the first words said after the citizenship ceremony were: “Now I am no longer Portuguese; now I am an American of Portuguese descent!” Neither my employer (UPS) nor my co-workers think I am an idiot, nor did the US Navy, having invested me with a high-level security clearance during my career. In fact, I notice many people I worked with over the years have adopted my “verbal tic” of saying a gutteral “och!” when astounded or bemused.

      • I honestly think that this report is just a way to create more prejudices among people. Accents are cute and project culture. Every person has an accent, even the person that wrote this article. We cannot relate the lack of succeed or the lack of getting a job because of an accent. A great example that accents does not represent a barrier to achieve a goal or getting a job, is the governor of California; Arnold Schwarzenegger. A Job is base on knowledge, skills and personality, good communication, not base on an accent. There are people that have great communication skills with accents, and we also have the opposite, people that express well but do not have any communication skills. Work hard to achieve your goals, and learn new languages to teach culture and to understand society. Accents are interesting. As long the person can communicate well enough to perform a task, is good enough to find a job and to be proactive.
        To the writer of this article: Do me a favor, write something more productive and positive. Try to learn a new language, which will enable you to understand where the accents are coming from and why there are so unique.

        • My husband is from Germany one of the MOST efficient/hard-working country’s in the world, he graduated w/ a masters in business and has been an entrepreneur at a very young age. He just arrived here 6 months ago and is still having a hard time finding a job. I think this article is more than relevant for his situation! I believe his accent is the only thing impeding him. To those of you posting about people using their lack of “english” to get away with incompetence, you are beyond ignorant! Just because you grow up in this country does NOT mean you are an expert at speaking the english language. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard Americans butchering their own language! What this article states is simple, accents are seen as a problem in some job settings (whether justified or not) and one should be aware.

        • JS, I agree with your thoughts on this article. There are many born Americans who have rcieved their education under US educational system and yet their accents are worse than those non-english speaking workers. The article speaks about credibility and trusthworthiness of job seekers whose accents are problematic in terms of expressing oneself in the working place. If the bases of being credible and trusworthy to get a job is your accents and not according to your ability, skills and talents to do the job, what will happen to our business industry? No doubt, there are applicants who had been hire because their accents are cute, they could communicate well during the interview but they lazy, lack of skills and knowledge to do the job. If am the boss, I will base the credibility and trustworthiness of an applicant from his or her skills, knowledge,experience and personality. The reason why Bill Gates hires workers from India, Philippines and Korea because these workers know their job and not because their beautiful , american accents. Workers from India,Philippines and Korea have a very bad accents but they can communicate very well as they do their job.

          • @ed amawas: Are you kidding? Bill Gates hires workers from India, Philippines and Korea because they are dirt cheap!! Not because they know their job! They suck at their jobs because they can not communicate properly and do nothing but frustrate American consumers. They, (unlike an American), will accept 50 cents an hour.. THAT’S why US companies hire people from countries like that! WAKE UP! The worst part of buying a Dell computer is that you have to deal with Indians who can’t speak engish (and are too lazy to learn it) every time you need a repair… But when you call to BUY a Dell, the salesmen are all American.. go figure…

        • I was born in Mexico and came to the United States when I was 12 years old. I went to college and landed a very good job in a border town. 93% of the population there are Hispanics, so an accent was not a big deal. However, I just moved to Chicago and I have been looking for a job for one month now. I had about 10 interviews, but no offers yet. Maybe it is my accent? I don’t know, but I am not giving up. I bought a few books about how to interview effectively. Wish me luck!

      • I came here when I was 36, so I understand your frustration. Language and people skills are more important than a master or ph D degree.

        • People and communication skills are way more important than a maters or PHD. And I have a masters degree. If you cannot communicate with your customers and colleges then no level of education is important. You many have great ideas and a lot of good information in your head, but if you can’t express it clearly in a way that others can understand, it is essentially worthless. I moved from northern Iowa into Minnesota at the age of 25 and within a year my family noticed certain works in which I had a new accent on… I think clear communication can be learned with practice. If you have an accent that you can’t change, just practice clear communication. In my experience it is people to speak one way at home and another way at work are the ones who struggle. Of course it is going to be hard going back and forth all the time. Practice, practice practice. If you only put half effort into your eduction, where would that get you? Clear communication is no different.

      • Some states frown on people with a slang or drawl. I have been labeled as almost a foreigner when working in Colorado. With a slight drawl, I have been asked, “Your not from here, are you”?. I tell them, I am from here, an American citizen, just as you are….get over it!

      • This is not true. I work with 2 young men (in their 20′s) that are from India and have only been in the US for a couple of years. If you did not know this, you would guess that they were born in the US. They speak perfect English with little to no accent.

      • I am hearing inpaired. I wear hearing aids in both ears and with them I able to hear just fine. However, I have much difficulty hearing accents-any accent. I am US born and heard/soke English and Spanish at home. My primary language is English but still speak Spanish when needed. I have difficlty understanding Spanish and English accents (i.e. southern accents). So, much of this issue is not about not accepting someone because of an accent or not knowing much about other cultures. It is just a very practical issue.

    • So you are not shopping for whatever you need but the person whose speak to you? Hmm, have you ever been to another country and try to speak their language (either you are on a business trip or vacation)? Let not hastily judge other b4 you look at yourself.

      • This is not about visiting country. There are people in positions (in this country) where they are in charge of others. I have personly seen them involved in directing wrong procedures and being called out on it. They then blam it on translation problems to pass the buck. This IS a problem when they try to hide their incompetenct because their lack of English.

        • Ok- I need to say that – funny, how people complain about accents, but it is ok to have bilingual signs all over the country. Lets penalize those who actually made an effort to fit in the society, and give the priviliges to those who do not care. I was born in Europe, came to USA at the age of 26. My accent used to be very heavy despite studying the language in school for 8 years (prior to my arrival here). It has improved a lot, but I know I will never loose it. I became US Citizen a couple years ago, and I am absolutely proud of it. If I had a choice of getting rid of my accent – I would have done it, just to fit in better. Hate to say that, but I need to work harder than my native colleagues to prove myself, especially when I deal with more close minded individuals.

      • its just ignorance, Americans are lucky to be treated in a good manner while they are in a foreign country!! but with the time they would feel the same thing whenever English would become unpopular while other countries grow and get more power science etc especially Asian countries. english would be just in the US, British people are very open minded…

      • I get so sick of people who think that because they can speak more than one language that they are somehow smarter and about others. But yet they don’t seem to want to stay with the rest of the ” smarter people” in their own country. Food for thought.

      • A lot of Americans are close-minded. I would like to see them go to another country, work there while speaking a new language. It happens VERY RARELY.

      • I know right? lol some peolple just don’t get it – having an accent dosen’t mean you are unintelligent…. For example – I’m Russian, born in Russia, graduated from University in Russia (Linguistics Faculty) – since I’m married to an American my accent diminished a lot though is still there and will be, BUT there is a big “but” there – accent or not I’m positive I know English better then most people ( for example my boss only trusts me with spell checking :)
        So as we say in Russia before noticing a speck in someone’s eye – get rid of a log in yours XD

    • Yes, people are cruel….i been talking with some people and because my accent they ask me if i can talk in english even when i am doing so…How about the ones that comment: i hardly can hear you i have some hearing problem

    • I grew up with two parents of two diffferent nationalities. My dad, who was born and raised in Jordan, spoke English with an Arabic accent and his
      English teacher was a Scotsman, hence he pronounced the word “heard”, as
      “here’d”. I still thought he had a cool accent. My mom has a slight New
      England accent. My sisters and I each have a different accent, but that
      is just fine with me.

      By the way, I used to work for a tour operator/travel agency where I spoke
      English mostly because they needed a native English speaker. Sometimes, not everyone I was on the phone with about my computer could understand my
      American accent.

    • I grew up in Brazil. However my family moved to the US whe I was fourteen, it was a hard transition for me but I survived. I had a bad expirience in High School for my accent. I remember the looks, when I had to read something in front of the class. Today I”m woking as an office assitent, and sometimes I still say some words with accents and I can see and feel the way people look at me. One day I was explaining to a patience that she couldn’t be seen by the doctor because he was booked for the day. She began yelling at me, saying that she couldn’t understand me, and the doctor saw all what she was doing and took her in to be seen immediately. It was very unffair to all the patients that had an appointment booked and had to wait for her. She did undertand me clealy, but she did that just so the doctor would that her in and see her.

      I speak English, Spanish and Portgues and I am very proud of that. The ability to learn other language, takes timeand dedication, everyday is a new challenge, but I always see it as a victory for all I have achived throughout the years. People that think that an accent is bad should think a little more, of how hard a person is trying, what they went trough. Today I’m glad i didn’t give up, just because people laughed, it gave me strengh to fight and get where I had my eyes set on a better future.

    • I’m not certain where the perception that people from NJ say “Joisey” comes from but I’ll assure you we don’t sound like that. Approximately 90 years ago in Bergen County (Far Northeastern corner of the state) recent transplants from NYC had an accent that was mocked by the local populace which resulted in the misconception that people from NJ say “Joisey” but that was 90 years ago! Granted, a large percentage of people living in the northern half of the state could be mistaken for New Yorkers but the southern half of the state displays an accent more closely associated with Philadelphia….i.e. wooder (water), hoeme (emphasis on the o). I know this is a rant but isn’t NJ’s name tattered enough due to the Jersey Shore cast (only 1 of which is actually from NJ, I believe)

    • I have had a problem at the drive-thur. If I can’t understand what is said I call the corporate office and complain. What’s the sense if you can’t understand each other? The business usually understands and puts the worker in another position.

    • I agree that it is almost impossible to get rid of a foreign accent. I think that this should not be a disadvantage as long as the the person speaks a grammatically correct English and is easy to understand. I find that many Americans completely destroy their native language by ignoring basic grammar rules (e.g.: “who’s” for “whose”, “your” for”you’re” , “should have went” for “should have gone”, and the list goes on forever). If a person can speak and spell correctly, the accent is acceptable. In most cases, the knowledge of another language can play an important role in finding a job.

    • This is a very interesting subject. I grew up in Africa and lived in England for 10 years before coming to America. There has been mixture of accents here. I have been in US for the past 9 years and yet all I here from people whenever I speak is, ‘I love your accent’, yet when I try to carry on a meaningful conversation with people you will hear words like, ‘what u say, speak English, etc. Especially at work. No matter how good I am at my job, my boss will make fun of me for my accent and this has affected the opportunities to grow with the company. Accent is your mother tongue, be it Chinese, Japanese, American, African, German, English, etc. Wherever you were born or raised, you adopt that accent. It goes with you everywhere. Think of what big businesses are doing now. You pick up a phone to call Dell, and someone in India, Pakistan, and everywhere but US is on the other line trying to resolve your concern. What has accent got to do with that? I think Title VII – Civil Right Act should prosecute employers who disciminate employees because of their accent. Variety is the spice of life. Whenever people make fun of my accent, I always tell them, ‘I have international accent, what is yours’? Especially in the US where we preach diversity, this should include rich local and international accents.

    • I struggle with accents. I have an auditory processing disorder due to Post Concussion Syndrome (had too many mostly very mild concussions over 45 year span). I can either try to decipher the accented words or make sense of the sentences, not both. I have noticed many elderly people struggling to understand heavy accents. They appear to be having a similar struggle.

      Often, I will ask to speak to someone who speaks English as their mother tongue. Many will get offended and call me racist. Some have even hung up. Others have corrected their accent to a more understandable level. Sometimes, I will finally get an English speaker. It should not be so difficult.

      What many don’t understand is the extra brain power it takes to understand accent laden speech. There are programs specifically designed to help persons correct their foreign accents to a US based dialect/accent.

  1. sure. if you have a northern accent, you are an a-hole. if you have a southern accent, you are an inbred idiot. and if you have a foreign accent, you are a terrorist!

    just kidding. don’t rip my head off.

  2. as a short, blond southern female i have unfortunatly noticed a powerful tendancy for my male employers to talk to me like im either an idiot or a child. then i took a short acting course at my local collage and conciously trained out my accent. it was only weeks later that i was offered a permanent position in a major telecomunications firm. one of the reasons stated for my highering, my ability to speak clearly and with no discernable accent. training out a strong accent can be very benificial irreguardless what region of the country you live in.

    • I don’t mean to sound like a critic but I think you got the job for your looks and not your accent. I mean you mispelled at least 4 words…

      • I think that clear communication is a given, obviously, if we can’t understand what’s being said we can’t communicate. But many as soon as they hear an accent, they shut down and won’t even make a little effort to understand the other person who has an accent.
        All I have to say about that is: At least the person with the accent is smart enough to learn a second languaje. and I would love to see an ALL AMERICAN pronounce “las ruedas del ferrocarril” without an accent.
        And to those with an accent, sometimes you try so hard to sound “American” that you won’t slow down and anouce your words correctly.
        This is not just about discriminating against people with accents, is about understanding each other, both parties must do an effort.

      • “irregardless” is non-standard,double negative and erroneous form – stay away from using it. Excepting some, most native English speakers have a very poor command of their English composition.

      • Kelly, if her job is to speak then why is it such a big deal that she misspelled a few words? I am also from the South and the schools do not put such an emphasis on spelling anymore. She simply spelled how most southerners do, they spell the word as it sounds. This particular forum does not have a spell check as do most other programs so ease up a little.

        Sorry but that is a pet peeve of mine, if one can understand the message being conveyed, then what does spelling have to do with anything?

      • Ten misspelled words to be exact. I not i; unfortunately not unfortunatly; tendency not tendancy; I’m not im; consciously not conciously; telecommunications not telecomunications; hiring not highering; beneficial not benificial; regardless not irreguardless.

        I have an accent. I came to the USA ten years ago. English is my third language, and Spanish is my mother tongue. It is ludicrous to think that an employer will hire someone that only speak one language and doesn’t have full command of it v.s someone that speaks several languages, have a full command of English but have an accent.
        FYI: EVERYONE has an accent. There is not such thing as a neutral, accent free speaker! It is very much subjective.

      • Nice one! I have an accent and people often judge me for it. I do not care most of the time. Some people like my accent, some hate it. I cannot please everyone. So, I am just myself! If you like me, great! If you do not, who cares!? It is not the end of the world…

        It is stupid to judge people for their looks, accent, age, etc… It is called discrimination.

    • Maybe being short and blonde actually had nothing to do with it. Could it possibly have been grammer, such as “irregardless?” Just saying….

    • @ Erika: it’s regardless…not irreguardless (don’t know where this word originated, but it’s incorrect English) Not trying to insult, just clarify word usage.

      • Wow, you just corrected the spelling of a non-existent word. Can you also divide by zero?

        I can’t believe the number of people on here who think “irregardless” is a word. Hooray for literacy, I guess.

        • Irregardless is an informal term commonly used in place of regardless or irrespective, which has caused controversy since it first appeared in the early twentieth century. Most dictionaries list it as “nonstandard” or “incorrect”. (source Wikipedia)

    • @ Mimi
      why does everything have to be turned into a racial issue or excuse to lash out at ‘whites’; i find your remarks ridiculous. stick to the subject. we ALL have accents from different cultures. Does the fact that i am from the mediterranean make me say that i’m a fish-loving olive oil smothered fool to some people? NO. So get bloody get over it.

    • erika,

      As you’ve found, it’s entirely possible to modify your accent if the situation warrants. If you listen to the foreign actresses Marina Sirtis and MIra Furlan when they are out-of-character, their accents are extremely strong, but they both modify their accents in to fit their roles. The reverse of this is Kira Sedgwick, who does not have much of an accent, but adopts a strong southern one to fit her current character. If we’ve willing to train our talents/skills and dress in business clothes to be successful, why not be willing to work on an extremely strong accent as well?

    • Erika
      Unfortunately, you still spell like a stereotypical dumb southern blonde, who never went to “collage.”
      It’s college, and telecommunications, and hiring, and beneficial, and irregardless which is the wrong word, should have been regardless.
      Good luck hanging on to that job you can’t even spell…and I bet you never would guess I have a strong Boston accent from this communication!!

      • Terri,

        Illiteracy is worldwide and not just in the southern United States. I know people from Boston that can’t spell. I am from the south and never went to college. What is funny is that people ask me if I am an English Major. You obviously don’t get out much….

        I do have a question for you. Did you know that a comma takes the place of the word “and”? “It’s college, and telecommunications, and hiring, and beneficial, and irregardless which is the wrong word, should have been regardless.” Wow!

        Take a vacation…maybe to the south. You might like it :)

      • My honest hope is that this Big Name Telecommunications firm that has hired this little Southern blonde woman is reading this and identifying her as their employee. Much hope that her big pay check job will be taken from her and a competent person (man or woman) will be in that position and that the little Southern blionde woman will be back to doing the employment she had been doing before. Now, whether she was doing it competently or not is that employers decision to make.

    • erika, it’s apparent your ability to spell correctly didn’t influence the decision to promote you. but congrats on getting rid of the heavy southern drawl.

    • Got back for follow-up training in english…there is no such word as irregardless. It is just plain regardless. (It is like saying “I will not not do that…double negative)

    • you may speak clearly now, but your spelling still leaves much to be desired:

      highering, should be “hiring”
      irregaurdless is not a word. the word is “regardless”

      and you work in telecommunications? wow.

    • I noticed in your comment, you misspelled “college” and “irregardless.” You also used the latter incorrectly…the word is “regardless” and it does not contain a ‘U.’ Perhaps you weren’t being mistreated b/c of your alleged accent and physical appearance…it would probably serve you best to improve your written communication skills…

    • Personally, I’d rather hire someone who can SPELL the English language and realizes that “irregarless” is not a word. Many people who know English as a second language can do that better than Americans.

      I highly doubt this is an issue of miscommunication, but rather a thinly veiled argument for racist behavior.

    • LOL! I’m guessing your spelling skills were not evaluated. I counted ten spelling errors and SEVERAL grammar FAILS.

      That made my day. I look forward to more posts by you.

    • Come on people, give the poor girl a break. She had a personal experience to share that related to the article. So she misspelled a few words. Maybe she was just in a hurry.

      • Exactly! Most of these people that can’t spell are pointing the finger at others that can’t spell. I think that is hillarious! A lot of redundancy too. Congratulations to Erika for the new job! Whatever it takes to get it, you did it. Who cares if you can’t spell? You obviously have other very valuable talents.

    • Ah, the spelling police–did you understand the person’s post? What difference does it make whether every word was spelled correctly? Sometimes these posts are written in haste–if my boss knew I was wasting time in this manner he might get upset. As a result, I occasionally type fast and make spelling errors. By the way, spelling is no way an indication of intelligence. One only needs to reference Jane Austin.

  3. Hey,I totally get it now.I am simply not to be trusted because I am black woman who doesn’t speak in Ebonics-why,I must come from a line of tree-dwelling cannibals who are raring to terrorize the American public. I almost have to apologize for having spent 25 years of my life abroad and therefore having the misfortune of having “an accent”. Most inconvenient….

    • The same goes for writing also. For whatever reason people think that using bigger words, or words not commonly used (like in a college essay), when posting on a blog comment makes them smarter. my favorite term is “utilize” when the word “use” is just the same, easier to say and spell as well.

  4. I go to this school where I have this schoolmate who does not only have an accent but you can not, I repeat….. can not understand what the heck he is saying ALL THE TIME. To top it all off, he does not even notice and he likes to talk all the time, he brags about everything, he is super eager-beaver, interrupts people, gives unsolicited advice, keeps correcting other people, is annoying, thinks he knows everything. This guy thinks he is the best! So, it it not just the accent for him, it is the ATTITUDE! Don’t get me wrong I am a non-native, too but no accent because I lived in a very westernized country.
    I guess he is trying to “over-compensate” because he knows he not only has an accent problem, he has a linguistics problem.

      • Ok now please explain us how do you know that he ” he brags about everything, he is super eager-beaver, interrupts people, gives unsolicited advice, keeps correcting other people, is annoying, thinks he knows everything” if you “can not understand what the heck he is saying ALL THE TIME”….
        and does he has only ONE “linguistics problem”?

  5. After I graduating from college in 2007, I went on a job hunt. Had several job interviews from telemarketing to customer service jobs. There was one that didn’t hire me because of my accent. He told another friend of mine who also came for an interview that he was concerned because he couldn’t understand my accent. I’m from The Bahamas and our native language is English. I currently work for LabCorp in North Carolina since 2008 and so far, my accent is not an issue with my co-workers.

    • I’ve had one recruiter tell me I sounded “too ethnic” … WTF does that mean!?!?

      I actually believed Americans hated anyone who does not speak like them until I met a senior vice president work for a fortune 500 AMERICAN corporation with not only a strong hispanic accent but he also stutters!

      and they told me ppl won’t be able to understand me because i sound ethnic??????

      gimme a break….

      smh … luckily I ran into smarter more intelligent people who were willing to hire someone for the value they will add to the organisation and not for how they look and speak.

    • Written, oral or gesture all part of a good communication skills is regarded highly in a workplace and one with all good skills will move up the ladder much faster in a corporate environment. Was previously in a corporate setting and i took the critisism negatively until now when i look back came to realization that i was being helped. So if you are one of the victim, take the critisism positively but do not settle for less if you can’t move up the ladder as fast if you have the opprtunity to do it alone, more likely, you will succeed which is what i did. I left corporate world and start out “solo” and the reward is enormous. I did not get carried away with the guarantee salary and big corporate environment. Just did not fit into the corporate profile but did exteremely well solo. Now I can actually boast that i did way much better than majority of my peers that were highly regarded then as “on-track”. Please don’t get me wrong it requires hard work and dedication whether you are working for someone or “your-self”. Hope, someone out there in similar situation can use this advise. keep your head above the water. its now 15 years since i left the corporate world but things couldn’t have been any better.

      • It’s not a mortal sin to use Spellcheck or a dictionary before posting, people!! The grammar and spelling I’ve seen here is atrocious!!

    • Hello B.J., I was born in Trinidad and our native tongue is English as well. I also had the experience of a co-worker saying to another in my presence “wa she sayin…?’” which I found to be very rude, and ignorant! (how about sitting in a classroom and educating that brain?) Very often, people are not aware that Caribbean is reputable for having a higher standard of education, which requires one to write/speak “proper” English- the Queen’s English. But again, since perception is everything people who are less educated than we are, assume that we are “dumb” or according to the article “less credible” thanks to our beautiful, different- and not an incomprehensible accent. I find this very disturbing since it is discrimination- don’t get me wrong, as you and I are fully aware, there are Caribbean natives who are difficult to understand but for the ones like you and I, I find it frustrating when people automatically put us into that bag of “clueless immigrants” especially since I successfully completed a graduate level degree, served in the U.S. Navy and have my own business! Need I say more? :-)

  6. Learning how to spell will take you even further. Maybe your grammar is what held you back and not your height, hair color or accent.

  7. I find (in the UK) the more serious/old fashioned the business the more accent matters. Even when someone is perfectly understandable. I knew some trainee lawyers and the girl from Liverpool was told to forget a court-room career by her lecturers. Doing her a favour I guess.

  8. I have been trying to get a job lately and thought maybe I was being held back due to my ex-wife. Now I know its just because Im lazy and have a small penis.

    Things can only get better.

  9. @Erika,
    I suggest learning how to SPELL in order to further in your position within this “major telecommunications firm”. Let me get you started:

    unfortunatly = unfortunately
    tendancy = tendency
    conciously = consciously
    telecomunications = telecommunications
    highering = hiring*
    benificial = beneficial
    irreguardless = irregardless
    *this was the best one, I must say

    The WRITTEN WORD is also a reflection of yourself.

      • From http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/irregardless:

        “Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that ‘there is no such word.’ There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use ‘regardless’ instead.”

    • You have to have a lousy life and really be a stick in the mud if you think the written word is a reflection of ones self. Mathematics is the single most important educational thing to learn. Math is used every day in life.

      • Math may be used in everyday life, but your speech and your appearance – not your math skills – are the benchmarks on which others base their first impressions.

    • Erica, I hate to point out that you spelled college (collage)… like a picture collage. I know everyone else has pointed out errors and this may be why you have struggled to advance.

    • @LilyB

      no such word as irregardless by the way. There is no perfect English with all these accents that are abound round the world. You are right though, in saying that if you can spell you know how to syllabicate and couple that with a good grammar, you will have a long way to go

    • Some of you are so hostile towards Erika for her spelling errors, but the majority of you are almost as bad as she is, with notable exceptions — Anchuelo, Roberta Montero, Sco, and Justathought. There is no such word as “irregardless.” It is redundant, and terrible slang The word is “regardless.”

      Jillington: The use of a preposition at the end of prepositional phrase is incorrect. “Held you back” should be followed by “from a job.” It should not be followed by “and.”

      LilyB: What you wrote was, “I hate grammatical errors too.” “Errors” should be followed by a comma. Do you also hate errors in punctuation?

      Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. The saddest part of this is that English is not my first language. It is my third, and my parents are immigrants.

      • Oh, and I do apologize for the missing period between “slang” and “The word.” My keyboard is not always cooperative, and the period button usually needs some coaxing.

          • :) I know what I wrote sounds terribly mean-spirited, and I do believe that the young lady needs some lessons in grammar and spelling, but it was like the blind trying to lead the blind. I got here when there were only 23 comments, and this has spiraled out of proportion.

            Everyone: computer writing programs have the grammatical-know how of the average, educated 10th grader. While I hope most of you know a bit more than the average 10th grader, it is expected that you have at least the grammatical skills of the average 10th grader. Unless you are younger. Then the question is, what are you doing home at this hour?

            And yes, let’s be best friends. Best notion I have heard all day. :D

    • “Irregardless” is, at best, a non-standard slang for “regardless,” and, at worst, not a word at all. Most professionals don’t consider it a word, much less let it into their vocabulary or hire someone who has. If you’re going to correct someone, you might as well correct them with the correct usage.

    • I was educated in an Eglish speaking country and spell words slightly differently (e.g. labour). This difference has not held me back at all. Yes I get some gentle ribbing but I consider that a compliment. My accent is well received even though I pronounce some words differently. Many have commented on how they like my accent so again another positive. Knowing your English is very important in my opinion, no matter from where you hail.

    • learning to spell a word that is incorrect to begin with seems a waste of time. ‘irregardless is just plain old ‘regardless’

    • “Regardless”, and NOT “Irregardless” Although this word is used often, it is not considered proper, and it has the same meaning of the correct word “Regardless”.

    • I hope Erica is not trying to make Southern people look bad by doing the spelling errors on purpose.

      I wear a hearing aid and trying to understand someone from India drives me insane. I usually hang up.

    • Spelling, Grammar, ability to speak with a clear and understandable Diction is all very important. Going into a career that requires an individual to speak, write, or communicate in a combination of styles in a coherent and clear manner is very important to getting certain jobs within that career done. It is very annoying to be calling a customer service hotline and find that the only staff on hand to talk to you are “foreign” sounding individuals who are difficult to understand and when you request to speak to someone in authority because you can not understand them 9 out 10 times the supervisor sounds even more “foreign” than the original individual you were speaking with. As for regional “accents” some of us, myself included, tend to “pick” up the regional accents and idioms of an area and it is difficult sometimes to turn this ability off. When you grow up in the Midwest you can have a variety of “accents” given to you through the hodgepodge of “accents” there in they region. I have been accused of sounding too “southern” by my northern friends and too “yankee” from my northern friends, but out in California no one could tell where I came from by my “accent”. Now that I live in Michigan again it is very hard for anyone to tell exactly what part of the country I am from because I have lived in so many different parts of this country that I am accused of having a “mixed accent” where certain words have a different pronunciation than others.

      • Boy am I having trouble this morning, in the above I meant the, instead of they, and I meant too “yankee” by my Southern friends… boy you can tell it is early in the morning.

    • Hi, LilyB!

      I looked up the definitions for “further” and “farther” – and I’m more confused than I was before!lol!

      Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary says:

      “Further”: 1) “Farther”, as in “My ponies are tired, and I have further to go.”
      2) in addition to, moreover.
      3) to a greater degree or extent, as in, “I was further annoyed by a
      second intrusion.”

      “Farther”: 1) at or to a greater distance or more advanced point, as in, “I got
      no farther than the first page,” or “Nothing could be farther from
      the truth.”
      2) to a greater degree or extent, as in, “See to it that I do not
      have to act any farther in the matter.”

      What I do is use “farther” when talking about distance, as in, “Just two miles farther and I’ll finish this race,” and use “further” when talking about advancing an idea/plan, as in, “She’s just using this incident to further her agenda.”

  10. Erika: I commend you for your diligence in
    improving your workplace skills. However, I
    suggest that you refrain from any written
    communications with your employers. You made so many errors in just a few sentences that I
    had to respond. Buy a dictionary! Mistakes:
    ‘tendancy’ ‘highering’ ‘benificial’
    ‘irregardless’ (not a word) You meant ‘tendency’ ‘beneficial’ and ‘hiring’
    and one more correction that won’t fit here.

    had

    • I left the comment to Lily B concerning Erika’s lack of spell check, but nobody cares. Do you think every time you write words it comes out perfect? so your lucky, you have a built in spell check into firefox +1

      • “You’re” not “your.”

        “You’re” is the contraction for “you are.”

        “Your” is the possessive form of “you.”

        Too bad no one has come up with “GrammarCheck” yet because we sorely need it!

  11. @Anchuelo & RobertaM,
    Yes, “irregardless” is technically not a real word because of the two negatives (ir- and -less). But it IS used by some (and it may even be in the newer dictionaries) and the correct spelling is “irregardless” not “irreguardless”.

  12. My then 3 year old child needed speach therapy. I told the teachers please do not correct the dropping of the (th) sound and replacing it with a (d) sound in his speach as this is the local cajun way of speaking. Example is the now famous WHO DAT!

  13. Anchuelo | Aug 17, 2010 | Reply

    ‘irregardless’ is not even an actual proper word.

    If I ever hear someone say this, they are certainly not getting my respect, let alone a job.

  14. Irregardless is an informal term meaning regardless or irrespective, which has caused controversy since it first appeared in the early twentieth century. Most dictionaries list it as “incorrect” or “nonstandard”.

    –Wikipedia

  15. As long as you are understable and your grammar is correct, I don’t think it hurts, and I think it helps, as employers (public & private sectors) are anxious to demonstrate they do not discriminate. For the first time in 19 years I lost my job, and I have to admit accents are beginning to irk me, especially if it’s a government worker and/or a worker in a job that is not in high demand. I was born here and possess both education and experience. Why is an immigrant (legal or not) or someone with a work visa employed, and I’m not? Are they hired because they’re cheaper?

    • Maybe they are more educated than you are and thereby better qualified for certain jobs?… You better work on self-development if you are that uncomfortable with seeing immigrants being employed while you are not.

    • Thanks, GK for being honest about feelings about accents – yes, those with foreign accents who are employed today (while you are not) are cheaper. That has become the corporate mantra now to profitability in a totally in-your-face manner. Some companies are even demanding that employees take a pay cut to keep their jobs! Welcome to the new America, i.e., USA.

    • Wahhhh! The reason they’re hired is because they’ll ACTUALLY do the job. Something tells me that even if given the opportunity, you still wouldn’t accept a job beneath your “education.” And I do use that term loosely.

    • I feel sorry, GK, that you blame your lack of a job to immigrants with an accent. I’ve been living in the UK for two years now, and despite having education I am still to land a job. A government worker who happens to be an immigrant won’t ‘cheaper’ to hire– that is nonsense. Maybe it’s time to expand your horizons, get some additional training to add to your résumé and keep applying? How about learning Spanish? That would make you more prone to be hired.

    • GK…don’t be irked.

      The employed individual you see on your way down is really (prior) you on your ascent. Willing to use 2 or 3 job opportunties they don’t like, while paying for college/family, just to dream American.

      Maybe you should ask her for advice…using your best educated, experienced voice of course.

    • If you are asking that question, i believe i have the answer…he is smarter than you.
      Do you know what it takes to leave your country to get a better life?…exactly…big ones.
      That’s why we get hired…

    • with visa or legal they are not “cheaper” by law they are protected to received the same pay as a citizen. illegal are cheaper because employers does not require to declare these employees, they do not have papers and they are being pay under the table. In government they usually use people that speak more than one language to help those that just came, visas for work, tourists, etc.

      ahhh let me let you know there is a country that speak Spanish and they born to be Americans so they have this “accent” but they are citizens of the united states

      Just maybe, they just better than you… regardless where they come from. Just to let you know in other countries they have colleges and universities too

    • Dear GK,
      Your perception that because you hear a foreign accent doesn”t necessarily means that the person is either holding a work permit or is illegally in this country…it may be the fact that he or she is already a naturalized citizen and as you has a right to hold a job; it may be due to the fact that either he or she is better educated than you…starting with your spelling of ”understable”…do you mean ”understandable”?
      And for your information to hold a government job…you better be ”legal’… either a legal alien or a citizen!
      And it is about time that people like you start researching where your ancestors came from? Unless you are a direct descendant of an American Indian, all your descendants ” legal or illegal ” came from somewhere else…like maybe from Texas, Arizona, Nevada, California?…and all those territories that just to belong to México and were ‘grab’ by your ancestors not too long ago!

    • Response to GK: They are hired because they have a positive attitude and do not consider obtaining a job a right of passage, rather they maintain good work ethics. By the way, are you native American? or maybe your boat just arrived earlier.

    • GK
      For one do a spell check, it is understandable- not understable.
      I am an immigrant,with an accent, experience and education (US Citizen) but was unemployed for a short time. The immigrant being employed has nothing to do with you being unemployed. Aren’t natural born US citizens working jobs for less money than you would probably worked for ?
      and just for your information, there are many immigrants who no longer have a non american accent, but they are still immigrants, but you wouldn’t know

    • They are hired becase the bosses want to show they are a diversity sensitive enviroment translated that means either they want to expand corporate image to a demographic and yes they want more control over workers.

    • Maybe it’s your interpersonal skills and sense of entitlement GK. I am glad you are unemployed- surely don’t want someone like you being my boss, things happen for a reason! You need to learn humility, a quality that most hard immigrants possess.

    • I agree with GK. I live in the Caribbean and we are now being overrun by a whole slew of Americans on visas taking up all the executive positions when their are more than qualified persons available locally.

      Not sure why persons are stil not willing to trust their own.

  16. bayou queen – foreign accents sound intriguing to the American ear, but an accent in an American-born citizen is not. What if your daughter goes to college to become a professional and move out of the swamps? For her sake, I hope her teachers did not accommodate your request.

    • AND GK
      IF YOU CAN’T FIND A JOB IS NOT BECAUSE OF US DIRTY NASTY IMMIGRANTS IS BECAUSE YOU ARE 100 YEARS OLD AND HAVE A NASTY KKK ATTITUDE….FROM A DAUGHTER OF TWO IMMIGRANTS THAT CAME TO THIS COUNTRY AND WORK THEIR BEHIND OFF, NEVER TOOK ANYTHING FROM THE GOVERMENT. LOL

    • bayou queen,

      It appears your racist slip is showing. There is no way to know from a person’s accent if she is a US citizen. The most subtle ethnic profiling (illegal even in Arizona)often begins with perceptions, not facts.

    • I beg to differ, they may sound intriguing to your ear, but not all. When we came over here ate the ages of 5 and 6 we my sister was pushed back to kindergarten and my mum was told it was beacuse my sisiter had a speech impediment. Now we are now what my grandmum (in England) considers us Americanized and corrects all correspondence and returns it. Right down to spelling.

    • thats kind of rude, considering all Americans have accents, it just depends on what region you’re from. I bet you have one too, so don’t be so quick to say an accent in an American-born citizen is not intriguing.

  17. I worked as a clerk in a local convenience for several years. I encountered many people who had accents that made it tough to deal with. I had customers from all over the world. With a bit of patience and intelligence we could complete the transaction. The hardest time I had was with a lady from Tennesee. She came in and wanted some “ass”. I begged her pardon and asked her what she was looking for. She wanted some “ass”. She could tell from my reaction that I was not sure what she was saying. She wanted some “ass”, you know, you put it in 54oz cup before you put soda in. I was greatly relieved to know she wanted “ice”. Her last comment before she left the store was how come everybody here laughs when I ask for “ass”.

    • @WJONES:LOL LOL That story is so funny.I work at a restaurant in a hotel,so i
      got my share of funny stories regarding my coworkers,customers and my own accent.To tell you,my heavy accent has never been a problem.Many companies dont mind an accent as long as the employee speaks clearly and understandable.

    • In the 60′s I worked in a children’s ER in Wash, DC. A very young child was brought in with a very infected penis. The peruvian doctor who saw the child oredered antibiotics and “sucks” three times a day. I watched the mother’s eyes widen as he repeated this. I quickly jumped in with “Yes, soaks three times a day.” encuciating soak as carefully as I could. Recently at church my day dreaming was cut short on hearing our mesican pastor saying “Peas be with you.” The third go at it I realized it was ” Peace be with you.” I have to say I paid better attention forthe rest of the service. For the record I have been miss “heard” as well.

  18. Just because she has a Cajun accent…..she lives in a swamp? Oh the horrors of a mother (who,as far as you know is CEO of her own company) wanting her childs accent that has been carried for generations to be kept.

  19. I can’t believe it, accents do disturb people in this time and age ? Never occured to me ever to descriminate against anyone with an accent. of course I do NOT have nazi tendency in my whole being ! This is why ! Not to trust somebody with an accent ? Are we a ridiculous primitive country with dum uneducated people from dark middle ages ? how sad :O(

  20. Pet peeve: People who say “the Joisey” accent. People in New Jersey do not typically use “OI” for “ER.” That’s a Brooklyn thing. Some people move from Brooklyn to New Jersey and some people with the Brooklyn accent talk about New Jersey and call it Joisey, but that’s not the “New Jersey” accent.

  21. Accents are here to stay, does not matter if your educated or not it’s just the world we live in. Step out of the states on business and here yourself speak another different language in another country and see the expressions on the businessman faces . Then you know what they are thinking.

  22. I worked in federal government, when I was interviewed everybody picked me for the job, but there is a female Captain, who don’t like to picked me because of my accent.. but I am still the top choice between other 3 people and the panel told her it will work great. Until now I haven’t heard any complain from my marines about my accent and the other panel who’s my boss now told me I am one of their great employee.. SEMPER FI

  23. I would like to know, hom many off you who did this article speeks more than one language???Don’t you think that isn’t discrimination who was doing stupid study, how they study???

  24. LOL! So many funny comments… Regarding the actual article, however, I am not sure why people with accents got rated less “credible” or “trustful”. About a third of the people I work with have an accent of some kind, and the only time I have a problem with this is when a co-worker lets on that they understand what I am saying, but later turns out they didn’t. THEN, I am less likely to trust that particular person because I am am never really sure if they know what I am talking about!

  25. what i find funny is lilly B attacks erika about her spelling but fails to initially comment on her biggest mistake. Using irregardless instead of regardless. ridiculous. this is informal who cares. Im sure Erika gives perfectly good BJ’s. Kidding Erica! she sounds intelligent to me, again this is informal. No need to even think about spelling.. and if you do think about spelling and dont think about grammer and proper word usage.. your an idiot.

  26. Simply speak in clear, concise English and you have nothing to worry about.
    If you can’t, then feel free to go back where you came from and don’t piss and moan if you can’t get a job as a result…
    Oh and by the way, “irregardless” is indeed not a real word!

  27. I’m black man originally from Africa, I live in Phoenix, Arizona, I have an MBA in Finance and I can’t get a job, even a simple job as a customer service or a cashier in the banks around here, I’m currently working as a Restaurant Server in a hotel around in town, my last 2 accounting classes for my MBA, I shared them with the director of finance in the hotel I work with, he has CPA but he wanted to get an MBA too, even though he’s director of finance and he has many years of experience they’re something I was good at more than him, so that’s how I realized that not getting hired was not because I’m stupid or anything else, It’s just because I have an african and french accent. I think it’s wrong to treat people like this………..

  28. WOW!!! Reading all of this has made me laugh and think. I am an american and have no accent. Even with in my own family I speak more clearly than the other. I pronounce SANDWICH as it is spell. Not sammich or such. But I have been living in Ireland for the last 5 years and find that they say “You’re american?…You speak so clearly and without an accent” So here they can tell OUR accent but to be told I have none…WOW!!! I have to say I have been working with my husband to change his manner of speaking. Like well saying “tree” when saying the number 3 and others. The think I hate the most is that they spell with “ahhs” not A-P-P-L-E it will be “AHH-P-P-L-E” WHO SPELLS WITH A SOUND? This is how they are tought in school. and don’t get me started on some of the english accents like the “V” sound for what ends in a “TH” It is most important for all of us no matter what language we speak to speak it clearly and with out accent and we will all communicate much more easily with out misunderstandings

    • Another typo: Without, not with out… this comes from a Brazilian with an accent. I came here when I was 23 years old, and accordingly to everyone ,I still have a strong accent, I read a lot and have been married and friends with educated people working as a professional. I scored 600 on the verbal part of the GRE exam (Max score 800), which was a result 85% above of everyone (Americans included taking the same test, I speak three languages and I’m still surprised that a lot od people act like I’m an idiot when they are talking to me. I just correct them and go on… I lived overseas and saw some Americans making a fool of themselves trying to speak Spanish. When i read silly articles like this one i think about Henry Kissinger, who held high level jobs at the white house and never lost his accent. I would like to reiterate that most Americans are not prejudiced and closed minded.

  29. 1) Irregardless is not a word. Sure, it’s in some dictionaries, but so is ain’t. A term does not become a word just because a substantial number of imbeciles use it. For the record, when a dictionary lists a word as “nonstandard,” it’s a hint that you probably SHOULD NOT use it.

    2) An accent is an important part of identity. But, learning to speak in a professional manner is an important part of success. “Who dat” sounds uneducated to most ears. Luckily, such speech habits are easily corrected through practice. Anyone can do it. As an example, I speak with a bit of a Michigan “Yooper” (a person from Michigan’s upper penninsula, the U.P.) accent in my personal life, but while at work (third-year law student clerking at a Chicago firm), I have consciously forced myself to pay attention to my vowel sounds, shortening my O’s and U’s and thereby also increasing the overall speed with which I speak. It’s no different than realizing any other aspect of appropriate speech in a professional setting. I don’t swear or make sexual comments at work, either, even though I often do so with my friends in a non-professional setting. All you have to do is pay attention to your habits and work toward improving them.

    As a final note to Bayouqueen, I sincerely hope that your child’s speech therapists honored your request. There is no reason to obliterate a local accent so near the locality in which it is employed. Anyone from that area would presumably be familiar with the local accent, and therefore, it would not be mistaken for a lack of education except by a bigot. Now, your son may desire to work on improving his accent when he gets older, and especially if he moves away or goes into a profession, but for now, I hope he speaks in a manner that preserves and honors his culture.

  30. BAYOUQUEEN, your daughter might need that therapy, but you need writing therapy…the word is SPEECH, not speach. Grab a dictionary or a book, and read it!!!

  31. First, let me axe you a question…..Why is that peoples gonna keep me down? I deserves me a job. I deserves the right to reflect bad on somebody else’s company. Right? Know what I’m saying? When I’s don’t gets me that right, I’m gonna cry about it. Know what I’m saying? Scare you into giving me a j.o.b. I’s is credible, right?

    • What are you trying to write? Were you born in this country? Did you parents spoke English and taught some?…Here is an example of somebody that was born in the United States and can’ t write or speak English!
      I bet you have an accent…is it a rapper accent?

      • Ok, I usually stay out of these, but Marta, you clearly missed the sarcasm of the post above. Please read it again.

        Also, I think you’re both pretty racist. Marta, your racism is obvious in your question of whether this person has a “rapper” accent. And Seriously, yours is clear in your assumption that an accent – whether spoken by someone foreign-born or by someone born here who speaks a different dialect than “standard” American English” – equals poor grammar.

        I was born and raised here, and was constantly being told to “speak English” by my peers whose grammar and vocabulary skills were severely lacking. Most of the immigrants I know who have only been here a few years speak and write English FAR better than most native speakers I have encountered. Get over yourselves.

  32. This study actually makes a lot of sense. Down here in Ireland we get a lot of people with different accents applying for jobs. And in certain positions that involve working with the public, if we find it difficult to understand them or ask them to repeat themselves a few times, it will influence our decision on whether or not we’ll hire them.

  33. No, “irregardless” is not a word. The correct word is “regardless.” So-called words like “ain’t” and more recently “ginormous” (giant + enormous) have found their way into dictionaries, as slang, but they are also not proper words just because hicks and idiots use them frequently. The same goes for “irregardless.” When I hear someone use this “word” I immediately assume their I.Q. must be below 80, not to mention it’s like nails on a chalkboard. Oh, and Wikipedia is the very last place one should turn to for research. It’s like turning to a thread of comments posted by pseudo-intellectuals like this one…..err, wait a minute, I’m posting a comment here as well. Is “LOL” a word?!

    As for accents, a slight to moderate accent is one thing. But in this country we speak proper English, and I have worked in several environments in which 50% or more of the employees are here on work permit from foreign countries and many are extremely difficult to understand, if not nearly impossible. The language barrier can have a trickle-down effect – e.g. people trying to understand/translate broken English to others can end up looking like the incompetent ones for not passing along accurate information. If I were to move to France seeking to live and work, I’d learn the language and learn to speak it fluently, not expect all of France to have to interpret gibberish. Comprende? Wait, that’s Spanish. Come to think of it, I’m tired of hearing automated phone systems asking me, “Para Espanol, press 2!!”

    :-)

  34. I am from the Eastern Caribbean region and my accent has never proven to be a problem with my clients who are from the United States. In fact, I have been told that my accent is ‘delightful to the ears’, ‘sweet’,’unique’.

    To discriminate because of someone’s accent shows somewhat a sign of being intolerant of the differences which makes us all special.

    My husband and I have a friend from Ghana and though some people state that they are unable to understand him when he speaks , we have found that to be quite the reverse. You see, when we listen to him -we listen for the context of what he has to say -relating to him through his words and not his accent.

    We practive effective communication by first learning the art of developing effective listening skills.

  35. Yeah, that is a leftover of the British culture, where the accent made you immediately recognizable as belonging to a certain social strata and it was even in a bad tone to try and speak with a “better” accent than what you were born into – vide: “My Fair Lady” – an entire and may I add very good story which is all about accents.

    That said: Americans are intensely xenophobic and the accent is one of the ways for people to be reminded that he/she is “not one of us”.

    What the study shows is that people do not trust “them strangers”. An accent is a constant reminder who the “them strangers” is in a given group.

    People will react identical whether you have an accent, or simply tell them that you are a foreigner / immigrant. As soon as you admit to not being born in the good ol’ USA the discussion is over… No matter what you say it is invalid. Trust me, I know.

  36. This study, just shows how un diversified our workforce is… the study simply says: as expected American’s hardly travel outside of the US, therefore making the US the least place to represent equal rights…boo whoo.

  37. The article (not the comments) is VERY poorly written, full of split infinitives, and the use of “like” instead of “as”, to give just two examples. It cites a study with a statistical effect without giving any confidence levels, sample size, etc. How do we know it is a valid study? And are there other studies? Do they confirm the (?significant) result described here?

    Judging by the poorly written article, I would certainly neither trust its content nor hire the author.

  38. In today’s process oriented organizations, accent is not an issue. Its the contents in this global economy that’s matter. Rather its the product that matters and not the packaging.

  39. I am a retired civilian who had worked for the U.S. Air Force as an environmental and occupational health chemist and a computer programmer. As such I came into contact with many non native English speakers as well as many regional English dialects. Generally, I had no problem understanding their English although from time to time I had to have them repeat what they said or ask them to clarify what was said. I had more problems with their colloquialisms than with their accents. For instance, those who spoke British English would call an elevator a lift and a truck was a lorry.

  40. As someone who grew up bilingually (spanish/english), I now teach ESOL (for kids whose first language-any language- is not english). I honestly don’t hear the differences in accents unless they are decidedly very strong. Even then I take the time to listen to what others are saying. I wish more people would take the time to do this as open communication should be a high priority for all people.

  41. Accents, even heavy ones are rarely a problem. The common problem (very common) is broken English and use of “wrong” words for the context. Sometimes it makes for a very difficult work environment. The problem is not an “accent”, its inadequate mastery of language; the “dominant” language of the workplace.

  42. i think that different accent are bit hard to understand at first, but if you take the time and try to understand individuals then it will work out . and if you doing buisness with a company abraod them you should atleast try to learn the native language. so i think it takes a bit on boths parties to get it going .

  43. from what I can read you all have one thing in common, YOU GUYS ARE A BUNCH OF BITCHESSSSS ON THEIR PERIOD……AND THAT WAS SAID WITH AN ACCENT.

  44. I can tell you from experience. If you have an accent, it is ten times harder to move up in the corporate ladder.

    I faced the bigotry of those at Ford in Dearborn for many years.

  45. I am not a US citizen and I know if I lived there I would sound strange. However, to every person the other person has an “accent”. That is because everyone has his own idiolect. What makes a difference is how one enunciates and pronounce the words in English.

    WJones you cracked me up with that woman wanting “ass”. Said in the wrong forum she would get it.

  46. Bad accents really turn me off. I’ve walked out of stores, car dealerships and other businesses simply because the sales person had a really bad foreign accent. I also never buy gas at any gas stations run by foreigners with weird accents.This is America, speak American English (in any American dialect), no matter what color or race you are. Or, I’ll take my business somewhere else where they speak my language.

    • The English Language and accents are two different concepts. You sound a bit ignorant and intolerant.

      It is your right to take your business anywhere you want, but I would love to know what is your definition of “weird and bad accents”. I’m curious if my Brazilian accent would turn you off , LOL Don’t worry, I’m a professional Social Worker who is also a naturalized American Citizen working on my Master’s Degree and I don’t own any business. You are from some region in the USA and each region have their own accents (Within the”American English Dialect” as you said), I’m sure you have an accent too. Your ancestors had an accent, unless they were Native Americans, otherwise they came here by boat at some point. Shame on you!

  47. first of all “irregardless” is informal way to say regardless, this is a word that appears in the dictionary as being “incorrect or non standard” however this is a word that has been use since the 20th century. I’m a foreign national and i do have an accent, people understand what am i saying and my grammar is almost perfect, “nobody is perfect” my accent is understandable and i have had no problems whatsoever, i been in the US for 17 years but somehow i cannot get rid of the accent, which i hate so much. I this accents can keep you from getting things that you want i.g your dream job, but what’s really keeps you from getting to the top is “yourself” (the way you express yourself) no matter if you have an accent, you just have to know how to persuade things, for example the director of the FED he had a really strong accent and he made it to the top.

  48. Well personally for me I date a man from Scotland and no I have a perfect understanding of what he is saying mostly. Unless of course he gets to talking to his friends which is pure “doric” a language used in Aberdeen. I am from Virginia and though I do have a southern drawl it works just fine for me, I have a wonderful job and my own home…

  49. It depends on the job that is being done, how would you like to go to the emergancy room and not be able to understand the doctors instructions. That could be deadly. Or think of an air traffic controller.

  50. Funny thing is, I am a native English speaker but I am not American or British. Because of my “accent” (I really don’t think I have a definitive accent because I lived in five different countries growing up) people assume English is not my native tongue. I pronounce words just as they were meant to be without any regional or national inflections; in my mind at least, such an accent should be the easiest to understand. I do speak quite intelligently and with an obvious higher knowledge of the English language, yet because of the”accent” people still ask me “So when did you learn English?” I feel like slapping them.

  51. It goes the other way also…American’s are enthralled with a British accent and will “follow ‘em anywhere” even if they are a crook.

  52. I run the switchboard at a hospital and one of the job requirements is the ability to deal with staff and callers who have a variety of accents from a variety of different countries. Communication begins with simply “listening”, not rocket science here. As humans, we have a tendency to complicate things, such as the ability or inability to understand someone else’s botched attempt at English. It amazes me that some people have gained citizenship in this country, yet they can barely speak the language. And when I see how things are marketed these days, it’s no wonder there’s no incentive for people who were not born or raised in the United States to bother learning the language. Store coupons are now printed in Spanish . . . . toothpaste is toothpaste and it does not have to be in Spanish for someone to figure that out. Labels on clothing are 10 feet long as the instructions on care are in different languages. I am all for learning a second language, but if one wishes to be successful in this Country, one would need to properly learn the language and not try to “fake it, til you make it”.

    • I just have one small point in response to your post. Well, okay, maybe 2.

      First, the clothing labels are so long and have so many languages on them because the clothing comany wants to manufacture one label and stick it on every piece so they don’t have to bother with batches when sending the clothing from one factory to multiple countries. It’s not to cater to several different demographics in one country, it’s to streamline the process of shipping products to multiple countries. It’s the same reason drive-up ATMs have braille on them in spite of the fact that blind people don’t drive.

      Second, this is a capitalist country with very powerful financial interests driving cultural currents. That’s why some companies target different communities/demographics who speak languages other than English. It has nothing to do with anything except money, like most things here. I think it’s important to remember which parties or entities are responsible for changes rather than directing our collective American ire toward individuals who are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Just my two cents.

  53. I’m not a grammar nazi, but I love it when someone is telling someone else they need to learn to spell and then correcting the term “irregardless” IT IS NOT A WORD! Just because people use it does not mean it’s legit. Do you know the meaning of “regardless”, because if you did you would know you don’t need an “ir” before it. There is no “correct spelling” for a term that is not a word (and yes people will look down on you if you use it, don’t backtrack)

    However we must remember that some words are spelt differently – Canadian/British spelling of a word might differ in the USA (i.e. humour, humor) and you would not believe how many people think the spelling is wrong if you add or omit the “U”

  54. Cole me down on the panny sty!
    I´ll get freacky pally who knowsa Pootie Tang?!
    Futhers America Language…
    You think that just cuz a girl likes to dress fancy and stand on the corner next to some whores, that she’s hookin?
    Cole me on the panny sty…
    Da hell with it!

  55. I work in an environment where there is a person who speaks with an accent, we were in a meeting and he wanted people to follow something on a “shit”.

    • LOL!
      I am not a US citizen, have been here for like 3 years.
      I deliberately worked on getting a local sounding accent. I don’t like to stand out as a foreigner. Luckily my race is not very apparent from my looks. Though some people think I am Mexican!
      I watched TV, talk shows mostly. Picked up a lot from there.
      My daughrt got the accent from school and I learnt from her.

      Within a year, people started thinking I am wither born in US or have spent many years in US.

      I’d do the same thing if I go to UK or any other English-speaking country.

      • There was a typo with Daughter. In case people go correcting the spelling. Its so scary to comment here, someone might be ready with a verbal sword out there!

  56. :-) It’s amazing how we often think the person opposite have English or a pronunciation problem, just because WE may be the one with it…. You can only imagine when we Caribbean folks travel to the USA how funny it songs when we speak.
    I hired a Haitian lady just a few weeks ago, and man she aced her interview, but the problem started when she went into the work environment it was almost chaos, almost everyday she had a miscommunication problem that lead to a misinterpretation of what she heard and what the she trying convey.
    My suggestion here is that we need do an intensive and consistent training for our team members in the work place on “how to we communicate in the work place”

  57. I get teased all of the time because of my British/West Indian accent. It is not a “thick” accent and what is more amusing to some are the different terminologies that I use. I try not to let it bother me but yes it can hamper you from being employed. Years ago I signed with an employment agency for Admin Asst/Receptionist. I indicated that I preferred to be permanently employed rather than being a temp but will do so in the meantime until they had something permanent for me. I had quite a bit of temp jobs during the short time that I was there. No one mentioned a problem. One day while reading the Want-Ads I noticed a position posted by the same employment agency listing required qualifications which I am capable of doing. When contacted, their excuse was that my accent was an issue. I questioned them on it since you can’t even dial 411 and get someone without a foreign accent. Not to mention, the jobs which I was sent on all had employees with “thick American” accents (such as ass=ice) including one woman who must have had her jaw wired and could barely open her mouth to speak. It is wrong to stereotype someone based on their accent, looks, ethnic or religious background. You might be losing out on a great employee or a friend.

  58. I am happy that you brought out this issue. Well I am from Sri Lanka and was educated uder the British English. In my country I speak fairly good English, but since I came here I find it very difficult to understand the accent. It is like Greek to me. Any way I am managing. But on the other hand even if I knwo my job still communication makes things very difficult. Thank God for emails. For quick communication it is the best.

  59. At this day and age, I cannot believe we are still discussing this issue in a country where it’s population is made up of immigrants and with an economy that depeds on the global market. It all depends on how willing people are to step out of their comfort zone and show some effort to understand each other. By the way, foreigners usually have better grammar.

  60. I agree with the first comment. My time is limited and I get tired of asking people to repeat themselves. Far too often, when they do, they say exactly the same thing with EXACTLY the same inflection. This tells me that they couldn’t care less about being understood.

  61. I don’t know if anyone will ever read this or not, but I have to get it out of my system anyway. Whether an accent helps or hurts depends on your line of work. In the medical field, for example, foreign accents often are a fact of life. In the last clinic that I worked in, about 75% of the doctors had a foreign accent of some kind. However, this was not true of the supporting staff. I do believe that accents (including regional dialects) help to reinforce stereotypes, which is unfortunate. This is the sad truth behind paula’s jest.
    Now as for erika and LilyB (that means BOTH of you):
    Regarding usage of the word “irregardless”: My advice is to err on the side of caution. However you spell it, I would refrain from using it in the workplace, especially in formal, written communications. It is still not considered a standard English word, and its acceptance is controversial, at best. Yes, it may be in some of the newer dictionaries, but so is “ain’t”. Just because a word has four syllables does not mean that it will make you sound like a genius. There is a play called ‘The Rivals’–an old comedy–which you should see if you ever get the opportunity. If not, I’m sure that your local library can help you get a copy to read. Pay particular attention to the character known as Mrs. Malaprop. Her utter butchery of the English language is exactly what makes her part so funny.

  62. I’m Danish and have worked and lived in Denver, CO, and currently live in Scotland, UK. I’ve been told that I have a very American sounding twang to my accent – although it’s more and more becoming a mix between American, Scottish and Danish (just to keep people guessing lol!). I personally have only experienced a couple of times that people can’t understand what I’m saying, or have treated me differently because of my accent. Most people I speak with are very intruiged when they detect an accent. In my opinioin everyone who does business over the phone should try and speak loud and clearly. That doesn’t mean you should try and change or hide your accent – that can be impossible to do. However, remember that the person in the other end might never have heard your accent before and it can be hard to understand people when you aren’t face to face with them. I found myself that I had a really hard time understanding the Scots in the beginning, but it wasn’t in my interest to judge them and certainly hope that they didn’t/don’t judge me because of my accent. In fact doing that says more about the person judging than the one being judged…

  63. I recall VIVIDLY the firestorm surrounding Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s observations: Boston accents (i.e., John F. Kennedy,Sr.) are ‘different’, yet not ‘deficient’. Such observations coming from a minister who formerly studied linguistics, and who spoke several languages himself.

    American English is NOT the king’s English….unless of course the King happens to be named (late) Martin Luther.

  64. An accent makes an experience memorable. If one is so thick-minded as to focus on what is difficult to understand, one misses opportunities to learn from new experiences.

  65. GK: Resentment will not get you any where. Update your job skils, interviewing skills. Who knows why you’re fired and foreigners still hold a job. Different departments, different budgets for those departments. Would it be fair to fire someone just because they are foreigners? Just because you are a citizen does not guarantee a job for you. Think of your ancestors. They were immigrants, too, at some point in their lives. Today’s immigrants will be tomorrow’s full phledged Americans. It takes several generations for that to happen, though.

  66. @GK,
    I am an immigrant serving in the U.S. Army as an Officer “Platoon Leader, Troop Executive Officer, and Squadron Logistician” I do not know your education level but I know mine. Having an accent does not make you stupid, I am sorry about you not being able to find a job in the field you so desire. May be those immigrants are better qualified, making more than you would have been making. Do not assume immigrants are cheaper than a native. May be you should conduct a study on immigrants, you would be amazed of the outcome. Just in case you did not know I am an Armor Officer “requires a lot of communication”.

  67. I completely agree with the intent of Title VII with regards to fair hiring- every qualified applicant should be fairly considered by employers. It does bother me though that some people think that an accent being a hiring factor is discriminatory. As many have said, communication is a huge part of many fields, especially those based in customer service.
    I have lived in several other countries through my military service, so I don’t think that an accent makes someone more or less trustworthy; however, how can I do business with someone I can’t understand? When I lived overseas and spoke the local language, I had to put just as much effort into the accent as the language in order for anyone to understand me. I don’t think that people need to train their accents away completely, but if you expect to live and work in another country, you need to put effort into the language skills. I feel the same way about people with thick regional accents. I grew up with a regional accent, but I had to soften it when I joined the military- not because it made me sound untrustworthy, but because some people had difficulty understanding me. People can still identify the origin of my accent, but they no longer need to ask me to repeat myself two or three times. Stop being lazy and join the global community!

  68. I have experienced due to my accent not only an attitude that I might have difficulties with work but also that I maybe don’t have a clue how does a “developed business world of EU” functions. Even though I worked in Greece, where the term business should be taken with reserve!:))

  69. I think this discussion has become derailed by people who want to tear apart others comments. I had the displeasure of speaking with a customer service agent yesterday, who one: didn’t understand what I was trying to explain, and two: whose accemt I could not understand. I could not resolve my problem. I asked to speak with a supervisor but was left on hold for so long I gave up and will call again today. My point; If someone’s accent interferes with their understanding of and communication with customers they should be given a position with less access to customers. I don’t believe in not hiring someone because of an accent, having an accent does not make one less intelligent and they could be a tremendous asset to any company in the right job.

    I am sure that I have not spelled some words correctly but that has nothing to do with this subject.

  70. Wjones- LOL, your little story makes me recall the countless times I have encountered the same problem here in Georgia, trying to understand the convoluted drawl of the very same people who revile foreign language education and profess that immigrants should be coerced to speak English at all times in public. I was educated in NYC during my chidhood and iin private schools thereon overseas and my English is impeccable, yet I can clearly detect the leering looks in my direction when my full, foreign-sounding name is pronounced during group introductions at business meetings. I have even been asked when it was that I recieved “American” citizenship, and I was born a U.S. citizen, so it’s reasonable for me to believe that there’s more behind this than just an accent.

  71. dialect is kind of an antiquated term that implies that language varieties are arranged in some kind of pecking order with standard english (in this story) being at the top and everything else beneath it. this is bullpoopy. language variety exists along a continuum. standard english is an invented ideal, in the u.s. based on mid-western dialects and promoted by the media. all varieties are equal. money and power give a variety its status. so when you speak standard english you are imitating the language of power. you are assimilating. people should be proud of the language varieties they speak. of course people who speak different varieties can and should adapt when speaking to each other for ease of communication and politeness. but there is no right or wrong. there are idiots who judge you for it though. but good luck with that one. people still aren’t over skin color or gender, etc… there’s probably idiots out there that don’t like a person bc they have attached or detached earlobes. face it, humans are often stupid! for those of you who haven’t erased your accents, thank you! we should be proud of all the beautiful varieties of language that exists in the u.s. these are treasures to be embraced. Speak southern, speak yankie, speak ebonics, speak with a non-native accent, etc. etc. etc. it’s all good! be proud of who you are and where you’ve come from and the people who passed their language on to you. screw cooperate america for trying to erase individualism and make people ashamed of themselves!

  72. This is racism in disguise. European and North American countries are at grips with imigration issues as local populations feel threatened by more qualified immigrants when it comes to employment. The labour laws and human rights considerations bar employers from straight out segregation of immigrants into the job market. lame excuses such as accent, where education was acquired, come into play to fee such racists egos.
    If the concern is accents of non native speakers why let them inside country borders in the first place as job seekers? Its only fair for those with concern to openly declare that they dont want any non native speaker into their country, and that means also closing their embassies in those people’s countries or any business relations they might have; as people in those countries feel the same with them when it comes to accents. I commend the Apartheid South African government by coming out clearly that they were racists and I am dismayed by the hypocrisy in the western countries.

  73. What is oh, so laughable to me, is that those persons being accused of ‘stealing gud Amurrkin jobs’ do not use English as their first language.Our gold, they weigh on metric scales. They often educate their children at a fraction of the cost of education in the United States.

    Delta…Trinidad please, first class seats.

  74. Now if we could just get U.S. corporations to stop hiring East Indian call centers for their customer service… they are extremely difficult to understand.

  75. I think accent is so important if I need a job from you..? If I have my own business would you require my accent to buy my products if you really need them?
    I think this accent thing is just a prejudice and nothing more,.. I do not think every body on this planet earth should speak language same way. Besides, I never heard a French man or German talk about accent — its only English.. May God have mercy

  76. wow…/ reading all the posting here i now realized it’s not only here in my country that we have these diff regional dialects..i always thought americans always speaks clear english..guess i was wrong..that’s a relief somehow. :)

  77. If the person that i have to deal with is difficult, or impossible, to understand I’ll spend my money elsewhere. There are plenty of businesses out there that bend over backward to get me to spendmy money with them. To put obsicals in my way is only inviting me to go somewhere else !!
    Sorry, not my problem and I won’t listen to arguments on this issue. Learn to speak English or find work where speaking isn’t prt of your job !!

  78. I work in a company where nearly every other person is a foreigner, specially in EU. the accents are hard to understand at times but looks like it would never come across anyone’s mind unless they read this article. LOL

  79. I am an Englishman living in the American mid-West.

    Having lived here for 12 years and had several jobs I have had many work colleagues and friends who have said they have not understood what asked or said to them.

    They ask me if I speak ENGLISH I have replied “Yes I do, do you?”

  80. We are so diverse, by now we should be able to speak another language. Most americans are stubborn and refuse to learn other cultures.

  81. I’m from the south, but only have a slight accent due to living in California for ten years recently. I interviewed for a job in the New England area, and was told the reason I didn’t get the job was because of “cultural differences. It is New England”. wow

  82. Hate to admit it, but a strong accent does have a negative effect on me. I have a co-worker who I know has lived in the US for over 20 years and still sounds like English was only learned 20 days ago, and it really can be trying. The person will answer the phone, ” How can I help you?” and in my head I reply, “You can’t help anyone, unlesss the first qestion is, “Do you speak S—-sh?” In addition, I am in construction supply, and when you get a customer who you know by their bill of materials is either taking a short-cut, or doesn’t know how to properly do a project, and then combine that with not just a thick accent, but actually can’t speak English, it does have an effect, even for those customers that do know what they are doing…

    • Funny you should say that, I am an architectural designer who works for a school system in the Southeastern U.S. I am daily confronted by a blevy of atrocious spelling and syntax errors in the paper and electronic mail that I process, I have had to redact correspondence for a SENIOR DIRECTOR who was very obviously grammar-challenged and dyslexic and I have had to crash-course maintenance foremen in portions of my skill set to enable them to apply for a managerial position above me on my boss’s orders. When I arrived in the South I could hardly understand what was said to me by half of the people I met, one Transportation Department technician became angered at my confusion as to what “I.O. brains” were, turned out that he was referring to “inner and outer bearings”. When asked where I had come to the South from, I responded that my port of call was Ponce, Puerto Rico and was asked what part of Mexico that was. These things have left quite an impression on ME.

  83. also to add. i work in an American company, one of the top Fortune 500 companies and the CEO is not American anymore but European with a very strong accent. If the company BoD are okay with him then the foreign accents shouldnt matter much if they are somehow understandable.

  84. @lilyb
    you should stop being a hate-mongoring spelling nazi. is this a spelling-b? no one gives a flip if you spell something “wrong” on a post. look, i can even write w/out capital letterz. the whole point is communication, and i’m pretty sure that no one had a problem understanding erika’s post. spelling is completely made up! it’s political! hence, the differences in english spelling based on nationality. as adults, we all recognize that people that bully other people and talk down to them are people who lack self-esteem. they feed off of belittling other people. so you may think you’re being clever by screaming out about how well you can spell, but you’re really just showing everyone else what a mean, nasty person you are. stop making people miserable!

  85. WJones: I love it!!!!!
    Many of the customers we handle have an accent, so what. They are some of the most intelligent people I have met. It is incredible that in this society of intelligent humans, some folks have no patience and maybe no intelligence either. What a great story. I want to thank you as I will be sharing this information with many of my collagues. Have any more to share? ^_^

  86. My grandparents emmigrated here from Hungary and like all other immigrants, assimilated and became American. They learned the language and spoke it fluently. The new wave of immigrants don’t assimilate and expect Americans to accept them, their way of living, their dress, and their language issues. WRONG. If you’re in this country and want to conduct business, I expect THEM to be able to effectively communicate with me. If I have any difficulty understanding them, I’ll go elsewhere. It has nothing to do with credibility.

  87. I work right now at a market research company where we are required to make numerous phone calls to placed them into focus groups based to their qualifications and what is client looking for. So, you can imagine that I am required to speak to a lot of people on daily bases with my heavy Eastern European accent. You know what?!? I have no problem with getting people and they don’t have problem (somehow) with understaning me. I think it is all about your confidence when you speak in business place and how you present yourself. In addition, what helped me a lot too, was that my boss gave me a chance and little of time to get that confidence up in me.

  88. @WJones you really made me laugh loud…. i have an accent problem and i dont even notice when i am talking to others.can accent be changed or learnt.isnt it hard to teach old dogs new tricks or there is a way?please let me know.

  89. Because of my accent, I have been bullied, humiliated and fired by the Dulles Transit Partners/Bechtel in Virginia. Their doctor treated me like a bandit and my own workers’ comp attorney is threatening to withdraw from my case. I was injured on the job and they deviced a means to fire me two month later, mainly because of my accent and origin.
    I worked as a carpenter on the Dulles Metrorail Project, where I was hit on the head with a 24 inch pipe wrench and fell to the ground.
    I am being suppressed because of the accent that I cannot change. This is terrible. This injustice has to stop. 10/27/10

  90. I agree with not hiring those that you totally cannot understand who’s native language is not english (non english speakers) but in today’s world where the percentage of diversity is at the highest peak due to globalization and highert immigration, it will be ignorant and arrogant to say that an employer not higher someone who’s native language is english but they have an accent. There are American’s in different part of the country that you just don’t understandm for example Alabama.

  91. i was born in the UK and have lived in the US for the past 10 years and consider myself pretty much american except for having a slight british accent…i’ve noticed that b/c of it, people always seem to assume that i’m smarter and well-bred/refined (which may not necessarily be true) so even with the different accents among native english speakers, theres a hierarchy for how we treat people too — i just happen to have one of the ones that makes me seem MORE credible.

  92. The people you call “with an accent”didn’t cause the turmoil and depression of the current economy. Find another excuse or game plan, I am sure you have plenty!

  93. Please stop perpetuation the “Joisey” nonsense. NOBODY in New Jersey says it that way. Nobody. There may be some borough of New York that has that accent, but nobody west of the Hudson River.

  94. I regularly hang up on customer “service” lines sweatshopped out to India and on cold callers with heavy Hispanic accents. It’s not that I can’t understand either accent. It’s that I find both of them extremely irritating.

    Basically I refuse to do business with companies that outsource all of their service to India because I get tired of listening to the droning monotone of Indian accents. I work in I.T. so I hear enough of that at the office. And I get tired of Hispanics with thick accents who have been living in the US since childhood or who were born here. Why the accent? Oh yes, because your kind refuses to assimilate.

  95. I am a professional medical Translator/Interpreter and I have problems understanding doctors and medical residents that are from other countries, because they pass written exams ,but not English oral exams.
    Some make big mistakes, luckily for my patients I am present but what about the ones that see them alone?
    Also accents can be slight but worse is uneducated English spoken.

  96. @WJones
    I concur. LOL. Americans are the worst. Often we are smug and indignant. When will be get enough of ourselves…individually. If we all treated others with respect and dignity, this would not be such a big deal. We could then work on education, poverty, unemployment and loving ourselves (true meaning of love). It means you love others.

  97. GK. You know the answer to your question, inmigrats wheather legal or not work cheaper, at least they have a job, you go try to pick up tomatoes for a full day and see how you feel. Maybe you are over qualify and can’t get a job.

  98. Do you know that irregardless is not a word? The correct word is regardless. Do you know that supposebly is not a word? The correct word is supposedly. Do you know that twicet is not a word. The correct word is twice. Do you know that ask is pronounced ask and not ax? Poor grammar drives me nuts. I can work with an accent but poor grammar is a different beast. If you are born and raised in America and you have poor grammar, do not look to me to hire you. It is not going to happen. Heaven knows that I do not want to offend anyone but I have no tolerance for poor grammar.

  99. Accent discrimination is more likely subtle racism as all of the English men I have worked with appeared to have an advantage with their smooth accent; while those with accents, who also happen to be of color, often are treated as less intelligent. While this is indicative of our need to continue to progress as a country, parents who discourage learning proper English and use of grammar are crippling their children’s opportunities. Similarly, those wonderful “moral” parents who only teach their children creationism are insuring their kids will have no opportunity in the field of science or serious academia. Give kids all the info and tools you can (creationism and evolution; the commonly accepted pronunciation as well as cultural nuances) and let them make decisions for themselves!

  100. Speaking with an accent can make life difficult.

    When I was in the 1st grade my teacher called my mom at home and told her that I had a speech impediment, that I talked like Elmer Fudd.

    My mom said, “Weawwy?..and is that a pwabwem?”

  101. A person who has an accent should not be treated like they are less than anyone else. A lot of individuals need to stop being so narrow minded and treat a person with respect like they would want to be treated. If you don’t understand what a person is saying, then ask them to say it again- there’s no harm in doing that. I speak with a Southern accent but I can be understood by others when I talk. It’s unfortunate that we live in a closed-minded society.

  102. My biggest complaint regarding heavily accented workers is for companies that contract telemarketers and customer service representatives that are based in foreign countries. As a receptionist at my work place, it is beyond annoying to be harassed on a daily basis by individuals that work with these firms who cannot even pronounce the owner’s first name (it is a common name, nothing extraordinary). Also, I recently experienced trouble with my internet service and when I called the customer service number, I could barely understand the heavily accented voice of the person on the other end. WAKE UP CORPORATE AMERICA!!!-if you are going to pay telemarketers to harass people, at least give those jobs to someone here in the United States and hiring “customer service” representatives who can’t speak decent English aggravates an already unhappy customer.

  103. WJones, Fortunately most people are like you. Business or not they patiently deal with accents, making an extra effort to understand them. I do not know where the distrust comes from. It is all about our attitude.

  104. My biggest complaint regarding heavily accented workers is for companies that contract telemarketers and customer service representatives that are based in foreign countries. As a receptionist at my work place, it is beyond annoying to be harassed on a daily basis by individuals that work with these firms who cannot even pronounce the owner’s first name (it is a common name, nothing extraordinary). Also, I recently experienced trouble with my internet service and when I called the customer service number, I could barely understand the heavily accented voice of the person on the other end. WAKE UP CORPORATE AMERICA!!!-if you are going to pay telemarketers to harass people, at least give those jobs to someone here in the United States and hiring “customer service” representatives who can’t speak decent English aggravates an already unhappy customer.

    • Kimberly, the sole reason the coorporate america doesnt hire telemarketers from america or canada is the cost. They can get telemarketers who would work for just a dollar per hour. And the way I think is that a slight misconsept makes you not understand english in a thick accent. I have colleagues who has a really thick accent, but I understand what they say. Try to loose the believe that they cannot speak english. But that is true too, that telemarketers from india do harras people sometimes, but you always do have the option to say “NOT INTERESTED” and hang up.

  105. I always worked at volunteer jobs mainly because I am what they call disabled and not allowed to earn a check except social security.So I worked over at the local library .T he up part about it is that they understood and trained me as a library worker that put away books,clean books,andtapes.when I left to go to a church that had activitys that took up most of my time and then the church folded I went back ther to try to get another job ,the job Ihad was taken over by computers .So whatch it if computers are not in the way they might be in the future.

  106. I have problems of accent since I was born and raised in another country. It is very frustrating when people don’t understand You or understood You the wrong way.

  107. We hired a man who could barely speak English (his entire vocabulary consisted of “I know” and “Okay”, even when he didn’t know and it wasn’t okay), though he’d been in the country for 5 years. Nearly 2 years later, he knows more words but his accent is still so thick that no one can understand him – yet he has to deal with customers on the phone regularly! People call back and ask to speak to someone else because they didn’t have a clue what he said. No one knows why he was hired, other than he was the only man who applied and our supervisor refuses to hire women.

  108. If people enunciate a bit and move their jaw a bit when they speak. It’s kinda like handwriting, your brain controls your fingers. There’s no excuse for sloppy penmanship. Can you imagine what would happen when you scratched your ass if your fingers controlled your brain.

  109. It’s “regardless”. Irregardless isn’t a word. Snarky snarky snarky.

    I’m from Minnesota. I know to the rest of the country we sound *euphemism here*- quaint. My long,”O”s, and mispronounced, “bagel”, makes me the butt of many jokes. I don’t feel like what I say is found to be less credible, it just sets off a lot of giggling if I have to talk “about a boat”.

  110. This proves that Americans are the idiots of planet earth. This study does not make sense whatsoever, and I am pretty sure that it was conducted by either a knucklehead who suffers from some type of complex (superiority? inferiority? you pick) or someone who is trying to get his. her name out there through your narrow minds. Just to let you know, the Chinese have a heavy accent and you trust them with your economy. The oil which runs your lives comes, for the most part, from foreign countries where people have accents when they speak English. Your food, clothes and any other products you can think of are made by people who have an accent when they speak English. And they only have an accent when they speak your language, not when they communicate in their mother tongue. By the way, you knuckleheads have accents too and if you don’t believe me try speaking Mandarin, French or Swahili……..And you wonder why your schools produce the dumbest grads in the entire world? Sad!

  111. My problem is with call centers for American companies that are located in foreign countries staffed by people for whom English is not their first language.

    For instance, Comcast uses a call center in Grenada, so, the first time you call Comcast with a problem, the call is answered by islanders making about a dollar an hour. PayPal’s customer service uses a call center in the Philippines; everytime I’ve called there, it takes three times as long to get through to the employee why I’m calling. Their accents are too heavy to be understood. AT&T’s service center is in India. Enough said about that.

    If an American company wants MY money, I tell them that I object to call centers being located out of the US and staffed by people who are NOT US citizens making money for a country other than the US.

  112. So, people fro Alabama and Mississippi have a really hard time getting a job because of their accent, lol… Come on, give me a break!

  113. Besides landing me few boyfriends, my accent hasn’t helped me at all. Moreover, it prevented me from getting job offers even though my qualifications and skills were exceptional. This clearly is a discrimination against me and I resent it.

  114. I wholly agree that credibility is related to the ability to comprehend the person speaking and affects the quality of your impression of them and your relationship. I beleive further study would be appropriate; its not just accent but jwithin the USA argon words and regional phrases that mean one thing to the speaker and somthing else or nothing at all to the listener also affects one’s impression. I am disappointed that a number of the responders took a defensive stand. Communication is two way… if you want to be understood you will try to improve the clarity of your message and if you want to understand someone else you seek clarification. Are we so shallow and in such a hurry that we can’t attempt to seek clarification from a foreigner who has tried to learn our language? Personally, I try to improve the understanding with someone whose native tongue is not American English, but I am sorry to say i do more readily dismiss those persons who are suppose to be native American English speakers and yet graduated from US schools with horrible spoken grammar and pronunciation that makes it difficult to understand them.

  115. I’ve lived in several states from the east coast to the west. Being southern-born, I have been amazed at the various responses I’ve received over the years to my “Steel Magnolias” accent. Midwesterners seemed to love it, as did people in Florida (everyone knows Florida is NOT part of the South!) But my greatest disappointment was in the great state of California, home of the true liberals. I was treated like an inbred idiot by most people I dealt with there, including those who could barely speak English themselves. A very disappointing experience, but very educational. In our high-speed world, it is even more important to take that extra moment to try and understand one another. We may speak with different accents, but we all have more in common than most of us realize . . .

  116. What about people who speak English but talk so fast it’s difficult to understand them? I also tend to avoid that kind of difficulty. I think I might also be less trustful of that they say.

  117. The findings from the University of Chicago really show how ethnocentric the US can be. It is sad to see how a country founded on inmigrants from many nations percieves others with an accent as less trustworthy. I think it is a reflection of lack of education, travel oportunities and exposure to other cultures. People with an accent means people can speak at least another language. I wonder if those who percieve others less favorable can even speak, even less write in their own language. Some of the postings here are a clear reflection of that. Get a clue people, the world is becoming smaller and smaller, people speak two, three languages at least. If a company discriminates you against your accent, it is not worth it working for them…

  118. Good stuff. Now I know why as an African, I have a hard time being trusted. I also read somewhere that being very dark skinned like I am can cost me severely in the job market. To make things worse, I have a pretty heavy “African” accent, right, like one exists right? Anyway, I find it pretty LOW that people would judge others based on accents of skin color but that is the nature of the beast here in the west. It is a way of putting down others who may not be like them. I find it hilarious though that based on the comments, we may not know that we have a problem but actually we do! The real problem might be the prejudice we get introduced to as young children.

  119. i dont understand how it can be anything but prejudice. like in the movies, the bad guy has an accent. I work with Europeans who speak 5 languages but with obvious accents. the fact that they could learn so much should make them more trustworthy.
    if its not prejudice then its increadable laziness on the part of the listener, not to be able to figure out what a person is saying. When someone from the midwest asks for a “fark” at the dinner table it doesnt take a great leap of logic to understand its a “fork”

  120. People who wish to learn how to speak with a SAE (standard American English) accent should seek the professional services of a speech language pathologist who specializes in accent reduction therapy. It is usually an intensive 12 week program that focuses on vowel sounds, voice onset timing, prosody, rate, etc. I have worked with many professionals in academia, medicine, and business who received accent reduction therapy and were successful.

  121. The problem is not with people with accents, the problem is with us. We Americans are not exposed to different nations with different languages and accents. The problem is with our ears not with others tongues.

  122. As a legal immigrant, I can tell you that looking different, having an accent can make life miserable. When you come here, just the fact that you look different can cause a mental barrier. To add to it if you can’t communicate properly due to accent, you are always mistrusted. However, gradually you have to overcome your communication. While there is nothing you can do about your looks; there’s plenty you can do with your accent. I am now a successful American so if you are reading this, you can be successful too….

  123. From the other side – I have called my doctor’s office and the hospitals on numerous occasions and often reached someone with a strong accent – not someone born and reared in the US. Once after asking a woman to repeat what she was saying and to enunciate the words I still could not understand what she was saying and asked to speak to a supervisor. When the supervisor was ready to take the call the woman spoke clearer and said “the supervisor is ready to talk and she is african american”. I got it – she thought because I couldn’t understand her I was not wanting to speak to her because she was hispanic. The supervisor may have already known this woman was difficult to understand and I suspect the hispanic-english speaking person was subsequently “talked to” by the supervisor. When I am talking to health care personnel I do want to hear English words – it’s my life at risk.

  124. We are from Colorado (no accent). My daughter recently was not hired into a position she was well qualified for because she did not speak Spanish. This was with a federally funded community health center in Colorado. The clinic did hire a Spanish speaking individual who had no experience. Perhaps she should develop an accent, or what would you call Tex-Mex because it certainly is not Spanish.

  125. Every one has an accent, it all depends on where you are but its very annoying for people to just tune in to an accent rather than what one is saying… No matter what one’s accent might be if you pay attention to what they are saying rather than the accent you can decipher… The world has to go round… Put yourself in someone’s shoes and never think your accent is the gospel truth

  126. My husband is Irish and has a thick Irish brogue. He has been unable to find employment in the US since we moved here nearly 2 years ago from Dublin. He’s an experienced, college-educated professional, but he can’t find a job. He’s had many interviews but never gets the offer. We believe that his accent is holding him back even though English is the only language he speaks. His resume looks great, but when they interview him, we think they are put off by his accent.

  127. I’m from Kentucky, and have a hick from the hills accent so im told.
    Moved to Texas and got work, many people here ask me to repeat myself, and dont grasp even simple expressions I assumed were nationally recognized. I have traveled to many states and texas is the ONLY state that seems so sheltered.
    The fact people here think they have “southern accents” makes me laugh. Its a “western” sound no matter how you put it! Drive to the bluegrass and tenessee and then try and say that.

  128. In my experience, Americans are, bar none, the laziest people when it comes to willingness to understand somebody who speaks with an accent and pre-judging on that basis. It is quite remarkable and striking. I wonder if these guys tested Brits. Many people simply do not give people with accents the time.

    • I strongly disagree. America deals with other accents more so than any other country due to the immigration rates.
      However Mexico seems to be less willing in my experience to tolerate us “gringos” and our ugly english accents.

      • I agree with ME .. with things such as Equal Opportunity Employment Americans can’t simply just not hire someone becuase they have an Indian or Trinidadian accent, if the person is qualified they will be hired and persons just have to try to understand when they speak. It is however, the responsibility of that person to ensure that they speak in a manner that others are able to understand. Some people migrate to countries such as America and expect the people there to learn thier language, slangs and dialects rather than trying to assimilate.

      • I don’t understand where so many Americans got this idea that the US has more immigrants than any other nation. I can’t tell you how wrong you are. Every nation that is more wealthy than any of its neighboring nations experiences this flow of labor. How very ethnocentric of you, ME.

  129. Not only is it challenging to decipher the words of someone with a heavy accent, it’s also tough to interpret what the meaning is behind them. I have a close friend who is South American. Some of the words he says that I construe as meaning one thing end up meaning something totally different. When amongst a group of English-speaking friends I often have to ‘translate’ his English into English that the rest can understand. I’ve witnessed him being overlooked for opportunities because of his articulation.

  130. WJones, I just laughed out so loud, reading your comment. You made my day.

    My 2 cents…

    Communication is the key to be understood by others. People judge you by that. You are better heard even if you have accent, if you can communicate without hesitation. I guess it is the human tendency to think that those who have fear and are less confident do not talk clearly.

  131. The United States is a country of immigrants, so we can expect to hear a great variety of accents around. I agree that we also have to pay attention to our grammar and spelling, otherwise your audience will think we are not smart, and there you lose your credibility. English is an endless language to learn. We can improve everyday by learning new words and their pronunciation.
    I have my accent, and sometimes I just avoid words that are still a challenge to pronounce…Keeping a plain English helps while you are still mastering the language. It has worked for me.

  132. Where I work, two women were recently promoted into management positions above several others who have the education, experience, proven metrics, and seniority over them. They were the only two with strong “southern belle” accents. They use the terms sweety, honey, baby and darlin’ on a regular basis, where the rest of us do not, it is simply unprofessional to say the least. We now watch them struggle as they have no idea what they are doing and both internal and external customers laugh at them and will not take them seriously. They wonder why they keep getting asked to “fetch coffee” when they are managers now….

    • Yeah you are right.. very right. This is a new culture in these countries.. “keep our jobs against foreigners” kind of culture and it doesnt matter if the person hired is the most unqualified person on earth.. provided they “know” them orare professional boot lickers who say ‘honey all the time.

  133. yes i strongly agree that accents underminds employees credibility,this an issue that is affecting our day to day life in this country being qualify for a possition or under qualify. There has been many prospective employees who loose jobs base on the accent from the moment they are being listen to or an accent voice message is being heard.
    this does not apply to only foreigners but the citizens of the nation from other areas of southern or country. If we can put those differences aside and focus on the same comon interest the world would be a better place.

  134. People with foreign accents speak two, three, or more languages. It is almost impossible not to have an accent. After so many years in the US, I now have an accent in both my maternal/paternal languages.

    But….have you guys ever heard an American or an Englishman speaking a foreign language? These people cannot even pronounce names of other presidents, or even of the countries they visit (“I ran” instead of Iran, “I rack”, instead of Iraq, – including the diplomats and the president! Yes prejudice exists, but! Speech has to do with hearing and music – not with knowledge. If you cannot sing properly you’ll never speak another language without accent!

    Please, do not confuse accent for stupidity, or you will be the first victim.

    Guess what – foreign educated people laugh at those “superior” ignoramuses who speak proper English because of what comes out of their mouth, not because of the way it sounds! There is some justice, after all.

  135. For all those who are complaining about ERICKA’S miss spelling: This in Not a F*****! ENGLISH class, even with all the mistakes she made you understood eveything she wrote! idots!!

  136. Every year I see more intolerance and frustration in people who believe they belong to America towards people who “they” think have no right to be here. Unemployment and poor ecconomy definitely has a hand in that. However, I do not believe discrimination of any kind: Race, color, nationality or accent is good or should be tolerated. America was born out of immigration. Except for the native Americans every body has descended from an immigrant (either in recent past or 300 or more years ago). Immigrants (whilte or black or any other color) have brought to this country great value and respect. If you look back to your ancestors, you will realize they had an accent too. But that did not mean they were incompetent or stupid. It just means we are dealing with people who are different in one area but similar in many other.
    I think all individuals should be looking for things that make us similar (i.e. find common ground) before discriminating against a person just because of one difference. I do believe however, that every country deserves people who speaks, writes and understands that country’s language. But accent?? I don’t think it is necessary to have the perfect accent to be accepted, especially in this country with such a rich history of diversity. Ofcourse, unless you are totaly unable to understand the accent, even after trying, please do not judge that person without getting to know them more.
    Just a thought!
    Have a good day guys.

    By the way I am an immigrant too. But I never had a problem with jobs! However, I have seen intolerance in a few individuals who have a hard time accepting people. Most Americans are very good natured and well behaved. I have come to realize along the way that some people just cannot change/accept their faults. They are mean to most people at work except their “best” friends who often are other like minded people like them. I have learnt to be nice to everyone and help out everyone irrespective of their color, accent, nationality or even how they behave towards me. In the end I believe that is what matters. People are going to love and respect you for who you are and not what is outside you.

  137. Anyone who differs greatly from the General American accent affects how he appears to others. Studies have shown that those with Southern or New England accents are generally perceived as
    dumb, and New York-New Jersey accents are considered to be the most annoying to others. New Englanders drop the “R” in words, but New Yorkers do also, and they put the “R” back in where it doesn’t belong as in “wark the dorg.” I wonder if immigrants had trouble with English short “O.” To pronounce the French “U” you purse your lips out to say “U” but when you get your lips out there you say “ee” instead. English short “O” isn’t that difficult but it may be strange to foreigners, and in the immigrant belt all the way from New York west to “Wiscahnson” they substitute a broad “A” sound for the “O” as in saying “Bahston” for Bawston.” In words that should have a broad “A” sound as in “Nevada” they say “Nev-add-a.”

  138. I was born in the US but had the privilege of growing up in Nicaragua and Cuba, coming back to the US in my teen years. Needless to say, I have an accent, both when I speak Spanish and when I speak English. Living in Miami an accent wasn’t a big deal, I mean if they could, people there would try to make spanish the national lenguage and would do without learning english at all. When I moved to Oklahoma I was automaticly Mexican, half the people I encountered didn’t even know where Cuba was. Everywhere I went if there was someone around needing transalation I was called in, assuming that because I have an accent I spoke every and any other lenguage out there. Then working in the International Dept of a local company I realized that educated people (Doctors) had the same idea, and anytime someone had a different accent than the Oklahoman, they were sent to me. I later moved to Texas where in my first job the other 2 ladies in the office constantly looked at each other and said they had no idea what I was saying, and couldn’t understand me. I am now the VP of that company and find my skills to communicate and understand people no matter what their accents, very handy.
    So if you have an accent, an/or if you deal with people with accents, be a little more open minded and try to listen a bit harder. An accent is not a reflection on a person’s education. Stereotyping is incorrect. We should find it a privilege to meet people from other cultures and countries. They all have so much to bring to our lives and we can all learn from each other.

    • Totally agree; knowing two or three languages is a gift and sometimes people is so insecure that they think they are the best. I used to practice conversation skills with a coworker and we had to stop doing that because we were told “people are thinking you are gossiping about them”. Sad so sad. Really, we need to be open mind. Let’s grow up!

  139. This is true, I recently went to a Caribbean island and they don’t seem to trust anyone with an American accent. You would be surprised that not every English-speaking country speak the same kind of english. Afterall pronunciations, enunciations and verbage are the only things that differentiate how we speak the language.

  140. I do find accents a bit difficult to understand and it really irks me when I can understand an international student better then a native. Though I do find it hard to believe that people assume that I am white since I have no accent and was born in the United States, but get an assumption sometimes that I have a chinese accent when people speak to me in person.

    @GK

    You need to look at the bigger picture about the job market. I know you have lost your job but you really need not blame others especially jumping on a terrible bandwagon on blaming the foreigners. We are in an economic slump, and companies are trying to save money by hiring newer workers with less work experience because they do cost less. So that being said, those future employees will be white, asian, black, on a visa, etc.

    I do hate the illegals gaining jobs in the US but do not blame immigrants and those that have working visas, since they took the proper ways of becoming a citizen/legalized method of working here.

    It has been close to 5 monthes for me for being unemployed so I do know how it feels.

    • Agreed, blaming others for the volatility of your career is not only unproductive, it is downright dumb, a lot of people have been displaced as a consecuence of downsizing, outsourcing, new technologies and a plain, old fashioned recession. I went through that, had to go back to school to get another degree and come back to the bad ole’ ‘states from a good, tropical life overseas to make ends meet after G.W. Bush overseas policies screwed the Caribbean Basin economy, but I’m not blaming everybody here for that…

  141. Mnay of you triyed to corect speling mistaks. I see in here it is no that they do not know how to spel, they many not be good with key borad. In todays world, you do not realy need to know the spellings or grammer as we have spel cheks and gramer checs tools every where. Just a suggstion, if you are making a profesional comunication, use the spel check and you are good. Also if you see in my wrting, I delibrately made spelling mistakes, but you could read it with out even realizing there was mistake. It is new proven science how the human mind handles language…..

  142. Apparently no one told our advertisinng and marketing folks about the University of Chicago study, as it seems they have a fascination with the British and Australian accent. What gives? With the number of people out of jobs, can’t we find any home grown spokespersons? It apppears that at least in the field of product pitchmen/women, accent is everything.

  143. In my company, it seems people with British accents are more successful. Maybe it’s because they sound so proper. It sounds like they know what they’re talking about, plus the ladies seem to like it.

  144. I often feel that my slight southern accent places me at a disadvantage within the workforce. I am an educated and experienced health care professional with multiple credentials, however am still perceived as ignorant on occasion.

  145. I agree that the proper accent is important but honestly what we need is to be more tolerant and understand that regardless the American accents or non native English speakers accents we must try to understand each other so we can live in peace.

  146. Are Minnesota accents really that noticeable? I know I’ve lived in MN my whole life but I honestly dont notice it. Although in some regions of MN I deffinately hear the “Fargo” or “New in Town” accent. ie: Dontcha know?

  147. Americans should examine their ways and not be so willing to “discriminate” against those with accents. With globalization the table can easily be turned as we try to do business in foreign cultures where we are the one who have the accents. How would we like it them? A word to the wise is always helpful.

  148. I have an accent. 90% of people I deal with in a daily basis understand everything I say. There is 10% of people who look at me like they are making an effort. I realized that most of them are suburban women. My approach is to spell the word they are not getting.
    I have the highest position in the organization I work, I always went the extra mile to prove that I deserve credibility. At the beginning I was treated like I was not able to perform any duty. Things changed because of me.
    I will be practicing to improve my enunciation all my life, this is my obligation. But do not forget that there are people out there who will not understand a person with accent just because they do not want to. Hopefully those people will not interview me in the future.

  149. yes i strongly agree that accents underminds employees credibility,this is an issue that is affecting our day to day life in this country being qualify for a possition or under qualify. There has been many prospective employees who loose jobs base on the accent from the moment they are being listen to or an accent voice message is being heard.
    this does not apply to only foreigners but the citizens of the nation from other areas of southern or country. If we can put those differences aside and focus on the same comon interest the world would be a better place.

  150. I think we are all guilty of making fun of someone with an “accent”. Some persons take offense others brush it off, but we all do it, some of you must admit.

    • Making fun is one thing but using those excuses to keep someone off work thats straight out seggregation or racism as such people in most cases are non white from these say US or Canada or Europe.. and it is not acceptable. But it is unfortunately wide spread.
      Just come to think of issues such as “Hidden job markets”, and imagine how can the so called job seeker with an accent can fair out in addition to not being known to major players in that field.? It is just sheer selfishness and madness.
      At least people and countries should call spade a spade and stop pretending..

  151. Its so funny that people are so offended at the mere truth of our natural human prejudices. I am a black man that sounds very western. In Canada I sound educated. In the United States I sound “white”. In the Caribbean where I was born I sound like a foreigner and therefore when I am charged for goods in that environment I am charged more. Yet in the place I am considered educated I am discriminated against because of my ethnicity.

    This study is very true and very accurate to how we as people respond to each others differences.

    Today challenge yourself go to a part of town you don’t usually go and shop there. Buy groceries there, pump gas their, take your dog for a walk in a community where you are not the dominant ethnicity and gage yourself and the responses of those around you. Change comes when we learn to change our responses and behaviors from knee jerk and reactionary to righteous.

  152. Who gives a crap how they spell as long as there registered citizens and paying taxes is all I care about. with social security depleating I need all there money put into it so I can continue to LIVE a basic life, now shut up all and go after illegials not citizens.

  153. I have a South-African accent and currently live Orlando,FL ! I have no problems with my accent and all the American people I’ve talked to like my accent (especially the girls)! I’m currently self-employed, but if I ever have to go for a job interview, I think I’ll get the job!

  154. First of all, Americans should not be discriminating against people with accents because they can’t speak proper English. It’s like the pot calling the kettle black. When they get rid of their malapropisms, and things like “we was, I is, they was” then we can sit and chat about foreign accents.

  155. I am a black male, southern, I speak “the queen’s english” in academic and business settings. As my profession is public relations, I’m careful to place my diction and tone in such a way that clients from outside of my race or region may understand me. However, when I’m among friends and family or social settings, I speak a black dialect (some call it Ebonics – whatever) or will pepper my sentiments with colorful depictions using animals (ex. Madder than a junkyard dog). My point is, language is what you make it. English, even as we know or practice it, is NOT the only language on this earth. Yes, it may be the primary language of the most powerful nation but hardly the primary language of humans. There are tribes in Africa who have their own language and it’s not even written.

    Our accents, dialects, vocal inflections describe who we (Americans) are and many times gives others a quick snap-shot of what experiences we may have had. Every language, regardless of country, has its proper way and it’s “slang” or “improper” way. Guess what guys? If I speak gibberish – and people can understand me? My communications courses taught me that we have a shared language.

    I love the way (sarcasm) typical Americans would rather the entire country speak, look and act a certain way. If that what makes you feel comfortable – then I suppose.

    @GK : I’m almost sure you are probably between 40-54 years old. So what a LEGAL, non-American born person is employed while you hit the pavement searching for a job? Should we fire ALL non-natives until we are absolutely sure ALL native born Americans are employed first?

    @bayouqueen: I live in New Orleans but a native for Mississippi, I’m sensitive to our various ways of life here. Our words and the accents used to deliver those words are what make us such a colorful people down here. If the rest of America can’t understand what we’re saying – maybe they should come down to the Cajun Country or to the Greatest City in the World (New Orleans) and get some flavor in their lives.

  156. The first home PC I ever bought was from an ad on eBay. After 4 weeks of waiting for it to arrive I called the company in New York who had advertised the product. I talked to a woman with an Asian accent that was so thick it was impossible to understand her. I finally understood that she was the owner of the company and she had never received my check, but it took an hour and a half of talking and asking her to repeat herself. I sent a replacement check and the PC finally arrived after two more weeks of waiting but it wasn’t what I had ordered and didn’t have the software or memory that had been advertised and I had paid for. I called her again and spent four hours trying to explain the problem. She told me that the PC I ordered was not available anymore because it was so long between the time I ordered it and she received the (replacement) check. Also, she could not provide the upgrade in memory and software because the price of those things had risen so much in those first four weeks that my payment didn’t cover the cost. She wouldn’t agree to letting me send the PC back to her nor would she refund my money. So I was stuck with something I didn’t want and, as it turned out, didn’t work properly. But, because I had so much trouble communicating with her I just threw the PC away and bought one from a local retail establishment where I could get a warranty and I could deal with people I could understand. I wanted to sue this woman because the PC that I received was not what I ordered and was not what was advertised but the language problem was so bad that I didn’t want to deal with her any longer.

  157. I agree with that fact that not having a pefect accent makes you look somewhat less capable of performing a professional job. I have two business degrees (BBA) and strong management experince in both retail and call center. I am fully qualified for the jobs I was seeking; However, I didn’t get a job solely based on my Mexican-American accent. Fourtunately, I have developed a business network in my community and I am accepted with my accent. We speak tex-mex, a mixture of Spanish / English words and it’s seen normal in our area.

    • I honestly think that this report is just a way to create more prejudices among people. Accents are cute and project culture. Every person has an accent, even the person that wrote this article. We cannot relate the lack of succeed or the lack of getting a job because of an accent. A great example that accents does not represent a barrier to achieve a goal or getting a job, is the governor of California; Arnold Schwarzenegger. A Job is base on knowledge, skills and personality, good communication, not base on an accent. There are people that have great communication skills with accents, and we also have the opposite, people that express well but do not have any communication skills. Work hard to achieve your goals, and learn new languages to teach culture and to understand society. Accents are interesting. As long the person can communicate well enough to perform a task, is good enough to find a job and to be proactive.

      To the writer of this article: Do me a favor, write something more productive and positive. Try to learn a new language, which will enable you to understand where the accents are coming from and why there are so unique.

  158. Well, well, well….
    I am an immigrant and have lived here for 21 years. Yes, people can be quite prejudice toward others with accents although my grammar is far better than that of the majority of those who were born here. I even developed an accent in my native language since I only speak to my father once a week. This country is a melting pot of many different cultures such as most European countries but yet I have not encounters a nation more ignorant toward anyone else but themselves as here. I often encounter people who will make a joke of what I say although they perfectly understand what I say since it is just a hint of an accent or they ask me to say something specific hoping I come out like a total idiot and I always prove them wrong in the end. Have we forgotten that most people who were born in this country are not truly American although they don’t have an accent but are descendants of other cultures? The truly native people are those who have been here before any of our ancestors arrived on this continent. Let’s not forget these facts and learn to go beyond our own prejudices and not “judge a book by it’s cover”. Maybe all of you who have made such “lovely” comments about accents should visit a foreign country and try to speak their language. See how well you do.

    • Seems like you only encounter so called “ignorant” people in your daily dealings, how very sad for you. However, not all Americans are ignorant to the fact that in fact, we all truly come from some other lineage or from somewhere else. And I don’t know anyone who would choose to live in a foreign country without making some sort of effort to learn the basics to get along and learn all they could to try and communicate effectively. But when I’m talking to a nurse or doctor who has been in this country for, oh lets say 20 years or so and they can’t give me an accurate medication dosage, or the plumber from another country who has been here awhile has to call someone else to communicate to me what the problem is, that is a problem my friend. so get rid of the chip on your shoulder and don’t group all us “ignorant americans” together.

      • Uh, I’m pretty sure that a doctor who can’t give you an accurate medication dosage has deficiencies in his/her medical expertise, not language skills. And trust me, no one prefers to be unable to communicate, especially when it might impact their bottom line – like oh, say, a plumber. No one wants not to assimilate. Some people are just better at it than others. Talk about a chip on your shoulder.

  159. Accents are interesting, everyone has one believe it or not!! I have one foreign to this country and it has caused some problems but mostly it intrigues people, which is annoying too as they tell me all the time “I love your accent.” like I have much I control over that as I can’t even hear it, Can you hear yours?? But working in customer service I found that there are some words you just have to say different than what you are used to for people to understand. One that I found interesting is that most Americans say “Thirdy, Fordy, Fifdy, Sixdy, Sevendy, Eighdy, Ninedy.” Instead of “Thirty, Forty, etc” Curious I thought that they exchange the spelt T sound for a D sound and so I had to change the way I said it too for them to understand what number I was acutally saying!! And apparently I used to say “Coke” like “Cake” so I had to change that one too. Funny about the wanting “ass” for “ice”!! Where I live here in the Rocky Mountains they drop the T’s off words like “Mountains” “Hunting” “Kindergarten” making “Moun ains”,
    “Hun ing” “Kindergar en” I leave the gap where the T is supposed to be as that’s exactly how they say it, they leave a gap! They also say “Creak” for “Creek” and “Erin” for “Aaron” and they think I talk funny!!!!

  160. Oh, and by the way. I am proud of my accent. I pronounce “chocolate chip” with an “sh” and confuse chin with shin (and viseversa) all the time. My husband laughs about it, my 8yr. old corrects me, and my 4 yr old demands I sing to him in Spanish. I am proud of my accent and my always tanned to perfection skin. I am proud to be mixed and know all the different ethnicities that make me who I am. I am proud to stand for others, and try to help people whether it is by transalating, lending a hand or starting a conversation so that they don’t feel as if they are being ignored.
    It sad that our motto now is to blame others for our problems. We point the finger at one person as if that one person could make it all better all by themselves. Our closed minded mentality makes us ignorant. And our behavior, and ignorance is catching up with us. Look back at history and learn from it. teach your children to look beyond what is outside a person, to look into that person’s eyes. We all bleed red. We are all human beings.

    • Spanish accents are sexy. I have studied a number of languages and English is probably the ugly stepsister. Harsh and choppy and lacking in grace. Hope you are teaching your kids Spanish!

  161. Amusing how the article itself starts out with a nasty bit of gender bigotry.

    “The harder it is for us to understand a co-worker, the less likely we are to trust what he or she is saying, according to a recent study.”

    So if it was a man, we would trust him? It’s only a problem with women?

  162. I work in the healthcare field, and I have to say it is very dismaying to work with people from other countries that have very strong accents and cannot effectively communicate. This is the one field where it is of utmost importance to be able to pass along accurate information, or medical errors can occur. What is even more dismaying to me is that facilities will still hire on people who are obviously not making an effort to improve their language skills to more effectively communicate with coworkers and patients.

  163. The study could probably fail at pointing out that it has not determine if this is a cultural perception (global or local): Is the reaction the same in other countries other than USA? Is it the same at locations where people may be more exposed to foreingners than others who do not?
    At times we are faced more with intellectual discrimination than anything else due to the centralized vision USA has of its position in the universe. As we come more and more to realize that there are other countries and cultures with knowledge and values, we will be more in acceptance of their accents as we may do to their music.
    Case in point: try grading a world recognized genius who does not speak or write English by asking how much ‘two plus two’ (not ’2+2′) is. He/she will surely fail kindergarden.

  164. As an immigrant, believe we have enough open minded people in this wonderful country to have a decent life/job. I attended college here and I also passed the CPA exam in VA. I am realistic about communications and I do not expect everybody accept my foreign accent but I realize that many people respect you when they realize what I have accomplished. I appreciate the fact that a managing partner in a local CPA firm hired me right at the initial interview even she was aware that many of her clients would not accept me right away. She continued being the contact and did the work. Little by little the clients started knowing me. I did more of my communication by email which was very convenient and due to the nature of the work I had proof in writing about questions I made and their answers. Since I left my native country to start a new life here, I knew that would one of challenges I had to confront and I do not blame anyone just I try to do my best. I am not too worry about some narrow minded people I enjoy those open minded who I feel happy to serve.

  165. That is why a work for an importer. My accent is my accet. Wouldn’t you think that ability to speak more than one language should give you more credit?

  166. Accents: i am a computer instructor in a computer inst. sometimes my Boss shout at me during inquiries, it does’nt stop me from dischargen my duty truthfully and developing my skill… ozaid@live.com

  167. I was born in an anglophone country and moved to the US when I was in my early 20-ties. But I have never encountered much oral communication issues! I teach, and all of my students communicate with me seamlessly. A few of them are curious about my accent, and find it interesting! But when I first started to teach, a couple of students dropped by the dean’s office to claim that they could hardly understand me. The dean said to them that he could understand me easily, and offered them to meet with me and him to iron out the complain. The 2 students declined, and I have never again had an “accent” complain since. So far I have been teaching for 15 years, and I have worked in the business world too (about 7 years), but there was no “accent” issue during the business job experience. I think the “accent” can becomes an issue all depends on the level of intelligence of those you interact with. The boneheads are always going to have issues with evertthing!

  168. Unfortunately this can be true. I was raised in the Pacific NW, moved to the south and after 30 years moved home. It did affect my job hunting and people always came back to my “accent”. I am a very articulate person and although never had a problem with being understood, people thought my accent was “cute”.

  169. I grewup in another country, did all my education in English, but i have an accent in America. I have tried to change it to sound more american, I try to talk slowly and clearly and people dont have a problem understanding me. My native language goes at 100mph…i have to slow down my english speaking to 5 mph and things go ok. Its quiet a balancing act when brain is on the 3rd sentence and mouth is on the first. Then every year I go to visit my country and hardly speak any English there and its like starting all over again with my American-english accent. I interview people for jobs, and knowing the accent issues one goes through I dont find the job seekers with accent as less credible. But I can understand this can happen in other places. (ps: I left that quiet instead of quite purposely in there for those grammer mistake hunting creeps…lol).

  170. I still cringe when I think about my college calculus professor. He was asian and his accest was so horrible that we couldn’t understand anything he said.

    Seemed like a nice guy, but he shouldn’t have been teaching.

  171. Having an accent in a professional work environment is a detriment. No matter how much we may want to believe that hard work and positive production are the only key factors in succeeding in an office, reality will always have a striking blow to the naive. For instance, lets say there is a group of institutional investors from a Houston based oil company and their lead negotiator is a Harvard Law attorney who speaks in a way that makes War&Peace look like it was written in crayon. Do you think the investment firm would send someone with even the slightest accent to close the deal? It can possibly go both ways. If the investors were from Korea it maybe conducive to that firm to send a Korean-American employee to close the deal, but in reality many Asian companies (especially those from Korea and Japan) want to see “American” employees oversee their accounts in an American office. For whatever reason (say it be an image set by the american media or film industry) many captains of foreign industry opt for doing business with companies that fit “the mold” of the American Company (essentially the pictures you will find in promotional catalogs for Exxon, JPMC, and Jones Lasalle). I am not a pessimist, just a realist. Call it what you will, but this is how it is in most offices. I have brokers in my office and the ones who execute the best are the ones who speak eloquently and with no accents. We have a few with accents that manage our off-shore accounts in Brazil. When we need to deal with those investors they knock the negotiations out of the park with a homerun. When I have them speak with investors here at home, all they get is a “no thank you” and a hang up. I would say the only accent that can be of any benefit to employees in the professional work force is a British accent. At the end of the day production is the key to success in business and American businesses produce best with fluid english or British accents. Keep in mind, when I say British accents I’m saying more Hugh Grant and less Guy Ritchie.

  172. In the UK specially England one knows the by the accent if they are working class or not, I have studied in Public School there and we had some with scholarships and were made fun because of their broad accent.
    One can hear the ones that try to changed it like Mrs Teacher.
    It is ok to have an accent if one speaks and uses the proper words.
    I know people from Texas that have taken classes to change the way the speak.
    I have a slight accent in my english,and I had never had a problem, I have never tried to erase it, I like it, it is part of my personality, as a Linguist it helps my work.

  173. Languages are so beautiful and one is not better than the other. In order to properly learn a language thoroughly and pronounce it correctly; one must also learn its phonetics and learn the culture of its country. If we want to live in a particular country, one must strive to assimilate to its proper language usage. To put it simply, “Love it or Leave it”.

  174. When I first moved to California from North Carolina I could not get a job. I was college educated, and held an Executive Assistant position to the Dean of a large university but could not even secure an entry level secretaries job. My husband said it was my accent but I didn’t believe him. Finally an interviewer told me that my accent would be charming at his cocktail parties but that he didn’t want his phone answered with it. Go figure.

  175. EVERYONE HAS AN ACCENT

    Go to any place in the US and the people in a different state will pick up on the fact that you are not from their state!!

  176. I am a customer relation executive, this is what you call a telemarketer from bangladesh. I dont have that thick accent, but i do have an accent. Now when when I am taking calls, there are mixed reaction of people, some are good, some are ok and some are racists, calling me paki,or asking me to go back to my country, and sometimes even though I am speaking in english, they ask me to speak in english. MAN it pisses me off.

    You have to understand, we are not from the same region, and we are not supposed to be speaking english, you should respect us atleast trying to use the language to communicate.

  177. I use to speak with different nationals: Americans, Aussies, Brit. Accent isn’t an issue at all. As long as you know how to speak fluent English. I ain’t living in the US, and I’m glad I can speak different languages.

  178. I’m southern and have an accent. I married a man from the mid west. Southern “talkers” are not deemed smart.

    TV views southerners in the same manner. We’re all toothless, mobile home living, beer drinking, domestic violence arresting simpletons….

    My father-in-law lovingly refers to me as his “smart hillbilly”

    If you have a southern accent you are viewed as simple, sweet, a doormat and just a bit ignorant.

    So spare me the “oh poor immigrant accent” it’s happening amongst us natives too.

    • Many countries have regional accents that the rest of the country deems less smart. In the US, it is defintely the Southern accent. No exagerration on your part, that is for sure. My mother worked to lose hers when she came north and she succeeded except for a couple words that would slip from time to time.

  179. Well the ignorant people who try to talk about the accent are just racist, because they see you in a better position if you came way after them. in the other hand some great people are amazed about the accomplishment done etc, so just avoid losers who try to make the accent as a weakness after all, how many languages do they speak??? ENGLISH and ENGLISH and not a Proper one!!!!

  180. It is important to sound articulate and educated, no matter where you come from. Henry Kissinger had an accent and was highly respected. So many Americans born and educated here do not bother to speak proper English nowadays. Why hassle the foreigners, many of whom who are multi-lingual and more eduated than many Americans? One can improve one’s accent with a little work, but a boor will remain a boor.

  181. WELL, I DO SPEACK 4 LANGUAGES INCLUDING ENGLISH, I DO HAVE AN ACCENT IN 3 OF THEM, I HAVE BEEN TRUSTED IN 99% FROM MY FORMER EMPLOYERS.
    WHAT COMPANY OR INDIVEDUOL TRUST AN IMMPORT LIKE ME, OVER 3/4 OF A MILLION DOLLARS? JUST MY WORD WAS GOOD ENOUGH.
    IF YOU FIND ANY NATIVE AMERICAN THAT YOU CAN TRUST 1/2 MILLION DOLLARS, YOU LET ME KNOW.
    IT IS NOT THE ACCENT THAT METTERS.

  182. I whole-heartedly disagree with the racism comment. I knew SOMEONE would say that. I have a Western Art History class and I’m pretty sure the teacher is from China. (I don’t know why she would be teaching in the U.S. considering its current…situation.) She has a TERRIBLE accent. Not only does it make her harder to understand, but it’s just plain ANNOYING. I would understand if she had just moved here and had a heavy accent or something. She’s teaching a LECTURE class though! And she’s been doing so for 3-4 years! If you just moved here and speak any kind of English, that’s fine and completely understandable that you’d have an accent, even expected. If you’ve been here awhile and are teaching a lecture class though, you might want to fine tune your skills a bit.

    • Hey dude, 3-4 years IS having just moved here. What makes you think she’s not trying to “fine tune” her accent? Do you have any idea how hard it is? My parents are still working on theirs after having been here for 33 years. And yes, you’re racist. Why be annoyed by an accent? Genuinely annoyed? I hear that crap all the time – Americans find East Asian accents annoying moreso than any others. Grow up.

  183. I was seriously injured on a construction job,heavy machinery due to zero communication with illegal co-workers.When OSHA investigated nothing was done guess zero communication is not a work hazzard according to the Government,also got screwed by workmans comp.Could’nt file law suit in Texas if the employer provides workmans comp they have a free pass to any neglet,the only way I could have been compensated is if a third party was involved,for instance if the manufacturer of the heavy machinery was at fault.You got to love America!! I would have made out better if I would have spilled McDonalds coffee on me LMAO,what a joke.

  184. This is normal.Even people that speak the same language identfy one another by their accent.All got to do with your geagraphycal location.Some pronounciations will be slightly deeper with the same words. Even, in my country Liberia.People of the Kpelleh tribe can easily identify that some one is kpelleh but from a particular region base on pronounciation of a particular word in kpelleh. The work place is not affetcted by those pronounciations.

  185. In New Jersey you must have very high TOEFL score to get Professional Engineer’s License. This applies to all foreign educated and born individuals in cluding those who are born, educated in United Kingdom.

  186. I would like to know if the study took into consideration the real reasons as to why accents made it harder it is for most Americans to understand someone. As a non-english native living in the States for over 25 years I have concluded it is not that the accent makes it difficult is that in most cases the listener gets too preoccupied with trying to figure out what type of accent it is and miss the entire subject of the converstaion. My wife – Australian_- speaking the same language but with a distinctive accent has the same problem. People notice the accent immediately trying to identify origin and too busy noticing the little nuances in your pronunciation to keep track of what is said. While working in the Netherlands and in Switzerland i never encountered this problem. Seems like countries where multiple languages are teached and known are a bit more alert and not bothered by accents as much as Americans. Listen to what I am trying to say, not the way I pronounce that one word and trying to figure out whether I am from Argentina or Spain.

  187. I am born and raised in Canada; we hear all kinds of accents local and foreign. It is simply a matter of asking someone to slow down and pronounce words, as they should be sounded out in English.

  188. I found this article extremely interesting. Foreign accents are not always a problem unless listeners have a problem understanding. In the business world, mis-communications can reduce productivity, be costly, and sometimes (like in the medical professions) life threatening. I own a business in Wisconsin that provides training to people who speak English as a second language to help them with accent reduction (also called accent modification). We work specifically on English pronunciation – not basic English vocabulary and grammar. The goal is not to take away the person’s identity, but rather to have the speaker be understood the first time something is communicated. This cuts down on frustration from both the listener as well as the SPEAKER’S side! For more information, Google “accent modification” and your state for professionals who offer this type of training.

  189. Less Credible? that is not the question here. Capability should be the issue at hand. What is the nature of the job that needs to be perfomed?

    As an African immigrant that has worked in the corporate world, I’ve noticed that most people tend to focus on “how you say/enunciate” rather than “what you are actually saying”. As a result the message is lost and the blame placed on the speaker rather than the listener.As someone stated earlier, if we focused on improving our listening skills, communication would be a whole lot smoother.

    I can just about understand any person from any corner of the world…Asia, Middle east, Europe, South/Central America……just by LISTENING CAREFULLY. Try it!

  190. I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS WITH AN ACCENT AS LONG AS THEY ARE ARTICULATE AND ELOQUENT.
    ENGLISH IS A LANGUAGE SPOKEN ALL AROUND THE WORLD AND WE CANNOT EXPECT ALL ENGLISH SPEAKERS HAVE THE SAME ACCENT.
    ONE THING I DO NOT TOLERATE IS GOING TO CONEY ISLAND HOSPITAL AND THE DOCTORS (MOSTLY FROM INDIA) THEY GIVE ME A DIAGNOSIS OF MY ILLNESS AND I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT THE HECK ARE SAYING, WHEN IT COMES TO HEALTH, I THINK THEY SHOULD HIRE DOCTORS NOT ONLY WITH A GREAT COMMAND OF ENGLISH BUT ALSO WITH GOOD PRONUNCIATION

  191. Im an Imigrant in the USA and at work I fell that my coworkeers when is time to make decisions they never take in consideration what I have to say. I have bachelors degree and they only have high school diploma .But because my accent I think they dont give me credibility .Its sad.

  192. This article is good. But are you going to leave out the fact that if a person is born in a place, he tends to behave ike the people of such environment. Thesame thing goes for language. How do you expect, for instance a-35-year old person from another race, culture, background and social environment to forget those things he’s imbibe for the past 3 decades. Except we are kidding, such a person would just become the second best because the originality of himself is not being put out from him, all because he wants to mimic or imitate the way others talk, he will only make more mistakes than what he’s trying to protect.
    Accent or no accent, if a person can carefully choose his words and put them aright, i think accent will be a secondary issue and the listeners too should be attentive because everybody can’t communicate in thesame way he/she has been used to hearing for over the years.

  193. I was born and raised in Germany and came to the US when I was 25 years old. A lot of people say they can not hear an accent when I speak English. I do think that people can loose their accents, but not on purpose. Some people have more difficulty with an accent than others…just like math. You might be a math genius and your best friend can’t add 2 plus 2. People learn differently and that includes speech.
    I also work for an International company and speak German every single day. We have employees from all over the world and we have interviewed several people lately that came from different countries. I can honestly say that we had potential candidates who spoke such a bad English and/or had such a strong accent that we just could not hire them because people would not be able to understand them over the phone.

  194. Being a foreigner with an accent and having a non-English sounding name make you an object of ridicule in America. As a licensed architect educated in this country, I have experienced discrimination because of my accent and name in all areas of my professional career. I know that there are many foreigners who have had similar experiences.

  195. This article is misleading. It’s not that native English speakers find people with accents less trustworthy, it’s that we find what is said less trustworthy. And that makes perfect sense; if you can’t understand someone, and if they don’t speak well, why should you think they’re communicating well? They may know something, but not say it so that others understand.

    I love accents of all kind and I’m multi-lingual. But as a native English speaker, I understand that sometimes accents get in the way.

    • you are absolutely right to point that out. Just because someone has an accent, I am not going to judge them. However, I do look at the whole picture, as I do with anyone I am speaking to. Are they distracted, hesitant, frustrated, sloppy looking or disheveled? All these elements will affect how you take in the information from the speaker, and all these elements paired with a strong accent may breed reluctance to believe what they are saying.

  196. It’s not accents. Accents are charming and natural. It’s when someone is in a position where they need to communicate in the standard language of wherever they are working and they do not have a decent grasp of said language. If you work in a public position or one where communication is vital, then it is frustrating for all involved. It’s not just in America where people find someone lacking the command of English frustrating. This is a world wide concept. People find it equally insulting in other countries when Americans go into a public situation or transaction and do not have the basic skills to communicate in that country’s language. It feels rather arrogant and disrespectful, that someone feels everyone else should accomodate their inability to communicate in the national or regional language, espcially if they have chosen to live and work in that place.

  197. I wouldn’t trade my accent for the world. Its a very distinguishing attribute especially being someone of African decent. I have a jamaican accent mixed with american linguistics and the females find it so sexy.

  198. Hi There,

    I moved to US when I was 21 years old. I speak four different languages and I’m very proud of it. I have an accent and I can tell you that in my profession this is advantage. Depending on how you look at the things I can understand some people being frustrated when they are speaking to some technical support that is trying to fix their PC or something similar. I work as a marketing person in medical devices industry and I can tell you that in US percentage of native English speakers vs. foreign languages is 40%/60% that is involved in this industry. People, you need to understand that language plays big role in deferent field. I remember when I moved to US my accent was chick magnet. I had a different girlfriend every week and that was fun. I have never attended any US schooling systems and comparing my English to someone that graduated from High School and college here in the states is not comparable, but I can tell you that 90% of all Americans are not speaking proper English. Look at the new generations and all abbreviations that they are using today. I can predict that in 10 years older population will not even be able to understand their own kids when they speak. Text messaging, face book and my space are all contributing to this problem. My hard work and my continuous persistence are my biggest success in this country. This country has no limit for any person and if you work hard stay on your path and you will succeed. No offense to any Americans (I’m one of them), but all I hear from US born people are complains on how foreigners are taking their jobs and how they have to pay taxes. One advice, get off of your lazy rear and work harder. It may help you…
    God Bless America!!!

  199. This article interests me because I have the same problem in reverse.

    I was born and raised in Cincinnati, and in english have a normal midwestern accent. supposedly the most neutral North American English accent.

    I have lived in North Carolina which has a large Mexican immigrant population.
    I am a retired Police Officer, and I learned Spanish on the streets.
    When I speak Spanish people cringe when they hear me.
    They say I use a very limited vocabulary and sound like a uneducated three year old from Chiapas.

    • Exactly! When you meet a person and talk to them, you should always ignore the less important things like accent, skin color, background, etc. and instead try to see inside the person and the content of what they are saying to see their true self! Don’t let appearance fool you!

    • I think,we just need to respect and accept each other regardless their accents.Yes, I do have an accent, but I can speak other languages. Can you? Why can you undestand your parent’s and grand parent’s accents and cannot understand all other people accents? I think it is just a personal cultural problem.I met here people who thought that English was the only language in the world. By the way, there are more than 6800
      differnt languages in the world.

  200. One more thought,

    If you can speak multiple languages expect your salary to be at least 15% higher then anybody else’s who does not speak other then English language.

  201. I am a travel nurse, born and raised in the South. A couple of years ago, while on an assignment just south of San Francisco, my 8 year old cancer patient told me “I like the way you talk”. She was adorable and I knew she not only liked me, but trusted me. I’ll never forget that moment.

  202. Some accents are an advantage. British accents always grab people’s attention in a positive way. Ialways asssume people from India are professionals and smart, too. Spanish accents are so common here that I hear them like an american dialect and there is a range from. I am embrassed to say, however, that when I hear a southern US accent, especially a heavy one, I make assumptions about lack of education or intelligence.

    • Hanna,
      Thanks, at least, for admitting it. Having a Southern US accent is more detrimental than almost any other accent but, in fact, it is not related in any way to whether the individual actually has intelligence. It is, in part, result of media over and over using the accent to stereotype in a certain way. It is one form of prejudice that is still completely acceptable to foster.
      In some ways, also, the NY accents (Bronx, Brooklyn, etc) receive the same type of prejudicial response based on stereotypes. Again, cartoon and television shows help to foster this, as well.

  203. Southern slow, or slur, speech duns the listener into a lack of comprehension skills. While a lazy left lip, numbed from an accident years ago, results in a mumble when interrupted from thought, I continue with lucid response. The other party(s) loose comprehension skills, again, and immediately stare in wonder, wondering if I am intoxicated.
    I loose points and irregardless of competence loose respect (irregardless).

    Hey!

  204. I learned early on that I had to speak at least two different languages while living here in the US. However, both languages are English. My first language is Southern American English but I’ve lived in New England for the past 10 years.
    I’m lucky in that I can emulate the “General American Accent.” Otherwise I would constantly be drawing attention to my Tennessee accent and the prejudiced responses that it can elicit. So, that said, I speak Tennessean at home and when in public I speak, as much as possible, General American. It’s not the same as the New England accent but it’s certainly more acceptable than Southern. However, I do find Southern accents comforting and pleasing to the ear more than any other accent in the US. I would include African-American English in that group, as well. Naturally, I think this is the case for most of us because we gravitate to what is familiar.
    As for hiring anyone with an accent: I think it can be an asset if the person speaks clearly, is intelligent, and knows how to communicate the information that is necessary.

  205. Having an accent does not affect at all your performance when you work in a field dealing with numbers (accounting, mathematics, etc). A heavy accent can make your job difficult if you have a lot of communication though.

    I totally agree that if you come to US after a certain age you will have the accent for ever and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  206. I am a native New Yorker with a heavy Bronx accent. I have been living in South West Texas for over 16 years now, and have been blatantly discriminated against in the workplace due to my accent. Although I am told that my accent is charming, I strongly believe that I have been denied positions of employement, and promotions where I currently work as a direct result of accent discrimination. For years it was always, ‘You Sound Like Rocky (Balboa)’, the last few years it’s been ‘Hey Tony Soprano’. I guess being an Italian American doesn’t help my cause either.

  207. I do not have the “science” regarding how accents are developed and become a part of who we are; however, it is important to note that spelling and grammarare learned skills.

    The unfortunate thing about spelling and grammatical skills, is that they are no longer a priority or rather not given any importance in elementary schools today. If I am not mistaken, it is all about the ‘whole language’ thing.

    To make matters worse, anything and everything when it comes to grammar and spelling is acceptable on the internet. People do not feel the need to learn proper spelling since the use of incorrect spelling and one letter words are now in vogue.

    Disclaimer: This is an unedited opinion.

  208. I actually can’t believe I would get involved in this ruckus. However, 44 years ago at age 17, I came to the U.S. from a N. European country. During those years I always had a job and raised 2 Professionals. Along the way, I also encountered ignorant people as far as my accent goes. My command of the English language is exceptional and will put most native speakers to the test. My speech is just somehow naturally “charmingly” accented. I did not teach my children my native tongue and hear about this tragedy periodically, as they now realize what they missed out on. As for myself, I am quite comfortable in my foreign skin and proud of my heritage. America was the melting pot of the world. People came and assimilated, we have gotten away from that.

  209. I am wondering who got the current state of the U.S economy into turmoil!
    certainly not the people with an accent. I noticed also that people without an accent tend to play dumb when someone with an accent is trying so hard to explain something or make a point!

  210. I’m of European origins, and have always had a positive reaction to my accent, both socially and in a job setting. I think it can make you more unique and memorable, especially after an interview!

  211. Accent here is a big deal, I’ve been here in the US for 8 years and my accent is very strong, my officemate always mocking me the way i talk, sometimes laugh and telling me that sorry i don’t speak French which is, he is just being prejudice because am not French. but i just ignore him because i know the work more than he does….

  212. OMG. Here we go again!! Do individuals use brain cells and think before uttering such garbage? ALL individuals have an accent. However, your accent will be different to another individual’s depending on your place of origin ( and that does not only mean being born outside of the U. S.). The United States of America is about the only place I know that perpetuates such ignorance. I have a beautiful DIFFERENT accent to the usual so-called “American” accent, and I LOVE it because I speak PROPER English. When individuals criticize accents, they are really highlighting their ignorance, narrow world view, and lack of interaction with diverse cultures and individuals. Most of these individuals have lived in a narrow box all of their lives. If you have had the privilege to travel all over Europe, you would notice that individuals on that side of the world speak more than one language and they’re happy with their ability to enjoy not only the various languages but also the vast cultural experiences afforded them through their linguistic skills. If having a different accent correlates with decreased credibility, then where does that leave the Southern accent and totally unheard of “English” statements like “I’m fixing to go or I’m fixing to come?”

    To all the accent haters—- EDUCATE YOURSELVES and get over it, because YOU DO HAVE AN ACCENT !!!! Maybe you weren’t aware of this, but now that you know, please do NOT tell me “YOU HAVE AN ACCENT.” In my mind this translates into “IGNORANT; NEVER BEEN ANYWHERE, NEVER DONE ANYTHING.”

      • You go girl! Thumbs up! I heard this before ” “I’m fixing to go or I’m fixing to come?”. Because I am a non-native spearker, at first, I thought was it me? Hell no, definitely not me! So, should I not trust the Americans from the South?

  213. Accents equal mispronunciations (similar to misspellings).
    I found the responses to Erica right on par with the accent issue. People are hung up on Erica’s misspellings and not only lose sight of her point, but discredit her qualifications to earn a permanent position. This is exactly what happens with accents. Accents, in my opinion, can be defined as merely mispronunciations of words. I find it distracting when my Chinese born boss mispronounces words to the point that the word is unrecognizable. Sometimes a point is missed due to mispronunciation, or the distraction created by the strong accent, and brilliant thoughts are not only discredited but occasionally simply missed.
    Consciously working on eliminating mispronunciations, has greatly improved my communication skills. Keen listeners are intrigued to detect a faint accent, but most people simply focus on what I have to say.

    • People from New Orleans and people from The Bronx, or Brooklyn sound very similar except for a slight southern twang added to some words.

  214. I enjoy trying to figure out where the person is from from their accent and do find it a little frustrating when doing business with someone with an accent that is difficult to understand if I am face to face with that person. But on the telephone it is impossible and I am sorry but I will terminate the call if I cannot understand the person on the other end thus not doing business with that company.

  215. Learning the English language is not exactly easy… I grew up in the US and I am still learning… So what about accent, it is the person we should evaluate and their job qualification… Right?

    • I agree, but unfortunately I have found that perception is everything no matter how qualified you may be, or how articulate you speak. I have found that people tend to steriotype you once they hear your accent.

  216. It’s not always that bad. People are different everywhere, and most people in US are very nice and open-minded. At least, this is my experience. I am Russian, and my husband is Russian too. He has very distinctive eastern European accent. My accent is slightly better, but still there. We never felt discriminated based on it. Very often you can discharge a tension with a joke. When my husband did a presentation at a conference, he was advised to mention his accent at the most beginning and make a joke about it. It worked out very well. He started his speech with: “Howdy, y’all. You probably noticed my accent and guessed that I am from Texas.” Since his accent was SO not southern, people in the audience laughed, and the presentation was a big success.
    Your personal abilities and charm can overwrite any impression you made with your accent. As long as you are smart and nice to people, your accent will be eventually disregarded. That’s, of course, if your accent is easy to understand, and does not interfere with your job functions.
    It would be nice if people on this post were nicer to each other. Spelling is not the topic of this thread, I am sure there are other postings that discuss spelling in details.

    • That is so funny! I’m going to tell that joke to my Turkish boyfriend who’s a professor in the US. He’s been told his accent sounds Russian! :) Maybe next time if he opens his lecture with the kind of joke, like your husband did at the conference, people will pay less attention to it and spend less time worrying about it.

  217. What I would not be wasting my money on is hiring employees that browse the net all day long and participate in heated discussions, do not care whether they have accents or not…

    • do you include yourself in that statement Z? Or maybe just jealous that some jobs allow the legally alotted 15 minute break at work and that people are free to spend that time however they choose?

  218. I was born in Europe, raised in Africa and living in the US for the last 16 years!! Talk about accent issues, I have it all. There are both good and bad sides to it; I have the mistrust of close minded idiots who automatically judge me right away and then I have those who find me quite interesting and want to know more about my different cultural experiences. In communicating better, I have developed the habit of having to spell out certain words while talking to people right in the midst of my conversations. It helps a lot.
    When people tell me I have an accent, I tell them I like theirs’ too, and I get that surprise look like “I don’t have an accent!!”. Yes everyone has an accent, but it becomes more evident once you get out of your local. But that it will affect things like getting a job, thats trully a shame!!

  219. this is the dumbest thing ever….Ive been in the states for almost ten years…and i have tried getting rid of my accent because i feel insecure about it…but its not something u can help a lot of times…Saying that just because u have an accent you are less likely to be liked is stupid…people should judge you on your character and integrity and the way you carry yourself not if you have an accent or not….Most of us with an accent are proud of where we came from and wanna keep a part of that with us..We came to the States for different reasons (i was adopted) but i dont believe our character should be judged on weather we have an accent or not…..

  220. Not just “foregin” , Regional American accents affect the way we perceive the intelagence of a person. Why is it that when some one starts speaking with a prounounced souther drawl and our veiw of their intelagence drops; yet the same word spoken in an Oxford/BBC accent are far more believable.

  221. This research only confirms what some of us have known and experienced for a long time. There’s another dimension to it – some equate a foreign accent with being uneducated and sometimes ignorant. I have all American degrees, including a Ph.D. And yet I still come across people who, based on my foreign accent, would ask me if I understand some simply written instructions. Accent discrimination is a clear case of judging a book by its cover.

    • You are absolutely right. We just need to learn the rules, the american way to do business. As I said in my posting below: if you are good at what you do then there is no problem. A lot of people think that we come here to steal their jobs (ignorant thinking). They don’t think that if there is no inmigration the country’s economy would not have enough labor force (blue or white collar) to grow and it would be destructive (research NAIRU). Whatever is the reason, everytime a come accros an a…hole who brings my accent to the table I always say: At least I speak english in a way nobody in his/he wholer family can speak my country’s language.

  222. that’s the very reason I am in computer field. I don’t deal with people as much as business people. But again, with globalization around the corner, everyone will have to deal with accents. Chinese will be hearing american accents, americans australians accents and so on … So even accent might play into equation, skills are more crucial.

  223. This is the most useless article to be written now we’re being judged on our accents to get hired not our work ethics and credibility! GO AMERICA!?

  224. Everyone has an accent. I disagree with the article. If I’m looking to diversify my staff and I know I have staff who can speak other languages, then, I see that as a plus because I can now do business with other countries, etc. But the fact is that everyone has an accent, so I don’t see what the big deal is.

  225. I am from the West Indies. I have a MBA. I was told that I do not fit the profile for a job to advise Hedge Fund Managers for a leading Canadian Company. I was told I do not fit the profile for that job. I know it was because of my accent. Anyhow I got a job in a College in Accounting. I do not have to speak to many person now, and they are comfortable with my accent.

  226. I think,we just need to respect and accept each other regardless their accents.Yes, I do have an accent, but I can speak other languages. Can you? Why can you undestand your parent’s and grand parent’s accents and cannot understand all other people accents? I think it is just a personal cultural problem.I met here people who thought that English was the only language in the world. By the way, there are more than 6800 differnt languages in the world

  227. The question is not whether accents undermine credibility, rather it’s whether accents trigger people’s biases and prejudices against those they perceive as foreign, different, or uneducated. To associate people’s accents to credibility is absurd and disingenuous.

  228. What it is the standard American English anyway?
    Maybe a person with a stronger accent would not be so appropriate for customer service position in a call center, but many companies have outsourced their call centers to other countries in Asia, and that is even harder because they not only have a strong accent, but they also many times are not familiar with expressions, jargons and slangs; however, with patience, tolerance and respect any situation can be solved.

  229. Accent is just one more excuse for not hiring a person. I have had a lot less problems here in the Northern states than in the South and a lot less in private companies where the only interest is making money than in public companies where people has more time to think about crap like accents or skin colors. If you are good at what you do then smart people will hire you and there will be no problem. I always compare this issue with this analogy: “If you are playing tenis and you have a knee injure, then your opponent will make you play on that side”. So the remedy is get education here in the US. By culture, the US people is egocentric so everything out of the borders is not good enough for many… many people (most of them without college education).

  230. I hire IT consultants on a regular basis, and over half of the candidates are H1B’s from India. I can honestly say that within the first few minutes of the interview I already know if I will be hiring the person or not. The number one complaint I get from our customers regarding H1B workers is their inability to understand them. And in my 20 years of experience, I have found that verbal skills are a good indicator of writing abilities. So candidates with heavy accents and poor English are automatically disqualified. And before you accuse me of racism, I have hired dozens of Indian candidates who happen to have excellent communication skills. Unforuntately they represent a small percentage of the H1B population.

  231. All the knee-jerk liberals who are berating those who support the study: you can like it or not, facts are facts. We are not talking about what you “wish” was the situation, it is what it is. Simple fact: when I have a problem with my new whatever, call the factory and get someone who can barely communicate or understand, I mistrust the factory’s interest and capability to serve my needs. This has nothing to do with the individual – they may be a very nice person in their country and totally reliable, but if I cannot get what I need, I WILL go elsewhere.

    This to me is the greater lesson to take away from this study – communication today is very intense, we are being called to “do more with less”. I can’t take all day for a single conversation to get across a single bit of information. So if I can’t access the information, it is unreliable.

  232. Don’t you notice all Californians speak English with an accent? I am very proud of being a Californian.

    I know some people who speak English with an American accent, but, unfortunately, some of them do not possess a writing skill.

    When I hear people speak English with an accent, I know that they know at least two languages. They should be proud of that.

    I myself speak, read and write English, Mandarin, and Vietnamese at an acedemic level, all with an accent. I used to speak adequately French, German, Cantonese, a bit of Russian.

  233. I am the eldest of two daughters born into a solidly middle-class family and raised in Newark, NJ. I am a member of the National Honor Society, I was one of the top 25 students in my high-school graduating class and I am a college graduate with a BA in History. I do not look, behave nor speak like anyone on the “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” “Jersey-licious,” “The Sopranos,” or that idiotic reality show with “Snooki” and “The Situation.”

    My sister is 10 years younger than I (or me, whichever you prefer). She, too, is a very intelligent woman – but when she opens her mouth, she’s like the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz” before he got a brain! She mangles the English language in ways that are beyond description! And my A+ high-school graduate, college sophomore nephew sounds like he comes straight from the ‘hood! “He be,” “She be,” “Dey be” – if he thinks for one minute that potential employers are going to skip over the fact that he talks like he’s a character out of “Shaft” and “Superfly,” and hire him based solely on his resume, he’s in for a nasty surprise! No hiring manager in a “white-collar” company is going to consider someone that can’t/won’t speak proper English for a position in that firm. It is not going to happen!

    Should an accent matter? Again, it depends on the industry. There is nothing more frustrating than calling tech support and not being able to understand what the technician is saying because of a heavy accent or bad grammar. On one occasion, I got so tired of not being able to make out what the person on the other end was saying, I just hung up and, through trial and error, fixed the issue I was having with my computer myself!

    Then again, our family’s physicians have moderate South Asian accents but, since we’re face-to-face most of the time and not conversing over the phone, it’s easier to understand them.

    Would I say that I question the trustworthiness/intelligence of a person based solely on their accent? No – but I will question their intelligence if it seems to me that, because of poor grammar, they don’t know what they’re talking about, even if they do!

  234. I once had a “country southern” accent after living in rural Alabama and worked with a girl from the Midwest. At some point our desks were move near one another and we had the time to chat. She said “You are much smarter than you
    sound!” LOL, I didn’t know whether to feel complimented or insulted.

    Evidently accents do skew perception. Working with the public in a very mult-cultural Canadian city now, I am adept at hearing past the accent, listening closely and asking pointed questions if I don’t understand. I find immigrants appreciate this greatly. I have been offered free lessons in their native language and learned a lot about other countries in the course of our chats. Asking about thier homeland puts them at ease and facilitates your business communication.
    Get past or at least try to stifle your inherent prejudice for a short time! It works for both parties to achieve maximum understanding.

  235. Accents become problematic when you’re a minority. British accents and Aussie accents, even Eastern European accents are never a problem. Oh no… but when you’re from Africa or Asia, suddenly no one can understand you. It’s a ploy people use to discriminate against other.

  236. Albert Szent-Györ•gyi [sent-jur-jee] “Hungarian-born American biochemist who was the first to isolate vitamin C. He won a 1937 Nobel Prize for discoveries relating to biological combustion.” Wow – we cannot take anymore Vitamin C because he has a Hungarian accent. – That is ridicules.

  237. For their broadcast, BBC is now using more and more journalists who are not native English speakers. I watched a BBC news report broadcast on TV the other day and it was hard to follow what the journalist was saying because she had a strong foreign accent in her English. Apart from the news, some audiences also want to learn to speak English correctly and properly from listening to the BBC broadcast which has produced a kind of basic standard of how correct and proper English is spoken. Unfortunately, BBC seems to be unable to maintain such a standard from their journalists anymore. Whilst the world is moving along the pace of globalisation, the standard of spoken and written English should not need to drop as a result. If a journalist was required to report in French, Spanish, Swahili, Polish, Urdu, Mandarin, etc., it is reasonable to expect that s/he should equally speak without a foreign accent in those respective languages.

  238. ME LLAMO ERNESTO(ernie jijiji) i have to say that after reading must of the comments i laughed so much i was practically in(on jiji) the flor(floor}.For a minute i thought i was in one of those comedy shows….ladies and gents remember one thing:ONLY LOVE IS REAL THE REST IS AN ILLUSION and that`s the name of that tune…….sayonara ciao adios a bientot bye bye

  239. I was married to a norwegian for many years. We lived in USA. He spoke excellent English with a norwegian accent. However some people could still not understand some words. I found that the norwegians are even less tolerant of accents. They are quick to correct mispronouncians when one is speaking their language. So I guess we are universal in accent tolerance

  240. I am from India. Now a US citizen and live in USA for about 24 years. I had my University education in USA. After my PhD and 6 years of employment now I am unemployed and unable to secure a job. Recently I applied for a job where I matched so well. The employer called, told me that it was a prescreening interview. She told me she likes everything about me, but she does not like my accent. She said, as a part of the job I need to do telephone interview (however, I did not see that on the job description that is still online). She also said she called me first, because she does not want to waste time. This happened last Wednesday (10/20/2010). My accent never was an issue if someone wants to sell something through phone to me. They always glad to talk to me (they need to sell something, you see). When corporate world wants to save on operating cost, they will outsource telephone customer service jobs to India. At that time accent of Indian telephone workers does not matter either. Well …USA’s different accents do not bother many people here. Even my Governor still has an accent but people love him as an actor and Governor. However, when it comes to hiring and promotion, my opportunity for advancement is clearly determined based on my accent.

  241. By the way, for me, the most annoying American accents are those similar to Sarah Palin’s. Also: some of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region is annoying where they don’t distinguish between names like “Ann” and “Ian.” Still, these are considered more acceptable than Southern … where those two names are easily understood as different. Also you have: “boss” for “bus” and “byack” for “back” and so on … in that region. In the South as mentioned before: “ass” for “ice” is hilarious. I like celebrating the differences but, when it comes to workplace, good communication and pronunciation matters.

  242. Economy is bad so now accent is becoming a problem bur was not prior 2001. Prejudice with a P majuscule. Employer is not going to tell you he is prejudice. Another excuse to diminish immigrant.
    Very bad and dihonest, guess it’s 2010

  243. I think everyone is missing the point here. If a customer on the phone calling into a workplace cannot understand the representative on the other end, then there is a significant problem. The representative cannot help the customer with his/her needs. The call has to be re-routed and productivity goes down.

    Recently, a newspaper here in the NW outsourced it’s customer service department, and the people calling in who did not receive their newspaper were talking to people in another country!!? Not only did they not speak the language, but they had no idea of the location of the subscriber or how to help them get their newspaper. Many subscribers have canceled their subscriptions.

    I think that we have to be very careful in discrimination but I think primarily the customer on the other end of the phone has to be seriously considered. My mother hangs up when she can’t understand as she is elderly and has a hearing aid. A customer service rep must speak clearly, concisely, and slowly for everyone to understand.

    • To those of you who are surprised that people still have accents after 25 years of being in this country, I say “Don’t be.” The sound system of our native language becomes ingrained in our brains by approximately age 6, and everything we learn after that goes through that template, is interpreted through that template, and is produced as influenced by that template. Some people have better “ears” than others. It has nothing to do with intelligence or education. People who spend the time in understanding the differences, not just in terms of vowel and consonant differences, but in terms of the melody and stress of speech, can diminish their accent with time, effort, and direct tutelage with appropriate feedback.
      In my opinion, which does not necessarily reflect the common point of view, an accent that does not interfere with intelligibility should not be considered a “negative.” The critical issue, however, is whether or not folks can understand the individual. In New York City, where so many accents abound, having an accent is somewhat less of an issue, if the person is understood. However, that same New Yorker with a mild-moderate accent who has to communicate with people who are from other parts of the country, will not even be given that leeway. Of course, we are talking in generalities, here, but that is sometimes the only way we can have a basis for discussion.
      I believe someone in this discussion brought up the point of usage of language being a concern. This is quite true, as it is surprising how much communication we engage in involves use of idioms and expressions as part of our shared culture.
      My last point is this. It would be really nice if we as a country could embrace differences that are reflected in someone’s speech. But, until that happens, it behooves the non-native speaker of American English, or even native speakers with regional accents that have unfavorable connotations , to understand and deal with the reality of the issue in whatever way they feel works for them. It is important, however, to understand that having an accent can have consequences–rightly, wrongly, or indifferently.

  244. When I first moved to the US my ego was hurting a lot from this “accent = ignorance” bias. I could not stand native speakers trying to speak more slowly and to phrase things simply as soon as they heard my foreign accent. That was especially annoying when dealing with the folk who had substandard education and IQ levels below the 5th grade. But then I noticed that those were the only kind of people who made me feel conscious of my accent.
    Anybody with meaningful education and travel experience understands how HARD it is to assimilate in a foreign culture and learn to speak a foreign language as an adult.
    So, KUDOS to all of you, immigrants, you should be proud of your accomplishments, and never ever let other people make you feel inferior.

    • That is so true, they should feel proud of their accomplishments. They are hear learning and making something of themselves for the benefit of them and their family and that is fantastic. Great post.

  245. I wonder why some accents are more acceptable than others? I am the son of a WWI Veteran and a Scot War Bride from Aberdeen. When Father died (I was young, but born in Normal, IL), Mother and I moved to Scotland to be near her family and lived there about ten years, then moved to Chicagoland. My accent stuck, although somewhat tempered over the years. I graduated from high school and university, spent 20 years in the US Navy (fourth-generation career US military and proud of it, thank you), and now work for a large company (UPS). Everyone notices my accent, some make fun of it (I do get tired of the “beam me up” bit), and a lot of coworkers over the years have adopted my verbal tic of saying “och!” when faced with a problem. Nevertheless, everyone knows who I am and what I do because they remember the accent, so it actually helps. I long ago accepted being called Scotty but it’s not my name, and I don’t find it discriminatory. Maybe if not for the accent, I’d be “that guy over there, you know, whatsisname?” I’m always amazed at how many people whom I don’t know, know me, and it’s because of the accent. When I go to the local VA clinic for treatment, I am occasionally asked if I am a Veteran and it gives me a chance to produce my US Military (Retired) ID card – and to say, “Och, o corse I am.” Maybe I should avoid Arizona, tho; I hear they dinna keen ta accents.

  246. i work in Customer Services and yes, have to speak Tech Support to INDIA. are you telling me that “pronunciation” is not important? accent be damned – how about just a mutual understanding of what words mean? my next career move will be to teach English as a First Language to Texans. Ahh jus luuuv all y’all, dahhlin… but could you please MOVE your mouths when you speak? it has oft been said that England and America are two countries separated by a common language. ASL anyone?

  247. In my experience, you are initially regarded as an amazement, as they try to size up whether you make sense. If American English speakers judge you to be intelligent, they actually begin to enjoy it. One of my colleagues inadvertently sent me an email message he meant to send to his mother about me. I did not let him know but it was very complementary. He made reference to my “subtle accent” which he said breaks “the monotony of hearing people who speak like me”.
    Generally though, the less-educated or the less-exposed tend to be stuck in preconceived notions of a “stupid foreigner”.

  248. People are less willing to communicate with people with strong accents because it takes more effort to understand them. I took classes taught by professors with strong accents and I often found myself not paying attention because I had to focus so much more because they were difficult to understand (the material was already hard enough). My lack of willingness to communicate was purely out of laziness, though.

  249. Truly there is nothing more irritating, vulgar and vile than a New York (New’ah Yaw’uhk), New Jersey or New England type of accent Any person who pauses between syllables is just outright pathetic. I would have absolutely no problem if John Holdren wanted to start with these people in implementing the “Green” eugenics agenda.

    • There is nothing wrong with a NY, New Jersey or New England accent. With re: NJ, as I stated in my own comment below, there are three distinct regions of NJ, North, Central and South, which results in three different accents-not everyone sounds the same. That said, (this Jersey Girl), likes her Central Jersey accent just fine!

  250. It’s very interesting how a person utters sounds can and is used against him. How he looks is used against him. What he believes in is used against him. It’s a wonder when we say a person is honest what we load into that word and then go on to define others with it.
    You could be born anywhere in the world and still sound strange to someone but does that make you a untrustworthy? We are humans looking for angels where they never existed…I say discrimination is a part of human nature, it requires people to think outside the box before they can get rid of it otherwise you will find that the way a person walks someday can be used against him, that’s if it hasn’t already. We are interesting.

  251. GK.. I don’t think its fair to blame some people for you lack of a job just because they are immigrants. Americans are all over the world and nobody bothers even to know their immigration status and they are accorded some of the best respects anywhere in the world. There are very many people in this country whose ego is so big they would rather do something stupid than be seen to be below someone with an accent. When you have an accent and you have gone even to graduate school, some people here still think you are a “fool” just because you don’t talk like them and they keep on correcting your accent as if they can talk like the natives when they go to other lands… Its more an ego thing where many Americans think they are better than anybody else just because they were born here. Some people will even know what you are talking about but they want to make you aware that you are not talking proper like them. How do I for example understand how someone here is talking yet they don’t understand anything I say?

    I can guarantee that I can even write better English and speak better English (Accents aside) than many people who keep on “correcting” my English. Its high time that people accepted that there are many people from different walks of life and we can never sound the same regardless. Some people here even don’t want to learn the necessary skills to get some jobs even when the government helps in training them. They think that just because they were born here, the government needs to give them jobs and fire the immigrants even when they are legal. I believe most people use the excuse of accents to group people so that they can apply uniform prejudices on them. While I believe that anybody coming here needs to learn English in order to communicate with the people here, I don’t think it means you also have to try to sound funny while immitating accents.

  252. An accent is a universal onomatopoeia and no matter where u were born or the number of languages u can speak, u’ll always have one. If an american goes to africa or any where in the world, he/she will have an accent too.

    • An American in Africa will keep his mouth shut because he can’t speak any other fucking language and even south Africans don’t speak English, they fart English words from their mouths. Fuck them the south Africans. I am pissed off.

  253. My brothers and I were raised in Georgia, but my parents never allowed us to acquire a Southern accent – we would be corrected and reminded to speak “proper English”. The net result was that I sounded like I had a (fairly slight) “foreign” accent. My teachers / classmates generally assumed I was “European” or British… In college, shortly after my wife (who is Singaporean and grew up speaking the Queen’s English) and I had begun dating, she commented on my accent and asked where I was from… I said “the South”, and for the next 6 months she thought I’d meant the south of England. For me, the bottom line has been that my accent has not been a problem, but when I tell people I am from the South they are a bit puzzled.

  254. As an American by choice and a long term resident of this great country I read this article with interest as I have a heavy accent and will die with it. I tried the Rosetta Stone English version which worked great to teach me French but failed to help me reduce my English pronunciation. Hard to teach and old dog new tricks is a truism.

  255. everyone has an accent!if you don’t understand mine, believe you me, I do not understand yours either. lets learn to be patient with each other.

  256. As a professional speech coach, I would like to explain that accents have three parts: pronunciation, rate of speech, and intonation (how the voice goes up and down, which varies by language and dialect). When I teach classes in accent modification, our goal is to be clearly understood, not to speak perfect standard American English. That is much more realistic for many people. People who cannot come to a coaching session may be interested in a brand new economical alternative: a series of mp3 audio files plus pdf files that concentrate on specific sounds. The sounds chosen are those that are difficult for many non-native English speakers to pronounce. The series may be found at
    http://www.BusinessSpeechImprovement.com.

    English is a difficult language to learn, but people who improve their skills report feeling so much more confident when speaking.

  257. I am an American and was trained to read, write and speak Korean while I was in the Army. I probably had an accent but the Koreans accepted me with great relish. I was tread no differently than any other Korean. I experienced no descriminiation at restaurants, movie houses or any other public facilities. I was on ‘civilian status’ and lived among the Koreans for almost two years. I was interested in their history, culture and food! Great place, S. Korea!

  258. Fluency and intelligibility are indispensable. Unfortunately most people – including English speakers – don’t bother. I have enough trouble understanding American high school dropouts. Foreigners? Forget it …

  259. First, not everyone from “Joisey” has that accent. As most people from NJ will tell you there are 3 distinct parts of NJ, North, Central, and South. Each part has there own accent, I suppose; however, it would seem to me that Central Jersey has the least distinct accent, which brings me to my next point. Having just moved down South (to Virginia), I find it incredibly difficult to understand the accents around me and the terrible grammar that I hear. This is not to say that I think the people are uneducated as they are not, just the manner of speaking. Yes, a lot of it is the North/South thing (you guys as opposed to the y’all) and the other variations that we hear. That said, as newcomer, I find just trying to decipher what is said is very difficult! The poor people I speak to probably think I am deaf. Oh well, here’s to this Damn Yankee getting used to it.

  260. Most of you fucking people can’t understand a second language yet you feel the right to discriminate against people who are talking English as a second language. Fuck You!

  261. I am a student of languages and cultures other than English. Unintelligible communication – whether in English or another language is a barrier. An accent by itself could be a huge issue because we are shaped by our human need to simplify in an effort to assimilate information. An accent unlike our own (whatever that may be) creates a natural filter. The greater issue isn’t the accent itself but the knowledge behind the accent. When a speaker uses phrases that are awkward and non-native, when the tone is offensive or condescending, when the speaker uses inflection and tone that are inappropriate – this creates far greater problems than accents. People who do not study linguistics often mistake an “accent” issue with other issues. My principal issues with those with “accents” really has to do with the willingness of some to acquire a deep understand of me as a customer or consumer of information. I once had amazing exchange on a Spanish-only language queue. My Spanish non-native – I have an accent that is obviously foreign, the situation was tense and difficult, so the individual DEMANDED to speak with someone from his country. The call was from Chile. I told the guy in the next cube that the caller wanted to speak with a native speaker from Chile – he was frustrated with me. So I transferred the call to him. I asked him how the call went. He said, “well, he was furious, he wanted to speak with someone from his country.” I laughed. My colleague in the adjacent cube WAS from his country – he was Chilean – he had lived in the states for about five years – and accent less English and was of course a native Spanish speaker. The speaker didn’t have an issue with my Spanish – he had an issue with the way the business was implementing change in his country. Even if he could speak with a person in his native country he probably wouldn’t have been happy. Accents are only part of the story.

  262. If you don’t mind it…how did you overcome this problem? My ego also hurts from these things especially when I interview for jobs. By the way, I have a slight “Russian” accent although I am not Russian…English is my 4th language (the last one) and I learned English using Russian books and dictionaries…I guess that explains why I have a Russian accent.

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