What Accents Do You Like, and Which Ones Drive You Up the Wall?

walking-shoesSo, I’ve started walking every day. You know, to try to escape from this phone booth of fat I’ve been trapped in for the last 20 years or so. Plus, I don’t want my heart to start cutting in and out on me. I’m getting kind of old, and that’s now a very real possibility. And I can’t have that.

I downloaded an app called MapMyWalk, and it’s pretty great. You start it when you leave the house, stop it when you return, and it spits back all sorts of information about your just-completed walk. Then you can save it, and compare future walks, and see your progress.

I’m going about 3.5 miles per day, and haven’t missed a day yet. I’ve been tweaking the course, trying to find the best one. I don’t mind climbing hills at the beginning, but don’t want to do it at the end. So, it’s a work in progress.

I’ve been listening to a writing podcast while I walk, and it’s actually enjoyable. Who knew? Today it was hotter than zebra piss out there, and it’s amazing that I didn’t find an excuse to stay home. I wanted to do it; I wanted to walk. Hopefully that can be maintained.

And speaking of the podcast… It’s an hour-long interview with a successful or semi-successful indie writer, and it’s very good. I’ve been listening to it for a long time, but have gotten behind because of my new job. So, I have dozens of episodes stacked up.

Today I started one with a writer from Scotland, and couldn’t understand a word the man was saying. It sounded like they taped him talking, and were playing it backwards. I have no problem with most accents, but Scottish is almost incomprehensible to me. It doesn’t even sound like English. I had no choice but to skip to the next episode.

When we were flying to England in 2007 I was seated beside a very nice Scottish couple in their late 20s, I’d say. And we couldn’t communicate. I couldn’t understand them, and they clearly couldn’t understand me. They might as well have been talking that African Click language. I was completely baffled, so we just gave it up after about three minutes. It’s too bad. They probably had some good stories.

My parents are friends with a couple from New Hampshire (I think), and the man supposedly has a very thick accent of some sort. My dad, especially, has trouble understanding him. He tells me the guy talks like he has a mouth full of shit. I’m not sure I’m familiar with this particular brand of talking, but both my parents assure me it’s a challenge.

For a Question, I’d like to get your thoughts on accents and dialects, and that sort of thing. Which ones do you like to hear, and which ones drive you up the wall? There are a lot of American regional accents that cause me to grind my molars, but I’ll let you guys list your own.

Also, are there any accents, like Scottish for me, which you simply can’t parse? Please tell us about it in the comments.

And if you have any walking or running advice to dispense, I’m open to that, as well.

I’m behind as usual, so I’m going to cut this one a little short. I’ll see you guys again soon.

Have a great day!

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  1. I once worked with a Chinese PhD who was incomprehensible for the first 6 months I knew him. Once I finally ‘got’ his cadence things got a lot better. I’ve never found that to be true for a Scot.

    Good for you on the walking – bust out of that phone booth like Superman!

  2. SaucyDeb says

    Cajun loses me every time. My husband’s family is from Louisiana and they mostly just have a nice Southern drawl. Every once in a while there’s a Cajun tossed in the mix and it suddenly becomes a cacophony of bad Slingblade impressions.

  3. I’m not sure how to phrase these sentences without sounding like some kind of an asshole, but the gist is that I find Jersey, Boston, and Australian accents more grating than others. Australian is not so much grating…it’s just…I don’t know.

    I also worked with a Taiwanese pathologist who, despite living in America for many years, stilled called me “Jelly”.

  4. I hate accents. Every one of them.

    Letter’s are supposed to make specific sounds when combined with other letters. Use your mouth to make that sound you lazy shit.

  5. I watch a Youtube series called Anglophenia. There is an episode where the host does all the different English dialects. It’s pretty cool.

    I find so-called Southern accents extremely sexy (when women speak it, that is.)

  6. Also, the first time I ran into a real live North Carolina farmer I thought maybe I or he was having a stroke. What was coming out of his mouth was a babble-stream and I had to ask three times to repeat himself.

    Turns out, ‘how you likin’ the Ol’ North State?’ sounds an awful lot like ‘heh yew lahkin yuh Ol’ norf stay?’

    Don’t run across many folks who talk like that around these parts anymore.

  7. SeanInSac says

    Favorite: Women with Texas accents, hubba, hubba.
    Least favorite: Women with New York accents, in particular Long Island, makes me want to stab my ear drum. Funny, I don’t mind when a guy has a New York/Long Island accent…

  8. Valley Girl and Boston annoy the shit out of me. White gentlemen from Georgia sound like poofters to me… especially preachers… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    As for foreign accents I’m able to understand them all. I had adopted siblings from Mexico and from Taiwan, so I’m very skilled at listening through the accent.

  9. I cannae understand some Scots, and I’m a Brit.

  10. madz1962 says

    Love a British accent. They always sound intellectual even if they’re telling you the proper use of a rectal thermometer.

    Don’t like an Indian accent. Especially when I’m the paying customer with an important question and I can’t understand what the hell they’re saying.

    No walking advice except to say keep it up!

  11. Indian accents annoy me, mainly because I associate them with calls telling me that my “Computer is not working!”
    A genuine Southern drawl is music to my ears, since most people in Ohio talk through their noses and way too quickly. I also think British and French accents are pretty awesome.
    I don’t know if this would be considered an accent, but that “creaky” sounding voice that is fairly common now makes me want to ball up in the fetal position and scream! Same goes for people who talk as if they’re ending every sentence like a question.

    Good to see that Mr. Kay survived his “brown recluse” bite or whatever!

    • Upspeak

      I also wish people would stop saying like after like every like word like.

    • The creaky “I’m running out of air” voice is called Vocal Fry. It’s stick-an-awl-in-my-ear annoying. I think we can thank the Kar-douche-ians for that one.

      • johnthebasket says

        I once got in a glottal scrape with one of the kardouche boyfriends. It was the one that was a rapper. Fuckit, I guess they’re all rappers, aren’t they?

  12. I’ve been trying to walk. I use s health that tracks my steps. I’m trying to get 15000 a day. I’m failing for July but we’ll see next month.
    Dave dameshek on Carolla lost a lot of weight walking.

  13. The only accent that drives me up a wall is that particular kind of midwestern in which talk rhymes with sock. Also, “do what” said with any accent.

    Scotland, like almost every country, has regional accents. Some are more comprehensible than others. A woman with a Scottish accent is deid seixy, even if I can’t understand her. Same for Irish, English, Australian.

    I have a client who is Russian or Ukrainian or something, and I have no trouble understanding what he says. But his emails leave me scratching my head. There are only so many articles you can leave out before meaning is lost.

    • johnthebasket says

      I’m from nowhere near the Midwest, and when I talk it rhymes with sock. The only way I can make it not rhyme is to pronounce the “l” in talk, which doesn’t seem quite right, or to leave out the “o” in sock, which makes it sound like I’m getting my temperature taken from the other end. How in God’s name are these words pronounced where you’re from?


      • Mookie325 says

        With my wonderful Jersey accent, it’s “tawk” and “sock”….

      • If you talk good, “talk” and “torque” are homophones.

      • Seriously… the As in talk, walk, small and tall all sound the same. Also, “all” and “also.” We stop well short of tawk. Hey those words all have an L after the A. What’s up with that?

  14. Spanish (Mexican) is my second language and it is also spoken with regional accents. Puerto Rican and Cuban Spanish is fast and they ‘eat’ some consonants and this makes it difficult to understand. Central and South American Spanish use different words for some things. Spain Spanish is mostly understandable.

    The New York accent spoken by a male – nice. By a female – not so nice. The ‘don’t-cha-know’ Wisconsin/Minnesota can be annoying.

  15. Clueless says

    Hands down winner in my book is an Irish lilt.

  16. johnthebasket says

    Walking is pretty interesting and we haven’t had a column on xenophobia for quite a while.


  17. Steve. in WV says

    That eastern Kentucky, Southern WV accent drives me mad. I have a southern accent but this goes so far beyond that, it’s insufferable. Not only do you sound like an uneducated douche, you’re using words that aren’t even real words, and using the wrong words in the wrong tense.

  18. That’s great to hear that you are walking, it’s an easy way to do a whole lot of good for yourself. I’m a lot better off when I get into that routine and stick to it.

  19. Minnesota accent. see the woman cop in Fargo.

  20. People from Austria cannot lose their accents (Wolfgang Puck, Arnold Schwarzenegger) it’s weird but I don’t find it annoying. Midwestern “you betcha” shit is the most awful. My accent is perfect.

    When walking, one thing I took up to keep from being bored out of my mind is geocaching. Those fucking things are everywhere and it’s fun to find them (for me it is anyway). http://www.geocaching.com

  21. cross lanes curmudgeon says

    Down-east Maine accent, spoken by guy with pipe clenched in teeth, has been the hardest for me to follow. Don’t hear it enough these days to drive me up the wall. Sounds pretty cool, once you reach that magical point where what the guy is saying makes sense and is not just a series of guttural noises.

    • My brother had a story about a guy like that. He and his wife were vacationing somewhere in New England, and asked the Crusty Old Guy if you could walk to (someplace). Mr. Crusty replied, “People do.”

      So they set off walking, and eventually realized the place was 17 miles away. Evidently “people do” because they need to get there and don’t have a car. Not because it’s close. A key piece of information omitted.