A study into people’s perceptions of English dialect speakers has shown that some dialects seem to make the speaker sound more intelligent than others. (Now everybody in the Southern US or in Germany’s Saxony go tell me about it.)
But you know things are really bad for you if your accent can’t even outdo silence on the intelligence scale. Especially if you call Birmingham your home you get the short end of the stick…
Silence could well be golden for ambitious Brummies, after research found people with the distinctive nasal Birmingham accent were seen as stupid while those with a Yorkshire twang were considered clever.
The study into dialect and perceived intelligence found that people who said nothing at all were regarded as more intelligent than those with a Brummie accent.
This is despite a general trend in which regional dialects have become more respectable. The Yorkshire accent is rated as the most intelligent-sounding, beating received pronunciation, the accent of royalty and public school alumni, for the first time.
The biggest surprise the study has produced is that RP (received pronunciation, or The Queen’s English) rates even slightly lower than the Yorkshire accent.
The average intelligence ratings given by the study participants, out of 10, were: Yorkshire: 6.71; RP: 6.67; silence: 5.99; and Birmingham: 5.6.
Read the full article in the Guardian.
And now a few examples, taken from IDEA, the University of Kansas International Dialects of English Archive.
White female, born 1912, raised Greetland, West Yorkshire. Details.
White male, twenties, born Grimsby, raised Darlington. Details.
And now for a Brummy speaker:
White female, domestic worker, born 1947, lifelong resident of Gaydon, Warwickshire, a few miles from Birmingham. Details.
But let’s just make one thing clear: