You only have to look at what’s trending at the moment to realise that one of the most popular YouTube trending videos is a girl called Danielle Bregoli who rose to fame as a viral star saying "Cash Me Ousside, How bow dah?", using what I would a call a version of Urban Slang. In the U.S. I am pretty sure everyone who saw this ‘Dr Phil’ episode understood exactly what she meant, but upon showing the video to more senior members of my family – they were completely clueless.
This has since led me to wonder how this girl is being perceived around the world based on her accent, speech, sound and the form of her words and sentences.
Accents - whether from the UK, Europe or Internationally - have always been linked with specific social groups. Using the UK as an example it might be regional - such as Birmingham - or social - such as upper-class. Everyone has an accent and for every accent, there will be those who have a preconception about it.
No accent is immune from such prejudices.
The Queen’s English is the well-known English accent spoken by the Royal Family and other members of the upper classes in the UK. It's an accent which fascinates many non-native speakers. Some native people also try to copy the accent to make themselves seem more ‘posh’ (read: upper class and wealthy!)
People may make one of the following preconceptions upon hearing a particular accent:
- You sound posh
- I don’t trust you
- You're uneducated/stupid/slovenly
- You're no good at your job
- You sound foreign
- You sound well educated
- You sound intelligent
- You sound trustworthy
So if you're in a position as a job seeker where you are undertaking a telephone interview or even a face to face interview, how can you overcome any unconscious bias about your accent on the part of the interviewer? Is it ever acceptable to 'disguise' your true accent (or attempt to)?
Darth Vader issued a stark warning to Bristolians auditioning for a role in the new Star Wars film earlier this month. "You can't go, 'oo-aar my dear, here's my lightsaber,'" advised David Prowse, the actor who played Vader in the original films. He advised hopefuls to "disguise their accents" if they were serious about landing a part.