Do you guys try to change your accent depending on who you’re talking to and where you are? So for example, If you were to speak portuguese would you change you accent depending on wether the person you’re talking to is Portuguese or Brazilian?

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I would only change the accent if the accent that I use is difficult for the listener to understand. I guess it also depends on how wildly understood the accent I use is, for example if I were to go to Sweden I would have to make sure to use Standard Swedish words and probably discard even words from my standardized dialect.

Swedes don’t have that much contact with Swedish-speaking Finns and a large portion of the Swedish population doesn’t even know we exist. That might be something of the past, with the internet and people being able to communicate with each other lot more easily.

I believe that Por vs Bra Portuguese and Mex and Spa Spanish are used widely enough that most people won’t have any problem.


Unless you’re a native level speaker, your speech will “automatically” adjust to certain accent differences of your speaking partners – your brain picking up on cues to “imitate and replicate” – even over the course of a conversation, but definitely over few days of being in a country. It’s not uncommon for students of English to quickly pick up British sounding speech when talking to people from the UK, but then sound more “American” after having a couple conversations with people from the US. However, this is usually not done deliberately.

I suppose one could force themselves to pay attention this and do it in a more deliberate fashion in order to be able switch between accents, however most people are just trying to get good enough to express themselves and converse fluently. And even if you’re fluent, the number one determining factor in one’s accent is gonna be one’s native accent and not any of the variations one may try to imitate, so I think forcing this is a bit pointless. (Unless we’re talking specifically about native accent reduction, which is a different issue altogether.)

In the case of English, most students in Europe end up speaking a mixed Brit/US version, unless they spend long enough time in either country to cement in one version over the other. I think mixing these different versions in any language is perfectly fine.

Also, I don’t know about others, but all the languages I’ve studied, English, French, German, Spanish, and Korean are split by borders, continents, and dialects, but in my experience, there are not enough differences between their versions to worry about this. Speaking a middle of the road version is perfectly fine for every situation – even after living in one place for a long time.


As far as Korean is concerned, have you ever tried listening to North Korean speech? I’ve heard that the two dialects are quite different and hard to understand for speakers of the other dialect.

I’ve lived in the US for 28 years and I speak English with a foreign accent, but I use American vocabulary and I do sound like a foreigner who learned English in the US.

Now I’m spending my summers in London and I might move there one day. But I’ve never tried to change my accent or use British vocabulary. At my old age, my foreign American accent sounds natural to me and part of who I am .


Though I’m sure there are differences between North and South Korean dialects, I don’t believe they would be significant enough to prevent understanding. One of the unique problems here is that 90% of North Korean speech you’d hear would be from government controlled sources, such as state news, interviews, and other propaganda material, and in all these cases the speakers apply a very specific pathos filled intonation that I don’t actually think represents the everyday, conversational use in NK.

I have seen some documentaries where more “normal” conversations were also captured and to my ears it sounded like a usually expected local variation of Korean.

Also, casual claims of “not being able to understand” are present in other dialect heavy languages, but they tend to be overblown in my experience.

Case in point: Quebecois French. At first hearing, Quebecois can be very hard to understand if you’re not used to it. I’ve overheard someone speaking it on the phone and it sounded like a different language, BUT the same person, once they realized I spoke French, started talking to me in a very understandable, middle of the road French. She explained to me that in Quebec they tend to speak a very colloquial version among themselves, but they’re perfectly happy to tone that down for someone who’s more comfortable with “regular French.” So, one might make the claim of “not being able to understand Quebecois,” but that would not prevent you from communicating with people from Quebec if you speak French. And my guess is, after a week or so in Quebec, the differences would start to disappear pretty fast for a fluent French speaker.

There are examples of these kinds of local accents and dialects in every language. They take time to get used to, but they’re not significant enough to prevent communication.


Not so much accent as vocabulary. The Spanish you speak with someone from Argentina is going to be different from the Spanish you speak with someone from Spain. But as far as accent goes, I’m going to speak Dutch with my own accent. Sure, my speech may be affected to some degree when I’m talking to someone from Groningen NL as opposed to Rotterdam NL as opposed to Mechelen BE, but my accent isn’t going to change all that much. It’s still going to be my own accent. Since Dutch is not my native language, I’m not going to make a conscious effort to speak differently, but I may work on trying to improve my accent so that I don’t sound so foreign. Native speakers may speak differently, depending on who they are talking to. They may try to speak with more of a “standard” Dutch accent when talking to someone from another city or province than they would when talking to someone in their own city or province. But as a non-native, no, I’m not going to consciously change my accent, other than an overall effort to try to make myself sound less foreign.


I live in an area on the edge between midwest American English (TV presenter pronunciation) and mid-south American English. I’m part of the former population but find myself unintentionally slipping into the latter when in that milieu.

However, when I visited Ireland I made no effort to sound like an Irishman. I’d just sound silly if I did. I’d only consider it if there were significant differences in certain patterns of pronunciation that affect understanding. That might be the case with Portuguese?

Adjusting vocabulary is reasonable if you’re comfortable with the differences. If in Ireland or the UK I might, as an example, use “lift” and “flat” instead of “elevator” and “apartment”, even though they’d probably understand the American usage. I might pronounce “secretary” as “secatry” if that’s what I heard around me, but I would still pronounce it with American intonations.

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I am VERY SELF-CONSCIOUS about my southern drawl, much as I hate it. But I would have a very hard time getting rid of it. I wish I could change my accent the way some very talented movie actors do, but I just don’t have that kind of talent or the resources to do it. So I’m pretty much stuck with my accent.

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I don’t speak portuguese yet, but I used it as an example because I have heard that the portuguese may get mad that foreigners learn the brazilian version. But it applies pretty much with all languages, even though some may change more than others, and some variants may have negative or possitive connotations.

I say it depends on where you plan on traveling. If you plan on going to Brazil, then start with South American Portuguese; if you plan on going to Portugal, then start with European Portuguese.

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As a foreigner you’re going to have a foreign accent that will probably override most regional differences. Caution: I don’t know Portuguese, but I’ve seen videos about the difference in B & P. If I recall correctly there are some across-the-board differences in how certain things are pronounced, and it might make sense to try to follow the local convention wherever you’re at, albeit with your foreign accent.

An example from Russian in Russia and Ukraine (since I don’t know Portuguese), the latter tend to pronounce “G” as “H” much of the time, whereas the “H” sound simply does not exist in the Russian of Moscow and St. Petersburg. If that’s a constant substitution rule, then I might try to do the same if visiting Ukraine. However, I might do better to just concentrate on forming my sentences correctly without being distracted by changing my pronunciation. Of the Ukrainian YouTubers that I watch, this substitution seems far from universal and doesn’t seem to be needed to be understood.

(Edit: The Ukrainian government promotes the Ukrainian language at the expense of Russian. So in this case those Russian-speaking Ukrainians might be happy enough that I’m speaking Russian with them, nevermind the regional accent. So not fully analogous to you flying between Sao Paulo and Lisbon.)

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You do it more or less consciously. A few years ago I was living and working in Cape Verde. I spoke European Portuguese with my colleagues.
From Cape Verde I went several times to Brazil, and when there, after a few days I would speak Brazilian Portuguese. I had a Brazilian girlfriend so I knew all the vocabulary, but it would always take me some days to really be able to catch their way of speaking. I also “had to”, in a sense, because otherwise people in Brazil would look at me wondering what I was saying in some cases. It’s more a matter of vocabulary and grammar structure actually.

Portuguese people are more exposed to Brazilian Portuguese through telenovelas so you might not have this problem the other way round, or only to a lesser extent.

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No, I always try to be the clearest and I tend to keep the “accent” whomever i’m talking to.