What english accent is most difficult to understand in your opinion?

Hi folks,

What do you think what english accent is most difficult to understand?
In my point of view the most difficult english accent is irish,of course some irish speaks quite clearly,however most irish talks very very fast and unclearly, then I talk to them some times I have no idea what they’re talking about.It’s extremely hard to understand them,especially then speaks teenagers,retirees,and generally most irish.
So I think you need to be very very good in english in order you could understand them :slight_smile:

Well the most difficult accent for everyone is which you are not accustomed :slight_smile:
Seriously, cockney and Scottish accent and Southern American accent are not easy to understand for me.
Anyway, I am not an expert.

Andrew Flintoff is a british cricketer from lancashire.

lancashire accent for me, I’m sure , it is all about getting used to a variety of accents over a long period of time.

There is not just one Irish accent, you have to specify county or even city.

A couple of Northern accents (Donegal):

Loads of others:

As for Andrew Flintoff’s accent, I have no particular difficulties with it.

I find Scotts hard to understand, particularly in a noisy pub.

Meanwhile, I think Wayne Rooney is worse than Flintoff. http://bit.ly/ozjLWx

@jeff lindqvist yeah I know every city has a different accent,in fact I was talking to irish who has lived far from Dublin and as he came to live here he couldn’t understand Dublin people because they had a different accent.Interesting same country and english speech but sometime it’s hard to understand ourselves

Does Wayne Rooney speak English ?

@Jamie yeah I guess he speak English :smiley: in my comprehension he pronounce several words and phrases pretty clearly,but most of his speech I need to listen extremely intently in order I could understand him

You’re not alone; most of the UK population has the same problem.

Agreed, Wayne Rooney is worse than Flintoff (though still not difficult). I guess learners from all over the world are far too used to whatever “cassette accent” they learned English from. Watch any (I mean ANY) movie from UK or USA and you’ll hear a bunch of accents, sociolects and idiolects.

I think in order you could understand every native English speaker with different accent you need to mastery English very very well.Sometimes native English speakers from different countries doesn’t understand each other,as I know some Americans can’t understand certain Irish accent.So us learners is much more difficult to comprehend them

I’m not talking about every native speaker, just quite common accents that are present in many movies and tv series. And I’m not talking about slang or certain sociolects (that might be somewhat difficult even for natives), people with speech impediments, “broken English” etc.

I’ve lost count of the times when people have said that this or that person has such a strange accent (based on their own not-so-good-English-accent, the likelihood that they’ve learned English under bad conditions, with only one set of cassettes and a handful of voices - how on earth can they believe that everybody speak like that?).

Perhaps I’m lucky because I’m used to hearing different accents because there are several in Sweden (each with their own prosody and phonology) while other languages might have one standard way of speaking. I might also be lucky because we never dub foreign language movies in Sweden. Any Swede who regularly watches movies has heard hundreds and hundreds of actors speaking English.

As the first English person in this thread i should say that for me, the rural Scottish accent is the hardest to understand. Also some areas of the Caribbean have a very heavy accent that i sometimes mistake for a totally foreign accent.

Aside from those i can understand nearly every English accent perfectly. I think this is due to the amount of movies i watch.

I must say…I’m an American living in England for about six months and I have had difficulty understanding English here on several occasions. My children and I have seen a particular television commercial several times and each time we’ve had to laugh because we have absolutely no idea what the actor in the commercial is saying!

I’m a native speaker from Australia and I’ve got no problems with the above accents. It’s only really when people are mumbling, there is loud background noise, some sort of speech impediment or drunkenness, that I won’t understand someone well. That being said, I have to listen more carefully to some accents, and sometimes a word will slip by.

I think the reason for this is the exposure I’ve had to many different dialects.

As a side note, I’ve had problems with various forms of African English in the past. I don’t think this is the same thing though, because these speakers are not native speakers, speaking English alongside their first languages because of them being official in those countries. On the other hand, some Africans speak very eloquently in English, so it might be something related to class/educational level which I’ve got no real idea about.

My Latin American friends always say they can’t understand Australian accents, I’ve heard it many times.

And Caribbean accents, because their accents are heavy from creole languages most likely.

I had this Kenyan friend, who spoke like this British-Kenyan mixed accent. and everyone would have trouble understanding him, but I would completely.

Definitely the Scottish people :wink: Though some people consider Scots to be a separate language, not a dialect of English, I think…

I can appreciate why a lot of people would find a lot of us Scottish people tricky to understand when we speak colloquially but it depends on the person and region. The Scots language is tricky to pin down though. The dialect continuum of Scots is so wide that it’s extremely difficult to say whether someone is genuinely speaking Scots or English with some Scots vocabulary.

Scots is largely diluted nowadays by English but in some places you can hear very “broad Scots” where less dilution has taken place in vernacular speech and sometimes even I as a Scot find people with certain dialects tricky to understand if they use a lot of Scots vocabulary but then again I’ve lived in Glasgow all my life where there has been a lot more dilution of Scots than in other parts of the country.

I just wonder what it must be like for people who have never heard Scots before and have English as a second language. I remember hearing about a trip to Germany that my dad had with his school when he was 16 and how a classmate went into a shop and asked for (trying this phonetically) “a coupla pieces 'n soseej!” and, being met with an obvious blank look from the shop staff, my dad had to step in and translate into standard English which was “two sausage sandwiches”. Unfortunately quite a lot of the class could barely speak standard English so it got quite difficult for the poor Germans they spoke to.


Yeah I agree with you opinion.It doesn’t mean that if you’re Scottish for example or Irish your accent every time will be difficult to understand.It depends on the person and region.In my case I’ve talked with some Irish which had different accent between each other.I notice that person who is cultivated speaks much clearly than a person which are ignorant.Some Irish speaks extremely fast and unclear and it’s very hard to understand them sometime, I’m talking only about Irish because I just had opportunity to talk only with them

Some time ago i found this video on youtube :slight_smile:
As for me i think we all have an accent when we speak at our native language. All territories(provinces) have their accent. And i think it’s normal and natural. And it’s good reason for jokes :-)).