Everyone has a certain accent they’re attracted to. Whether it be the smooth romance of Spanish or the upscale pronunciation of the Queen’s English, an accent is a major asset in the wooing of prospective amores. I for one can attest to the fact that people who look very much like me (but have an Irish brogue) are far more successful at attracting women (I’m looking at you, Domhnall Gleeson). But what is the sexiest accent in the world?
Well, it depends on who you ask. Every country has different tastes. A survey of over 15,000 people performed by Babbel suggests there is one accent that is almost universally attractive, though: français. The only people who seemed to disagree were France’s neighbors in Spain, who apparently think Italians are more alluring. And what do the French think? They agree with the Spanish, and fall for l’accento italiano.
|The World’s* Sexiest Accents|
|9. Dutch (tied)|
|9. Turkish (tied)|
*It should be noted that the “world” in this survey comprises Brazil, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Australia. So, the Western world.
What Makes Certain Accents So Sexy?
So there you have it, a totally objective list of the sexiest accents. Still, though, you have to wonder: why is there such a consensus in the Western world? Well, there are a few different theories, many of which were discussed in this article in The Guardian. The article discusses languages rather than accents, but much of it applies here, too.
Some academics believe that it has to do with the sound quality of different languages. Linguist Patti Adank says, “English speakers are drawn to the melody of a language such as French or Italian. In comparison, languages such as Thai or Mandarin can sound harsh because they are using tonal distinctions. It sounds very unnatural and unexpected.”
Adank’s theory does seem to correspond with the fact that French and Italian top our list. It can even help explain why Spain chose Italian, because Italian is closer to Spanish than French is. An article in Mental Floss attempted to figure out exactly what it is about the French language that attracts others. Still, it doesn’t completely account for why French, in particular, is the most popular among almost all of the survey’s respondents.
There’s another possible reason that seems more likely, but is a tad uglier. Linguist Vineeta Chand of the University of Essex says that it is an evaluation of the speaker, not the speaking, that makes an accent “sexier.” If this is true, then you don’t really think the French accent is sexy, you just think French people in general are. Chand has this to say on the topic: “There hasn’t been any research that I know of that has directly exploited the attractiveness of a language and didn’t eventually tie it back to the social evaluation of the speaking community.”
Returning to accent-hotness, it would make sense if people found the French accent most attractive because of their beliefs about the French people. After all, the trope of the sexy French maid permeates our media, and Paris is widely considered the city of love. In contrast, German is often said to be harsh and ugly sounding, but perhaps that’s just because Germans are so often depicted during the worst part of their history.
There’s still plenty of debate in the linguistic community over accent evaluation, so it can’t be said for sure what drives our attractions. But next time you’re turned on by someone with an English accent, maybe ask yourself if it’s because you really like the person, or if it’s just that you’ve seen a few movies with Idris Elba in them.