I can't tell the difference!

@ElicBxn (60142)
United States
August 26, 2011 2:35pm CST
I feel really bad admitting this. I just don't have a discerning ear I guess. I know my roommate, several friends and probably most other people can do this, but I can't. And I feel REALLY bad about it I can not tell the difference between an English, Aussie, South African and some Canadian accents. There's a lady that comes by Maggie's place about once a month who has one of these, and I honestly don't know where she's from... I suspect its either England or Canada, since she's gobsmacked by this Texas summer, I don't think Aussie's would be quite so flabbergasted by the heat, not sure about South Africans... Is there a secret that I can train my ear to listen for? or I'm I just dense (a very good possibility I might add) about this?
4 people like this
23 responses
@Humbug25 (12552)
26 Aug 11
Hi ya ElicBxn I don't think you are the only one so don't worry. I am English through and through but find it hard to tell the difference between some Canadian and American's haha. The only tip I would give you is to look out for the lingo they use. Canadian's are more likely to use American words and there is a difference between words Aussie's use to the English. Can't think of many examples off the top of my head but say between American English and Queen's English would be that you guys say pants and we say trousers. Hope this helps X
4 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
26 Aug 11
I agree that there are certainly many Canadian accents that are indistinguishable from "American" ones, but there are certainly some areas of Canada that seem to think that the less "American" the better - British Columbia for one... And I do know that there are words that the Canadians and Aussies use that those in the home country don't. Unfortunately, we really don't have time for an in depth conversation when she comes by so I can't look for those kinds of words that might help me...
3 people like this
• United States
27 Aug 11
Elic, I have lived by British Columbia all my life and they are perhaps the most Americanized of all Canada. Frankly, I can rarely tell the difference between any Canadian and US accent. Of course, I'm from the Northwest and not the South where you are. Texas has some pretty strong drawls going on there and that's way far from the average American. LOL Can you tell the difference between a Texan and an Arkansan accent? I can't.
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
28 Aug 11
not from East Texas and Arkansian... but west Texas... pretty different accents actually
@dragon54u (31352)
• United States
26 Aug 11
I can tell Canadian sometimes because they say "ho-sss" instead of "house", pronounce their "ou" like a long "o". Something like that. English and Aussies sound a lot alike to me just because I haven't listened to them side by side. South Africans often have a kind of music to their speech so I can sometimes guess right between them and the English and Aussies but not always. It's very difficult, so don't feel bad! It would be like them trying to tell a resident of New England from a Californian, probably.
3 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
26 Aug 11
maybe its because we see so few of them down here... I suspect they could tell the diff between New England and Californian, now East Texas and Mississippi might be harder or West Texas and Utah... heck, I can't tell those apart either! But when I was in England, even tho I don't have a strong Texas accent - due to being a d*mned Yankee - they figured I was from Texas
2 people like this
@BarBaraPrz (17990)
• St. Catharines, Ontario
26 Aug 11
I'm Canadian and I pronounce house as howse.
3 people like this
@dragon54u (31352)
• United States
26 Aug 11
BarBaraPrz, would that maybe be a difference between provinces? Like Texans pronouncing thing differently from someone from Nebraska?
2 people like this
• Southend-On-Sea, England
26 Aug 11
I wouldn't worry too much....I'm English and I can't even tell the difference between some regional English accents, from within the UK, let alone English speaking countries from outside the UK. I can't tell the difference between, say, an American and a Canadian accent. In the UK, to me, a Geordie accent sounds like a Welsh accent and vice versa, plus a Norfolk accent to me sounds the same as a Somerset/West country accent.
3 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
26 Aug 11
and see, you guys are just a tiny country! and while lots of us can tell Scottish from English, we sure can't tell regional U.K. accents!
2 people like this
• United States
26 Aug 11
Although I am exposed to several in my area I can honestly say I can't tell the difference in accents either. I sometimes feel one has to have a knack for it because my boyfriend can instantly tell the differences. He laughs at me all the time when I mix them up. I do not think it is about being dense, maybe we just did not "hang around" so to speak with enough of them to differentiate between them.
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
26 Aug 11
maybe its because we listen to what they say instead of how they say it? I don't know... I do know that I have some hearing lost due to a few too many rock concerts...
2 people like this
@apples99 (6564)
• United States
26 Aug 11
I'm from the U.S. and I'm actually pretty good and knowing the difference between U.S. accents, and Aussie,Canadian accents. I like listening to the way people speak it's fun I think certain accent are cool and sexy hahaha but don't feel bad there are a lot of people that don't really notice the difference between accents it's no big deal no worries As for learning the secret to deciphering accents its just a sound and tone and the way people with accents use their words, it's not easy to explain.
3 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
26 Aug 11
I guess so, I guess I'm so busy listening to what they are saying I'm not listening to how they are saying it...
2 people like this
• Philippines
26 Aug 11
Australian's and British accent is almost the same. I wouldn't know about South Africans because I haven't dealt with them, at least not on a regular basis. I think it's better if you don't trouble yourself with this unless you're planning to be an investigator.
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
26 Aug 11
I agree they are almost the same, but they do use different words, after all, a whole lot of them were sent from the very lowest classes originally, and then they were running into things they have never seen in urban, since many of them were the urban poor, England, and what they picked up or made up from the natives. I do think that my generation and younger tend - TEND - to be easier going, I know I met an Aussie lady who reminded me more of some British EXCEPT, she married an Asian man. Mind you, he was a BRILLIANT plastic surgeon and he was from the Philippines but its obvious that his background was Asian, probably Chinese, and you probably wouldn't have seen too much of that in the U.S. in my parent's generation - which they were.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
27 Aug 11
Okay, so there's a distinction.
2 people like this
• United States
27 Aug 11
I disagree. The Aussie accent may be similar to the British Cockney but it is very distinctive from the upper crust British accent.
1 person likes this
@GreenMoo (11842)
27 Aug 11
I can generally pick out South African, and I can definitely pick out British (and generally which region too. But I can't tell the difference between Australia and New Zealand, or between American and Canadian.
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
27 Aug 11
you mean there's a difference between New Zealand and Australia?
@GreenMoo (11842)
27 Aug 11
Certainly, if you ask someone from Australia or New Zealand!
2 people like this
• United States
27 Aug 11
I've been watching a lot of "McLeod's Daughters" which is an Aussie TV show with New Zealand actors and yes, there is a difference. Just ask the Aussie audience! LOL
1 person likes this
@oXAquaXo (607)
• United States
27 Aug 11
ElicBxn, Don't feel bad...many people can't! I still get confused sometimes between an Australian accent and an English accent. I don't really think you can do much to practice, but I guess you develop a "hearing" for it after listening to many accents for a while. South African accents usually sound like a mix between an American and an English accent. It's like someone American's trying to attempt an English accent, but is kind of failing at it (no offense to any South Africans :)). Canadians usually don't have very heavy accents...they usually sound like Americans, except extremely northern Canadians. They sound like the kind old grandmas talking in old movies...with that upward sound. They're fairly different from the other accents. English accents usually sound more "proper" than Australian accents...Australian accents have more of a twang, if you know what I mean. Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it. It just comes with hearing people with different accents a lot. Happy mylotting!
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
27 Aug 11
I doubt I'm going to learn at my age, the roomie can tell by hearing a voice if she knows the actor, well, she's visually impaired, so voices are more important to her...
1 person likes this
@buddha3 (1029)
• India
28 Aug 11
well, AQUA, i think you always say everything right! We can differentiate only when we mingle more with different people. Elic, you can't compare yourself with your roomie. you know, the visually impaired have extra gift of more reception from other sense organs. Their ears are super strong and they can catch everything from sounds:)
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
28 Aug 11
@buddah - there isn't a lot of truth to that notion that blind people's other senses are extra - they do pay more attention to them than sighted people, but there really isn't that much "extra" to them...
@allknowing (56720)
• India
27 Aug 11
This is not an easy job but here in India we can identify easily who comes from which State by the way they pronounce. Here is a link that will help you about how people in the world speak http://alt-usage-english.org/audio_archive.shtml
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
27 Aug 11
Thanks for the link, I'll give it a listen when I'm less tired... thinking of going back to be this morning...
• United States
27 Aug 11
The samples on that site are not very helpful. I didn't really notice any difference at all in all but one of the so-called "American" accents, nor in most of the English. The samples are just too short. You really need to listen to a lot more than a quick sound bite to tell the difference.
1 person likes this
@blue65packer (11835)
• United States
27 Aug 11
At the college I work at we have international students. I also work with a woman who is from Moldova. So I know some accents! I know a few accents. My friend from Moldova has a thick Russian accent. I have no trouble picking a German accent out,either. I can pick out a French accent,too. Besides French,Russian and German other languages have been heard. Like Korean,Chinese,Japanese and the language from Malawi,Africa. In the city I live in I hear spanish and Hmong all the time plus the accents. So I can tell some accents from others.
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
27 Aug 11
I can tell some strong accents, but I couldn't tell a Russian from a Georgian or Ukrainian... I can tell German, but would have trouble if they were actually Dutch speakers or even Danish probably.
1 person likes this
@oXAquaXo (607)
• United States
27 Aug 11
Yeah, I went to an international camp at Harvard a couple years ago, and there were students from ALL over the world. I learned to discern some accents there. I heard South African accents, French accents, German accents, some EXTREMELY heavy Russian accents, Columbian accents (this one was pretty cool), and many more. That camp taught me a lot about different cultures, and much about accents!
2 people like this
@marguicha (82780)
• Chile
27 Aug 11
Hearing is different in people. And even though maybe you don´t have that ability, you might have others. I am not good with accents either, but I know a lot more than most people I know about body language. I can "feel" if someone is angry, sad, or happy. Don´t worry.
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
27 Aug 11
I can write... (she says hopefully) actually, I'm pretty good at knowing what the right thing to do is when its someone else's problem...
1 person likes this
@marguicha (82780)
• Chile
27 Aug 11
¿See? That a much better talent than knowing exacly from what part of the world a certain person cmes from by just hearing him/her speak. You can always ask her if you don´t know
2 people like this
@pbbbsra (1214)
• Philippines
27 Aug 11
I think there is no problem with not knowing where people are from by their accents. As long as you understand what they are saying in a conversation, then I guess you are fine.
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
28 Aug 11
Good point, the purpose of language is to communicate and we do understand each other so that purpose is satisfied...
@stephcjh (32385)
• United States
27 Aug 11
I can tell the difference myself. I think it is great that you do not know how to tell the difference. that goes to show that you are not judgemental.
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
27 Aug 11
fact is that I love those places and would love a chance to ask them about where they are from - I often do anyway...
@veejay19 (3592)
• India
27 Aug 11
Personally i haven`t been exposed to either of the accents you have mentioned since we do not run into foreigners very much in my country and my city.However having heard these accents on TV,especially those related to cricket where we get to hear English,Australian,South African accents when the commentators speak relating the events taking on the field.It is quite easy to distuinguish all these accents seperately as they have very distinct intonations and pronunciations.I haven`t heard the Canadian accent so will not be able to really know how they speak but te other 3 are quite easy to make out and i have no difficulty in identifying them individually.
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
27 Aug 11
I guess if I were hearing them side by side like that it might be easier to tell
@cerebellum (3871)
• United States
27 Aug 11
You are not alone! A lot of people, including myself, can't tell what kind of an accent people have. I am from outside of Pittsburgh, and they say we have an accent. I lived in upper Pa. for awhile and everyone knew where I was from. It didn't seem that they talked any different from me. That was only a few hours away, and they could tell I wasn't from around there. The only thing I could tell was that they used different words than we do.
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
27 Aug 11
yeah... people used to say to me "you're not from here are you?" but with some many people here now from all over, I don't get that any more...
1 person likes this
• Canada
27 Aug 11
I have a problem with Asian accents, but I recognize all the accents from English speaking countries, the former Yugoslavia, and any Germanic language.
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
27 Aug 11
I can't tell the Asian accents either, heck, I can sorta tell some languages, but not from where. We have a lot of Middle Eastern people in Maggie's complex and a lot of Mexican and Central Americans. now... one time I was at mom's and there was a Middle Eastern lady on the phone, and someone complained that she was speaking Arabic - I said "I think its actually Farci." The lady interrupted her phone conversation, tho we weren't speaking loudly, to say "Yes, Farci." I think she was surprised I could tell the difference, but I really couldn't, its just that I knew that a large number of the people that are "legal" around here are political refugees from Iran and that's the language of Iran.
1 person likes this
@yoyo1198 (3644)
• United States
26 Aug 11
After working in several large teaching hospitals, I pretty much picked up on all kinds of accents. Interns, doctors, nurses and other staff come from all over the world to these institutions. You kind of get a feel (ear) for placing people after a few years. There's no secret to it. You just have to be around and listening for an extended time.
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
27 Aug 11
I guess that's it, I'm such an introvert I never went for jobs where I had a lot of public interaction - I WAS the perfect personality for data entry
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Aug 11
Some people just have a better ear for accents than do others. I can pick out a number of accents. However, if I'm chatting with the person, I usually have drawn all the basic details out long before I'd be able to decipher where the person is from based on her/his accent. Certain words do offer good clues. However, there will always be people like me who use words that come from various regions and cultures (i.e., "I decided to bunk class since I had to schlep to the doctor's this afternoon."). Plus, my accent is pretty well informed by American television--meaning, the accent itself is rather generic.
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
26 Aug 11
I do a certain amount of mixed words myself, since I'm also a child of American TV, but I also watch a lot of British programing. However, even tho I said my first words in Texas, I was more influenced by my parents and have less of a "Texas" accent than my siblings.
1 person likes this
@BarBaraPrz (17990)
• St. Catharines, Ontario
26 Aug 11
Funny you should mention accents... I just had to ask a fellow today where he was from, because I couldn't place his accent. (He was from South Africa.)
2 people like this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
26 Aug 11
I feel better now!!!!
2 people like this
@MsTickle (25007)
• Australia
2 Sep 11
You'd better add New Zealand to the mix then too I'm guessing. There are different states of America that have different accents too don't forget. Also, there are quite a few English dialects.
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
2 Sep 11
Yeah, I've learned that New Zealand is in there, and I've heard that there are various English dialects, however, I may not be able to pin down a particular state, I can tell the "region" a person comes from in the U.S. Tho I did meet a waiter once who's accent threw me, I asked him where he was from and he said "Michigan." It sounded like no "Michigan" accent I had ever heard, so I asked him "Upper or Lower." He just lite up like a bonfire, he said "Upper, and do you know how few people even KNOW there's an 'upper' part of Michigan?" I kind of laughed and said, "probably not a lot."
1 person likes this
@MsTickle (25007)
• Australia
2 Sep 11
Heheh, good story. I liked your "Dreamlink" story too btw.
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60142)
• United States
8 Sep 11
Oh, I'm glad you liked my story - I thought it was good...