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What Are Our Accents Trying to Tell Us?

A tour of the stories our different voices tell.

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The farther you are from home, the more likely people will notice your way of speaking is different than theirs. Which of course leaves you more likely to pick up on the quirks and cadences of their voices, even if they claim to have “no accent.” (As if there’s such a thing.)

These accents, noticed or not, can signal things we’re eager to share or hide, celebrate or play down. If anything, speaking differently than those around you is a sign of bravery and adventure—of a story that sits beneath subtle variations in pronunciation and word choice. We’ve gathered some of these stories here, from the plight of losing your accent to the mismatch between voice-activated technology and non-American voices. Read on to explore how our ways of speaking can connect, reveal, and betray us.

Image by Serhii Vakulenchyk / Getty Images

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