I’ve always perceived myself to be quite good at sussing out people’s backgrounds via their accents. Be it a soft tilt in their voice, or an abrasive nasal accent I most often get it right.

 BUT I have problems distinguishing an American accent from a Canadian one (and vice versa). Owing to which corner of the US/Canada the individuals come from you can obviously figure it out as some are quite pronounced and accents  associated with certain states are really strong and hard to miss. But if I came across someone who had a relatively “normal/average” US accent (such as a New Yorker) and a “normal/average” Canadian accent (from Toronto) I can’t tell the difference.

There was a young man of around 26 who used to work with me. I noticed his accent and assumed he was American. However I didn’t ask if he was from the US – which was a good thing because one of my other work colleagues assummed the same and decided to ask,  leaving the young man flabbergasted and quite annoyed! He wasn’t happy being mistaken for an American.

 And the other accent I have problem with is the Australian and New Zealand variations. In one of my temporary student jobs at the university there was a young lady who was meant to supervise us. Cut a long story short she had to leave because her health went downhill and so we were left to the job ourselves. I initially thought she was Australian. But again I didn’t ask for clarification or to confirm my assumption, but another girl did and was subsequently told nope she was a New Zealander!

Which accents can you just not get right?

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