According to a new study, if a Northerner’s accent isn’t the sexiest, he or she is deemed “less intelligent.” ‘Accentism’ is a thing at it seems that people have an ‘unconscious bias’ depending on people’s accents.
After interviewing more than 350 people from various areas of life for over a four-year project at Northumbria University in Newcastle, it was discovered that prejudice is causing injustice across the UK.
Dr Robert McKenzie, a sociolinguist led the project and said he was “disappointed”. The Northern accent is deemed as ‘friendly and trustworthy’, which is a plus, but ‘less educated’ than people from down south.
The Mirror reported McKenzie said: “People still think others sound stupid, lack intelligence or ambition or sound unfriendly from the way they speak. It is not based in reality – it is based on social judgements in the wider community.”
“As a linguist we have been looking at language in this way for the past 50 years.”
The experiment involved playing northern and southern speaking samples to people in the study and then asking them to associate positive traits such as whether or not they sounded educated or not. The study found people were biased when it came to northern accents.
In another test of 300,000 civil servants, it found that staff that had the ‘right accent’ were promoted were likely to be promoted.
Dr McKenzie added: “It is like the old school tie, it gets people places when they do not merit it.” Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, has previously hit back at critics of her “accent and grammar”.
Check out the study in the British Academy.