11 Difficult English Accents.

Olly Richards has an 18-minute YouTube video featuring “11 Difficult English Accents You WON’T Understand.” Clickbait title, sure, but it’s fun to test your ear; I thought at first I was going to go 0-for-11, since the first four baffled me, but then I got 5, 6, 7, and 9, so I felt better. (For the others, I usually got the general area but not the specific country/dialect.) Warning: the dude says things like “this patois is not considered a dialect of English because it has too many loan words” and “speaking just the way your ancestors did,” but never mind, he supplies a lot of useful historical information, and the dialects are great. (I expect there will be spoilers in the comments, so if you want to test yourself, maybe do so before you dive into the thread.)


  1. From one of the sections, I learned the pleasing term Kolokwa.

  2. Another thing I learned: in some places, “I don’t care to” means “I don’t mind doing it.”

  3. this patois is not considered a dialect of English because it has too many loan words
    A language is a dialect with an army and navy. a patois is a dialect with many loan words?

    P.S. Ah, he means “not English”, not “not a dialect”.

  4. I recall a story told by a nurse, hired for a job in East Kentucky, who was frustrated at the fact that one of her patients repeatedly refused to do some exercise (taking a walk, I seem to think). She finally explained to her supervisor that the patient kept saying “I don’t care to” …

  5. DARE says that usage of don’t care is “chiefly Midl[ands]”.

  6. OK, I have to ask: did anybody get Trinidadian?

  7. David Eddyshaw says

    Weeel, I got Glaswegian. But then I speak it myself, given enough whisky. Apart from that …

    The linguistic comments are largely extremely wrong, but you did warn us. They are nice clips.

  8. “… but you did warn us”
    …else we would of course think that LH is one of those people who could possibly like unprofessional linguistic comments.

  9. ktschwarz says

    If you like playing guess-the-accent, check out the podcast In a Manner of Speaking, which closes each episode with a clip from the International Dialects of English Archive, and gives the answer at the beginning of the next episode (after repeating the clip). The ones I’ve heard have been much less challenging than the ones in this video!

    the first four baffled me

    #4 (Appalachian) baffled you? That surprises me; it was the only one I thought was easy to guess. All the rest, I only got the general area at best; for Trinidadian, I thought it was somewhere in the Caribbean, but couldn’t pin it down beyond that. Had no idea about the one from Cape Town.

  10. I have to ask: did anybody get Trinidadian?

    Yes: in my college digs first year there was a Trinidadian who’d just got off the boat. And of course cricket/Brian Lara. But you wouldn’t understand.

    And I’m with @ktschwartz in having recognised several as Caribbean-ish. Can we count Guyanese there?

    #4 (Appalachian) baffled you?

    I got that straight away (from the movie Songcatcher).

    #1 Northumberland not Geordie I thought was Lake District.

    #5 Singapore I got after they switched from Singlish (which the dude confesses isn’t English) to local sing-song-lah.

    (#11 I got sidetracked into the history of “the descendants of the 16,000 African Americans who immigrated to Liberia in the nineteenth century”. Wha? Africans from America to Africa!)

  11. PlasticPaddy says

    Setting up ex-slaves with small holdings in Africa was sort of like Gladstone getting prostitutes jobs in laundries. All idealistic sentiment and goodwill, not so much pragmatism or follow-up.

  12. #4 (Appalachian) baffled you?

    Only because the first speaker was not representative of the dialect as I’m familiar with it. The woman who was shown after the dialect ID was right in my wheelhouse; if she’d been the opener, I’d have had no problem.

  13. And yes, I had no problem getting as far as “Caribbean” for the first (and others), but that’s not very far.

  14. I got Trinidadian, not because I recognized any aspect of the dialect but because the people looked South Asian and sounded Caribbean, a combination which I always assume means Trinidad.

  15. The descendants of the slaves who colonized Liberia dominated the economic and political life of the state up until Samuel Doe’s 1980 coup brought indigenous leaders to power for the first time.

  16. Jonathan D says

    I also guessed Lake District for Northumberland, and noticed the Caribbean-sounding South Asian-looking speakers, but guessed Guyana rather than Trinidad. I had another chance with Guyana, though… I thought Liberian was West African, but not one that I’ve been exposed to. I was sorta expecting more from Africa, and at least some from South Asia, for some reason.

    I also picked Appalachia, Singapore (the easiest, as far as I was concerned!), Jamaica, Newfoundland (lucky guess) and Glasgow.

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