August 11th, 2007

I sometimes wonder if Americans really listen.

I'm English. I've an English accent. I'm not posh, but I'm from a well educated, articulate, upper middle class family. I'm a well educated, articulate guy who went to private school and I don't really have a strong accent. I speak pretty quickly but other than that, I would say I don't really have any issues with how I speak.

And yet, people seem to have inordinate difficulty understanding what I say in America. When I was studying for my doctorate here, I was told by at least a couple of people they didn't understand what I was saying some of the time and that I was more unintelligible than Armenians, Germans, Indians and Chinese who were on my course.

Part of me wonders if Americans really listen when they're talking to you. I was watching CNN today and they subtitled someone who spoke perfectly comprehensible English if the watcher decided to listen to what was being said rather than half heartedly attempt to listen.

When I'm talking to someone, they have my 100% undivided attention, so my question for today is do Americans really not pay attention to what is being said to them or do they have that much difficulty with accents?