The Birmingham accent is considered the least attractive accent in the British Isles – and Southern Irish the most appealing
A quick analysis of English dialects shows that there are roughly as many in the British Isles as there are in the whole of North America – including Canada, Bermuda and Native American dialects. The same categorisation would, in North America, result in there being about one dialect per 10m people; in the British Isles there would be one for every 1.3m. Britain is highly peculiar in its linguistic variation, and the cultural contours associated with these differences make a small country feel large.
First impressions of unearned features, such as accents, still have an impact on success, in employment, social life and elsewhere. New YouGov research looks at public opinion towards 12 of the main accents of the British Isles, revealing clear winners and losers, at least in terms of what is seen as attractive.
The Birmingham accent, more specifically 'Brummie', has lost the battle of appeal. In net terms it scores -53, 20 points below than the second-lowest: 'Scouse', the accent of Liverpool, on -33. The map below can be explored for full results.
Southern Ireland, which for a long time had a shrinking population largely due to emigration (which means the accent is well-known worldwide), is the best accent to have for being considered attractive. It scores net 42, 11 points ahead of the standard accent of mainly the Southern areas of Britain – Received Pronunciation, or 'BBC English'.
There are some vast differences in perceived attractiveness of accents by age. The West Country accent is considered the most attractive to over-60s. 63% of the oldest generation see it as attractive, compared to only 22% of 18-24 year-olds. The opposite perception has developed for Northern Irish, with most 18-24 year-olds (54%) seeing it as attractive compared to only 37% of over-60s. Geordie, the Newcastle accent, also has a greater appeal to older British people.
Additionally, there is a tendency to like ones own. People in London score cockney net -16, while overall it is disliked by -30; Glaswegian is liked by net 7 in Scotland, but a greatly different -29 among Britain as a whole. The pattern continues for the other regions and their respective accents as well.