Interesting piece of research: that if we mimic other people\’s accents when talking to them, we understand what they are saying better.
As if by using their accent (as best we can mind) we\’re training our own ears to understand them better: not, as some might think, in order that they understand us better (you know, on the basis that they\’re so thick that we have to adapt our tones to their).
I have to admit that I\’m a horror for doing exactly this. When living in the US (or, over the years, just working with septics) I do take on a very mid Atlantic accent (and you can even see it in some of my writing, \”an herb\” for example). But when talking to the Brit next to me will switch back, entirely unconsciously, to the rather archaic BBC I have.
Or when I was working in an East End pub, quite happily wittering on about \”nuffink\”.
But this only works for me in English, with other variants of English. When in another language (not that I speak any others fluently, but over the years have had conversational French, business Russian and supermarket Portuguese) I try as best I can to get the local accent right. And when someone else is not a native speaker of one of the variants of English, when someone is, for example, French, Portuguese or Russian, but we are conversing in English, my accent becomes even more archaically BBC….World Service of 30 years ago almost. Exactly the opposite of what I do with other English speakers.
On the grounds that that is, if spoken clearly and slowly (but no, not loudly), the variant of English which is easiest for a non-native speaker to understand.
Slightly odd and entirely unthought through: I think just all these years abroad have trained me into what works best for me.
I would add though that my native Bathonian never gets used more than a mile or two from Bath Town Centre. No one more than a mile or two from there understands it anyway, making it a singularly unuseful accent to have.