by Kiersten Hallie Krum
This week, I read a book by Cara McKenna called Her Best Laid Plans in which a mid-20s woman, Jamie, goes to Ireland for vacation after a bad breakup and meets and falls for hot Irish bartender, Connor. Sounds like a perfect vacation to me. It’s a good, fun, sexy read and not only because I’ve been to several of the places she visited (horseback riding on The Dingle FTW!).
An Irish accent adds a lyrical lilt to the English language and is, in my experience, something better captured as an essence rather than recreated verbatim by reforming words. It dances like music on top of the vowels and consonants. Throughout Her Best Laid Plans, McKenna uses a light hand to highlight these inflections in Connor’s language. Occasionally, Jamie repeats a word or two in her head with an exaggerated spelling as she enjoys the verbal music. I found myself sounding them out with her, often with an entertained smile on my face as I heard a male Irish-accented voice in my ear. Dayam, but I love me a man with an accent.
It’s become cliche now to say that. Like that subplot in Love Actually where Colin Frissell goes to the American Midwest to get laid because he knows, dorky looking as he may be, American women will find his British accent hotter than Atlanta on fire. It’s funny because it’s true. But why?
None of us think we have an accent but likely all of us do. I’d swear up and down that I don’t sport a Jersey accent (unless I want to or am trying to make a point) but one of my college roommates liked to needle me for the particular “aw” flavor I add to the word “office.” Whether regional dialect or foreign influence, we all mark where we come from by how we speak–and sometimes how we don’t speak.
And yet, having a certain kind of accent ups the hotness factor almost as much as one of the wrong kinds of accents can lower it. Serve up some Tom Hiddleston reading poetry or sprouting Shakespeare and I’m gonna need a moment in my bunk.
Or how ’bout Ioan Gruffudd performing 13th century poetry live? Ya huh. It’s like that.
Why do women (and men, I’m sure) find foreign accents so attractive? A quick Google search reveals a surprising lack of any serious information on the subject, outside of some forum discussions and their adorable overall lack of veracity. The idea that a man (or woman, but mostly men) is made more attractive with an accent is just nearly universally accepted. There’s even a dating site designed to hook you up with a partner who sports the accent of your choice. An accent can up the attractiveness quotient of a man by at least 40% and that’s before adding tequila to the equation. Think of a man talking dirty in bed with you and crank it higher imagining that voice tinged with an accent. Hoo. Shah.
Is it the intrigue of the unfamiliar, the lure of something different? As Americans, we’re kind of conditioned, by Hollywood or an Old World remnant not quite washed out of our DNA by the Revolution, to believe men with accents, particularly that sophisticated, upper class Oxbridge British accent, are automatically more intelligent and cultured than their American counterparts. Welshmen have the fast patter with a particular way of hitting soft on hard consonants that lift the meaning of the most mundane items. Irish and Scottish men are charming and suave, seducing women as much with their voices as anything else.
Step outside of the UK and add a more continental flair with a Spanish or Frenchman or the lush seduction of an Italian accent. This CNN list of the world’s 13 most favorite accents includes Nigerian, Thai, and Argentine. There’s also this list of the top 10 sexiest accents in the world, a list first name checked by our own Elizabeth Shore way back in April of 2014. People dig the accents and I may not know why, but I’m right there with ’em.
Do accents turn you on? Do you have a favorite? Does it really matter?
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