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Study reveals why Brits sound smarter than Americans

Ben Thompson

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| Last updated 

Study reveals why Brits sound smarter than Americans

Featured Image Credit: Cinematic Collection / Alamy Stock Photo / 20th Television

It's often been said that British accents can make someone appear smarter than they actually are.

Americans, in particular, are notorious for fawning over a Brit's accent.

A recent study in the Journal of Pragmatics reveals that Brits and Americans may have a wider gap in communication than originally thought, despite both speaking English.

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A study has revealed why Brits sound smarter than Americans. Credit: Pixabay
A study has revealed why Brits sound smarter than Americans. Credit: Pixabay

Researchers from Rutgers University in New Jersey have paid particular attention to how the word 'right' is used in conversation, and how it's applied differently on each side of the Atlantic.

Americans use the word to show that they already have knowledge of a conversation topic, whereas Brits will use the word to acknowledge that information they are receiving is relevant to a conversation at hand.

To an American, the way British people use 'right' makes them sound like they already know what is being said, leading them to appear more informed than they may actually be.

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In addition, the British accent carries with it a stereotype of sophistication that also, according to many Americans, makes the speaker sound more intelligent.

The situation is made all the more confusing for Yanks due to the fact the British famously use 'right' a significant amount more in conversation.

The way Brits and Americans use 'right' in conversation has caused some confusion. Credit: Pixabay
The way Brits and Americans use 'right' in conversation has caused some confusion. Credit: Pixabay

Rutgers' team were inspired to look into this phenomena after overhearing a Brit and American in discussion.

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The American was explaining a situation to their British friend, prompting the 'right' response repeatedly.

This confused the American, as they queried how their friend already knew the information they were being told.

In order to study this phenomenon, the team used Conversation Analysis, a method that studies social interactions and talk-in-interaction, to examine the use of 'right' in American and British interactions.

Drawing upon a collection of 125 transcribed segments of everyday conversation, 70 in British English and 55 in American English, the team drew out a comparison between the slight linguistic differences.

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Speaking of the research, Rutgers' professor of communication, Galina Bolden said: "[The research] sheds light on how minute linguistic differences, which we might not even recognize, impact our interactions with others and color our perceptions of their expertise and knowledge."

To an American, the way British people use 'right' makes them sound like they already know what is being said. Credit: dcphoto / Alamy Stock Photo
To an American, the way British people use 'right' makes them sound like they already know what is being said. Credit: dcphoto / Alamy Stock Photo

English accents have long been a source of interest for Americans, who have been left in shock upon discovering the real accents of some celebrities.

People were left gobsmacked previously when they discovered that Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things fame had a British accent - despite playing an American on the show.

Topics: News, Weird

Ben Thompson
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