Have you ever been watching a movie, and thought – that’s the fakest Southern accent I’ve ever heard. Or been surprised by a interview, when you realized the guy on “House” is British! Well, the ability to perfectly mimic accents may be something you’re born with.
Neurologist Dr. Sophie Scott studied brain MRIs of language specialists who are able to pick up very subtle differences in regional accents.
The result: The brains of the language experts had definite differences in the left auditory cortex, which is more sensitive to the different sounds in speech. And the more unique an accent sounds to you, the easier it is for you to duplicate.
Dr. Amee Shah is a speech and hearing professor at Cleveland State University. And she says that with practice, anybody can improve their ability to imitate accents. But in her workshops, some people easily pick up an “American” accent in a few sessions, while others struggle for weeks. And some never quite get there.
How can you tell if you’ve got an ear for accents? If you’re around someone with an accent - and you subconsciously copy them – you do.