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sanity-schmanity:

Picking up accents: it’s not weird.

Have you ever been talking with someone from another state or country and caught yourself accidentally picking up bits of their accent? Turns out it’s normal:

“An experiment with lip-reading has found that the brain subconsciously tries to copy the speech patterns of total strangers.

Researchers who made the discovery believe accent mimicry is part of the brain’s in-built urge to ‘empathise and affiliate’ with other people. And we don’t even need to hear them saying the words out loud.”

So researchers at the University of California did an experiment where they had volunteers watch a silent video of a face saying a bunch of simple words. They gave the volunteers a choice of two words and asked them to say which one they thought the face in the video had said. And look:

"They were not asked to either imitate or impersonate the talker, just say what the word was. But amazingly, the tests showed they were more likely to repeat the word in exactly the same accent used by the speaker rather than their own accent.”

Read more here.