The United States is full of curious accents derived from all sorts of cultural backgrounds. Here in Louisiana, we have about 37 accents in the coastal parishes alone. As someone who hails from north of Alexandria, it took several years of study to be able to understand most people in and around Acadiana

And, yes, I still struggle with it.

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So, imagine my surprise when I get an email about a new study that shows which domestic accent Americans struggle with most. "Surely," I thought to myself, "some variety of Cajun accent confounds more Americans than any other accent." Naturally, I was wrong to assume that.

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As it turns out, Americans identify the "New Orleans accent" as the one they struggle most to understand. It's likely because most people outside of Louisiana just assume New Orleans is representative of the rest of the state, which is just silly.

The study in question actually has very little to do with accents and mostly with how we watch TV. Do you watch your shows with or without subtitles? What would make you need to turn on the subtitles of a movie or show you're streaming?

WordFinder attempted to find out. Here's what they tell us.

  • Over 2 in 5 Americans prefer to watch content with subtitles to understand accents.
  • On average, Americans watch 21 hours of subtitled content weekly, with nearly a quarter of Americans believing subtitles should be on by default.
  • New Orleans ranks #1 for domestic accents Americans struggle most to understand.
Credit: WordFind
Credit: WordFind

Outside of the domestic accents, however...

Two of the most challenging accents for survey respondents to understand, Japanese and Arabic, are also among the most challenging languages for English speakers to learn. The older three generations struggled most with Japanese accents, while Gen Zers had issues with Scottish accents. But these challenges shouldn’t deter anyone from binge-watching the best foreign language shows on Netflix. If anything, the benefits of subtitles are a reason for viewers to add more foreign shows to their watchlist.

Now, if anyone had asked me, I would have said that Kaplan accents were the ones I struggled to understand the most, but I got there (I fell in love with the people of Kaplan when I was writing about high school sports in Vermilion Parish.

Delcambre is another (again, I say this with nothing but love and adoration for the people of Delcambre). Across south and southwest Louisiana, I've found way more people I struggled to understand than I have on any trip to New Orleans.

And don't even get me started on Moon Griffon.

It's just silly to say that "New Orleans" is the accent you struggle to understand the most. You need to actually explore Louisiana and meet the people here to really learn about accents.

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