One of my favorite things about living in New York is that it seems just about everyone has an accent of some kind. I am particularly attuned to accents and inflections, maybe as an extension of music sensitivity, or as another layer of generally loving language. I find I try to prolong conversations when I particularly enjoy someone’s accent, and I am guilty of sometimes tossing in a non sequitur to sneakily lure people into saying words I’d like to hear in their accents without embarrassing them by asking for a performance.
Plenty of people have said they like my voice, but because I am from New Jersey, there have only been a handful who go so far as to claim they like my accent. I also have a tendency to speak way too quickly, which distorts vowel sounds so I sometimes sound like a frenzied Canadian, and I think I picked up more New England at school in Connecticut than I meant to.
In one of my sillier idiosyncrasies, I can’t find a man attractive if I don’t like the tone of his voice or the way he speaks. I know I’m not alone in this quirk, but I don’t think people spend as much time obsessing about sound and inflection as I do, so they would just chalk it up to a vague “not feeling it” and move on without over-analysis.
But obviously that’s not how I roll, so…
An Arbitrary Ranking of Accents I Find Most Appealing in Men
(And occasionally the sexiest examples of them)
- British-Inflected Indian or Middle Eastern
This is most frequently a guy from India or the Middle East who has learned English in the UK or been taught by a pedantic Britisher, and it is by far the loveliest, most beautiful accent I’ve ever heard. It is also one of the most subtly varied, as it combines thousands of regional accents or dialects with several levels of British accent (usually aiming for upper crust) so each person has their own iteration.
There is something rugged but sensual in a Scottish accent that makes me swoon. It sometimes also comes as a delightful surprise when a guy opens his mouth and the Highlands topple out.
- Irish brogue
Ex.: Chris O’Dowd
I may be showing my cultural bias a bit too much here, but I do believe I am hard-wired to find an Irish accent attractive, and it seems I am not alone, as a random 2009 survey found the Irish accent to be sexiest in the world. In addition to the Ireland-Irish brogue, I also adore the Jersey City inflection that some of my best-loved and most-missed family members had. That one seems to be a specific historical immigration moment, so it’s unlikely I will ever find a guy my age with it, sadly.
- Classic British / Queen’s English
Ex.: Colin Firth all day, Henry Cavill especially in The Tudors
It is completely colonial, but I will do just about anything a guy with a British accent suggests, including melt into a puddle. It is the hopelessly elegant, gentlemanly accent of Jane Austen and my dreams, and I find it plainly irresistible.
Let’s just really look at Henry Cavill for a moment.
What a gorgeous man.
- Richly Textured NYC Area
Ex.: Steve Buscemi
Like I said, I grew up in New Jersey, and I’ve lived in one of the five boroughs for the better part of the last 13 years, so a disproportionate amount of the jabronies I’ve adored have had this type of accent. Thickly Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and even Staten Island accents are like catnip for me. People who claim the NYC accent is just an Italian-American accent aren’t listening closely enough. If someone grew up in NYC, Long Island, or north-central New Jersey, you can not only pinpoint their borough, but usually their neighborhood too. There are few treats better than listening to a NYC guy go on a rant about something small that annoys him.
- Lyrical Northern Italian, especially Venetian and Milanese
Ex.: Ignazio Oliva as Osvaldo Donati in Stealing Beauty
Also acceptable are some Florentine and Roman accents, basically most Italian accents except Napoli and Sicilian. I was surprised to learn when working in Italy that their regional accents are as distinct as Americans find our Northeastern and Deep Southern accents. I learned to speak Italian in Venice, which has its own peculiarities, and as I moved further south in the country I had a harder time understanding people and being understood. It wasn’t just me, though – other researchers on our team from Florence and the Pisa area couldn’t understand the Sicilians at all either. Needless to say, I still have dreams about some of the sweet nothings I heard in northern Italian accents.
- Central and South American Hispanic
Ex.: Gael García Bernal
There is a reason I learned to speak Spanish in grade school. So far the only Hispanic accents I don’t like are the ones that are inflected with California / Southwestern American because the cadence annoys me to distraction. It’s been 50/50 on guys from Spain, but it’s case by case as long as they don’t do that Castilian lisp. But quickly lilting, forcefully spoken Hispanic-accented English is enchanting.
- Unaware Corn-Fed Midwestern
This one is hard to explain, but people from certain parts of the Midwest say specific words with no idea that they have an accent, and it is adorable. There is something about the vowel sounds and the way the mouth seems to wrap around words that, along with the cadence, is deeply comforting and can be genuinely charming.
- French who has lived in New York for a while or speaks to Americans often
I find British-inflected French totally unappealing, but a French guy who has lived in New York has an accent that becomes delectable with time. The first time I was in Paris a guy at a crepe place wanted to speak with me at length to practice his English, and his accent was also something I could listen to all day.
- Regular Indian
Ex.: Irrfan Khan
So far it hasn’t mattered what region an Indian guy is from, the non-British-inflected Indian speaking English is always a beautiful accent to me. I think it’s a combination of the softness of some sounds, the elongation of others, and the clipped boyish pitch of “dee” and “tee” sounds. Indian English is kind of its own form, both in pronunciation and grammar, and I am entranced listening to it. Indian guys also tend to speak English with a distinct personal rhythm, which is thoroughly hypnotic to me. You can imagine how much I enjoy an Indian guy saying “Vicki” or “Victoria,” and I even like when they do it in repetition from exasperation.
- Soft-Spoken Japanese
Ex.: Hiro Mizushima as Yoshi on Girls
Some Japanese guys have a gentle yet assertive way of speaking English that is inexplicably so attractive specifically because it’s slow, even though I’m usually incredibly impatient with slow-talking. The combination of English with Japanese vowel sounds and rhythm comes off as careful and controlled in an amazingly alluring way.
- South African
Ex.: Trevor Noah on The Daily Show
My love of the South African accent actually comes from a few friends, but I am pleased to have Trevor Noah on television regularly reminding me of why I love speaking with them so much.
- Christoph Waltz
Whatever he says, I love hearing it. I don’t think I would enjoy literally anyone else speaking in his accent, but he’s great.
So that’s my top 13. For now. Based on completely arbitrary memories and experiences and people I’ve known and the way they’ve informed my preferences.
I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed Google image searching so much, hee.