Skip to Content

What is considered no accent?

There is no single accent that is universally considered to be “no accent.” Accents are based on pronunciation, which varies by region and other factors. However, some accents are perceived as more mainstream or neutral than others in certain cultural contexts.

What is an accent?

An accent refers to the distinctive way people pronounce words based on factors like where they grew up and learned to speak. Accents are part of a dialect, which also includes vocabulary and grammar.

Everyone speaks with an accent. There is no such thing as accent-less speech. Some accents, however, are considered more mainstream or standard within a particular language or culture.

Accents perceived as standard or neutral

Certain accents tend to be perceived as more mainstream and neutral than others. In the United States, Standard American English accents like General American and Mainstream Midwestern are considered by many as standard accents.

General American is a mildly Midwestern accent spoken by many newscasters. Mainstream Midwestern accents are common in states like Iowa and Nebraska.

In the United Kingdom, Received Pronunciation (RP), sometimes called BBC English, is considered the standard accent. RP is a mid-Southern British accent traditionally associated with upper class speech.

In Australia, General Australian is considered the neutral Australian accent. It does not sound distinctly of any specific regional dialect.

In each culture, these accents tend to be used by public personalities and in roles like broadcasting where wide intelligibility is important. They are accents used in formal settings and for positions of authority.

Why some accents are perceived as neutral

Certain accents come to be thought of as standard or neutral for several reasons:

  • They are spoken in major media and cultural hubs.
  • They are associated with prestigious social groups.
  • They lack distinguishing regional or ethnic traits.
  • They are spoken by the dominant cultural group.

For example, General American developed early on in the Midwest, the heartland of the country. It is not characteristic of any particular region. RP originated in London among upper class speakers.

Criticisms of the concept of standard accents

There are some criticisms of the notion that certain accents are standard or neutral:

  • It implies other accents are inferior or nonstandard.
  • It reflects cultural biases and power structures.
  • It does not recognize the validity of language variation.

Linguistic research shows that all accents and dialects follow internally consistent grammatical rules. No single version of a language is inherently superior.

The idea that certain accents are neutral can lead to discrimination. Speakers of stigmatized accents may face negative perceptions.


While the concept remains controversial, certain accents are still perceived as standard or neutral within their cultural context. In the US, UK, and Australia, mainstream accents like General American, Received Pronunciation, and General Australian tend to be viewed this way.

However, the notion that a particular accent is accent-less or standard ultimately reflects subjective social ideologies about class, region, and identity. All forms of spoken language have legitimacy and systematic structure, even if some are more prestigious and intelligible than others.