Why Are Native English Speakers So Difficult To Understand?

Picture yourself sipping tea in a bustling London café.

The waiter greets you with a broad smile: “You alright there, luv? Fancy a natter? 

What at first sounds like a code for British secret agents is actually simple colloquial language. 

But why does the English native speakers speak often seem so difficult to understand?

We’ve all experienced this feeling: you learn a language for years at school or university and suddenly—BAM!—you’re in the middle of a real conversation with native speakers—and it feels as if they’re speaking another language. 

So why does it often seem like a foreign dialect to us?

First of all, the British often swallow words.

They use abbreviations (“uni” for “university“), simply leave out end syllables (“goin” for “going”) and replace whole words with sounds (“gonna” for “going to“).

Another reason lies in the many different accents and dialects that the English language has to offer.

From Cockney to Geordie to the Deep South of the United States, each has its own charm and its own challenges.

And then there are the idioms and colloquial language.

Translated literally, they often make little sense, but in their cultural context they are indispensable for a fluent conversation.

Who would have thought that “Bob’s your uncle” is not meant literally or that a simple “piece of cake” has nothing to do with dessert?

But don’t worry! As with everything in life, practice makes perfect.

With every film, podcast or conversation, your understanding of the English language will improve

And who knows? You might be ordering your next “cuppa” very soon!

But now it’s your turn! Which expressions or dialects have confused you the most?


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Foto Christine Sparks

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