According to researchers at Bath Spa University, the effect is so pronounced that anyone with a particularly heavy Brummie twang is best advised to say nothing at all. The team of academics have been investigating stereotypes by showing volunteers pictures of the same people accompanied by three different soundtracks – one Brummie accent, one Yorkshire accent and one speaker of the ‘Queen’s English’ (as RP used to be known). They found that the Brummie version scored lowest of all for perceived intelligence – even lower than total silence. Berra shut yer cake ’ole, our kid.
But despite the poor reception given to those unfortunates of a West Midlands vocal persuasion, it seems that regional accents per se are no longer regarded as a sign of limited intellectual capacity. Perhaps surprisingly (although doubtless not to anyone who hails from God’s Own County), the Yorkshire accent came out top of the survey, with RP second and silence third.
The demise of RP as an indicator of superior brainpower is apparently due to the democratisation of higher education, and the fact that university graduates can no longer be identified by the way they greet one another with braying cries of ‘Air hair lair!’
The poor old Brummies are supposedly damned by the reputation of their patch as a hotbed of criminal activity, what with crime being popularly regarded as a rather stupid way to make a living - perhaps because the clever crooks, wherever they are from, don’t get caught. Ta-ra, ducks!