Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever heard of accent hallucination?

Have you ever assumed that somebody was from a certain part of the world based on how they looked?

We have all made assumptions about people, and this includes the type of accent that they have.

We are going to learn what it means to have accent hallucination, and why you want to avoid that moving forward.

With out special guest, we are going to learn that we all have accents and why we need to let go of our preconceived notions about them.

Get Your Transcripts Today!

Make sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Bring your English to the advanced level with new vocabulary and natural expressions.

Subscribe and get the transcripts delivered by email.

Learn to speak naturally with the American accent.

Click here to subscribe and save 50%

Understanding An Aspect of Linguistics

Accent hallucination is when someone imagines hearing an accent that isn’t really there.

We have a very special guest with us today, Carrie Gillon, who is a co-host for the Vocal Fries podcast.

She is a former professor of linguistics and she now wants to spread the word about the many issues in this area.

One of the big issues is linguistic discrimination, or the way that we judge each other based on how we talk.

This is a hot issue and so she helped to start her podcast to discuss this and other such issues.

How do you choose your topics?

Sometimes she may see something the news and therefore address it.

She has other specialists on the show that can help to bring big issues into the disussion.

Linguistic discrimination is something that very few people talk about much.

This is important and there are things that we can all do about it.

The topic today is accent hallucination which is bigger than you might think in terms of issues.

This is to say that you perceive something that isn’t really there.

That’s what a hallucination is, and it can also be something like a mirage that isn’t really there but you perceive it.

When it comes to imagining an accent, it’s saying that you already perceive somebody to be a certain way.

You may want to take this one step further because you want to learn from having preconceived notions.

Letting Go Of Preconceived Notions

If you have been a part of accent hallucination then you want to learn from that experience.

There was a study that took college students who listened to an audio and were given pictures of people to go along with it.

Many people perceived that a picture of a white woman was American and had that sort of accent.

These other half of the students were given a picture of an Asian woman and perceived that she had a “foreign accent.”

This wasn’t true and the audio was the same for both, but based on the pictures this is what people perceived just looking at pictures alone.

Our perceptions influence what we see and what we hear, and this is an example of it.

This is a problem and definitely a form of discrimination, and so we have to keep that in mind and be aware.

What we really need to do is teach people that this happens.

We come with preconceived notions about people, and that’s a big part of the problem.

You assume that somebody with an Asian looking face is going to have an Asian accent.

This is not always the case, and you are going off of perception alone.

You have to think about what you are really hearing and not just the way that you might perceive something.

We are influenced by so many things and we see things through a lense.

You Can Learn So Much From Different People and Situations

On an individual level, it can help to expose yourself to multiple different people and situations.

If you are exposed to different cultures and many different types of people can help with the preconceived notions dramatically.

When people are learning English, they may perceive that they are going to learn this from a white American–this is not at all the case because it can come from many different people.

If people have an accent then people perceive that they are not learning as much, but that’s not true.

Everyone has an accent, and we all speak a certain way based on where we grow up and who we are around.

Nobody is without an accent, it’s impossible!

Native English speakers may not necessarily always understand each other because our accents or dialects are so different.

Indian English may be spoken by a native English speaker, but may have an accent that is different than others.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a native speaker, it’s just a matter of sounding different.

So rather than making assumptions it’s best to see the situation for what it is and learn from it.

It’s All About Being Understood

Far too many people worry about their accent or other people’s accents when they talk.

Rather than focusing on that it’s really all about being understood when you speak, and not about having an accent that matters.

What are the words that people are having a hard time in understanding when I speak?

That’s a much better question to ask yourself instead of worrying about having a certain type of accent like an American.

It’s when you are trying to aim to sound like an “American accent” that doesn’t make sense because there are so many different ones.

Somebody from New York may be a native English speaker but has their own accent.

Then there’s the Midwest accent which is different and what people automatically assume is the typical “American accent.”

You are getting a new tool rather than shedding your identity.

Your accent is a part of your identity, and you don’t want to let go of it.

You want to add onto who you are and how you speak, rather than worrying about trying to shed something that makes you who you are.

If you can readjust your way of thinking to this, it will be much better for your comprehension and overall English learning in the process.

This Is Another Way of Improving Your English Comprehension

Embrace the accent that you have and don’t make assumptions about others.

That’s an important lesson to take with you, and it can help you with your English comprehension and in so many other things that you do.

Keep working hard, keep trying to achieve your goals, keep trying to work at perfecting your vocabulary, but don’t try to shed who you are.

Your accent is an important part of who you are, but you can add another language without changing that.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have had some preconceived notions in the past, but rather just learn from this moving forward.

This is a great way to improve upon what you are learning within English so that you can be your best.

You can also check out more of these lessons that Carrie is teaching. is the easiest way to find the podcast, and they have new episodes every two weeks.

So many wonderful things to learn from this podcast and it’s well worth checking out.

They are discussing issues within linguistics that you can likely benefit from or may have never even thought of before.


You have probably never thought of something like linguistic hallucination, but it is a real thing that you should be aware of.

Any time that we perceive something that isn’t really there, then this creates a problem.

You want to be very aware of the situation and try to listen and see the person before you for who they really are.

This is a good topic to focus on and a good example of how we need to see things and people for who and what they really are.

This is an important part of the learning process that you want to be aware of, and it helps you to become more well versed and educated as well.


Carrie Gillon is a former professor of linguistics who is primarily interested in Indigenous languages of North America. Carrie also worries about linguistic discrimination and the harm it can do to most people. She started the Vocal Fries with Megan to convince everyone that linguistic discrimination is just bigotry in a slightly more socially acceptable form. When she’s not tilting at windmills, she’s knitting, cuddling with her 4 cats or reading way too much news.

Megan Figueroa is a scientist, writer, and podcaster. She earned her Ph.D. in Linguistics in 2018 from The University of Arizona, where she studied how children learn language. She is the co-host of The Vocal Fries, a podcast about the many ways we discriminate based on language. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Visit their website

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X
  • App-Store-Button
  • google-play-badge
  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X