In the unending pursuit of love, or its less eternal surrogate, the right accent can be as attractive as bright eyes, a beaming smile and a parabolic backside.
For world travelers, a far-flung tongue promises the unknown, confirms the known and dispels the thought-we-knew.
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But no accent is sexy when it’s strong enough to crush a beer can. Which means not all accents are created equal.
It’s estimated that there are nearly 7,000 languages on earth. That’s nearly 7,000 different ways to traipse clumsily through the English language or to sex it up like a Justin Timberlake song wrapped in chocolate cleavage.
Which begs our list of the world’s sexiest brogues. Some of you may have a legitimate case for inclusion in the top twelve. Others — we’re looking at you, Vietgermans — do not.
Our also-rans included Putonghua (especially when Taiwanese women speak it in gentle tones), Australian (as appealing as warm Foster’s to some, tantalizingly exotic to others) and Japanese (the language of repressed salarymen is also strangely designed for pillow talk).
Because when it comes to accents, there are no absolutes. Except that Bronx English is absolutely horrible.
12. Argentine The bad news: she finds your bad breath and dirty elbows repulsive. The good news: it sounded totally hot when she told you.
Famous tongues: Fernando Lamas, Gabriela Sabatini
A historical refuge for Spaniards, Italians and Germans, the hyper-libidinous South Ameripean melting pot of Argentina has cultivated a proud, pouty tone. With its own pronunciation of Spanish letters (“ll” sounds like “shh”) and its own words (“you” is “vos”), this is a dialect that’s hard to get. (Or at least plays that way.)
Sounds like: A tightly tuned guitar of G-strings strummed by a lamb shank
11. Thai He not only floats like a butterfly, he speaks like one, too.
Famous tongues: Tony Jaa, Tata Young
With five tones comprising their native speech, the traffickers of this often fragile accent turn any language into a song of seduction. Thai is largely monosyllabic, so multi-beat foreign words get extra emphases right up until the last letter, which is often left off, leaving the listener wanting more. (Or at least asking “Huh?” lustfully.)
Sounds like: R-rated karaoke
10. Trinidadian If their accents don’t seduce you, their mon bosoms will.
Famous tongues: Nikki Minaj, Billy Ocean
For fetishists of oddball sexuality, the Caribbean island of Trinidad offers an undulating, melodic gumbo of pan-African, French, Spanish, Creole and Hindi dialects that, when adapted for English, is sex on a pogo stick.
Sounds like: A rubber life raft bobbing on a sea of steel drums
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9. Brazilian Portuguese She screams, she scores!
Famous tongues: Alice Braga, Anderson Silva
Perhaps owing to its freedom from French influence, the Brazilian Portuguese accent has a more colorful, puerile flair than its coarser European counterpart. The resulting yowl of drawn-out vowels reveals a flirty freedom of spirit that sounds like a permanent vacation.
Sounds like: The near, then far, then near again hum of a low-wattage vacuum cleaner that runs on dance sweat
8. U.S. Southern Y’all, we love it when y’all call us y’all. Especially when y’all are wearing orange chaps.
Famous tongues: Matthew McConaughy, Britney Spears
There’s nothing sexy about being in a hurry, and you could clock the growth rate of grass with the honeyed drawl — less Tea Party, more “True Blood” — of a Southern beau or belle.
Sounds like: Molasses taking a smoking break
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7. Oxford British “Down to your last pair of socks then, what?”
Famous tongues: Hugh Laurie, Sienna Miller
Authoritative. Upright. Erudite. Scholarly. Few accents promise the upward nobility of the Queen’s English. It’s a take on the language that sets hearts devoted to James Bond and Hermione Granger aflutter. And, should the speaker fail to slake your most wanton desires, eh, at least you’ll learn something.
Sounds like: A crisply ironed shirt playing a harp
Where does French land? Who has the sexiest accent? Click on to find out.
6. Irish Just lay off the leprechaun jokes and you’ll be fine.
Famous tongues: Colin Farrell, Andrea Corr
Valued slightly more in men than in women, the Irish brogue is a lilting, lyrical articulation that’s charming, if not exotic. Fluid and uplifting, it can swing from vulnerable to threatening over the course of a sentence, restoring your faith in the world again … right before it stabs you with a broken bottle top.
Sounds like: A marauding pixie
5. Nigerian Some Nigerians are actually worth giving your bank account information to.
Famous tongues: King Sunny Adé, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde
Dignified, with just a hint of willful naiveté, the deep, rich “oh’s” and “eh’s” of Naija bend the English language without breaking it, arousing tremors in places other languages can’t reach. Kinda makes the occasional phone scam worth the swindle.
Sounds like: The THX intro with teeth
4. Czech Smoky eyes? Czech. Intrguing history? Czech. Meat-flavored accent? Czech.
Famous tongues: Petra Nemcova, Jaromír Jágr
Like Russian, without the nettlesome history of brutal, iron-fisted despotism, Czech is a smoky, full-bodied vocal style that goes well with most meats. Murky and mysterious, the Bohemian tone is equal parts carnal desire and carnival roustabout.
Sounds like: Count Dracula, secret agent
3. Spanish “¿Número tres? ¿Qué clase de idiota eres?” Ah, no one rejects us so hotly.
Famous tongues: Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz
Sensual and beckoning, but with the passion to unleash hell kept just barely restrained, Castilian is like a dialectic Hoover Dam. But then there’s the lisp. Tender, vulnerable and cute as a baby’s hangnail — no one owns the “th” sound formed by tongue and teeth like those who speak the language of Cervantes.
Sounds Like: An outboard motor on Lake Paella
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2. French Even when they pout it sounds good.
Famous tongues: Sophie Marceau, Jean Reno
The demotion of this perennial prizewinner of global brogues to second place may illustrate the declining sexuality of Old World petulance. Still, the come-hither condescension and fiery disinterest of the French tongue remains paradoxically Intimate.
Sounds like: A 30-year-old teenager
1. Italian Even when bathing in a fountain, a romance language is a romance language.
Famous tongues: Monica Bellucci, Alessandro Del Piero
Raw, unfiltered and as grabby to ears as its president is to rears, the Italian accent is a vowelgasm that reflects the spectrum of Italic experience: the fire of its bellicose beginnings … the romance of the Renaissance … the dysfunction of anything resembling a government since Caesar. Insatiable, predatory and possessive, this is sex as a second language.