People from different parts of the world speak differently, even when they are speaking the same language. Accents can also arise from some disabilities and subcultures, even within the same region.
Everyone has an accent, but some people perceive themselves as not having an accent. Some people have strong reactions to other people’s accents, and end up making asses of themselves. Here’s some advice on how to avoid doing that:
The first rule of politeness with regards accents is that you ought not to comment on them. An accent is part of someone’s body. It’s rude and invasive to make personal comments about someone else’s body, because bodies are private. For instance, if you’re in a situation where it would be rude to tell a woman that her hair makes her look hot, don’t tell her she has a cute accent.
Do not offer your unsolicited opinions about the place you perceive the person to be from. For instance, do not commiserate with a person you just met about Southern bigotry based on their accent. Do not tell someone with a British accent all about how much better you think their health care system is than yours. Do not initiate a conversation about their political views about a war their country is fighting. Talk about what the conversation is actually about; treat them like a person and not as their region embodied.
Do not express skepticism about where someone is from based on the way they speak. It’s disrespectful. They know where they came from; you, as a person who just met them, are not a greater authority on this. And you won’t be the first one to have expressed this skepticism. You might not even be the first one that day. It gets old fast.
Also, some people with disabilities pass as non-disabled in order to protect themselves, but speak somewhat oddly and are perceived as having foreign accents. Questioning someone in that situation at length about why they talk like that and where they’re really from can be frightening. People who pass do it *for reasons*, because being identifiably disabled can expose people to horrifying discrimination.
Some people with more obvious disabilities, and unmistakable disability accents, get ignored because other people assume that they are impossible to understand, or that they don’t have anything worthwhile to say. Do not do this. Make the effort to listen, and you’ll probably find that it’s not so hard once you’ve stopped thinking of it as optional (unless you have a significant receptive language disability, but most people who think of disability accents as incomprehensible don’t.) Do not treat this as a favor you are doing someone. Treat it as a matter of basic respect. It is not ok to decide that a whole category of people get ignored because you can’t be bothered to listen.
People often make it impossible for others to communicate by listening to their accents and ignoring their words. Do not be that guy. Listen to content, take people seriously, and don’t fetishize accents.