Why We Think British People Are Smarter Than the Rest of Us Wankers

It’s actually not the accent at all — it’s what they’re saying with that gorgeous accent that makes us believe they’re the most intelligent creatures of all
Why We Think British People Are Smarter Than the Rest of Us Wankers

Maybe it’s their accent, manners or tea-drinking tendencies, but there’s something about British people that makes them seem smarter than they are. And now, researchers from Rutgers University have pinpointed exactly why that’s the case — it’s the way they use the word “right” in conversation. 

The researchers determined that while both Americans and Brits use “right” as an “information receipt,” these receipts are read differently depending on the culture. After reviewing 125 conversations in British English and American English from the 1970s through today, they found that responding with “right” means you’re already knowledgeable about what’s being discussed if you’re American. But for British people, “right” is used to convey that the person is gathering information. 

Thus, when British people say “right” to an American, it makes them appear more knowledgeable because they’re speaking a different language. The study authors note that the following miscommunication initially inspired the study. Reading like a linguistic rendition of “Who’s on First?,” it’s also a good example of what they’re talking about: 

This, on top of a sophisticated-sounding accent, makes British people seem smarter, when there’s little data to back up that claim and even some evidence that Americans have a slight edge in intelligence. Either way, the new research “sheds light on how minute linguistic differences, which we might not even recognize, impact our interactions with others and color our perceptions of their expertise and knowledge,” the study authors explained. “(The) findings also demonstrate the payoffs of using the methods of conversation analysis for understanding intercultural communication processes and for learning about different varieties of English and other languages.”

But again, rest assured that our pals across the pond are probably just as big of dumbasses as we are.

Right? Right.

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