WATCH: The Scientific Reason Why Your Accent Gets Stronger When You Drink
So that’s why we start sounding like mama after a couple cocktails!
If you notice that your drawl gets a little thicker and you start dropping “y’all” more after you’ve enjoyed a few adult beverages, you’re not alone.
According to Amee Shah, an associate professor in health science at Stockton University, a big reason why you might be upping the drawl and cranking up the twang when you’re drinking alcohol has to do with two very important cognitive areas of your brain.
“In the short term, the prefrontal cortex and frontal cortex are targeted [when you’re drinking]―areas that not only monitor attention and memory but also precise motor movements and the ability to plan what we’re saying,” Shah explained to HuffPost.
Having those cognitive checks and balances turned off, so to speak, results in a physiological loss of inhibition, leading to less concentration on your speech, and sooner or later you sound like your mama.
As Edward J. Damrose, an associate professor of otolaryngology at Stanford University, pointed out to HuffPost, actively controlling an accent takes a lot of brainpower. Under the influence of alcohol, that concentration will understandably diminish.
“This is not different from other things we experience, like if you’re really tired, coming out of sleep, fatigued or sick—all of that is putting the brain in a more relaxed state,” Shah continued.” It takes away some of that effort and planning for people speaking in an accent that’s not natural to us.”
You might also find yourself picking up friends’ accents when you’re drinking—a phenomenon Shah is more common in women.
“Yes, it does depend on the individual and their linguistic adaptability, mimicry ability, and level of empathy,” Shah said. “Some people are better at this than others, like women. The complete inability to be moved or influenced by accents around one can indicate disinterest, or worse, social privilege. Others are also more likely to be picked up, but often just as a stereotype, like southern, Italian and Indian.”
But that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind in the hopes of miraculously picking up an exotic accent. “To put it colloquially, it’s more likely to show in someone who’s had two glasses of wine than four,” Shah told HuffPost. “After four, well, everything is a mess.”