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View Poll Results: What do you think of this as an icebreaker when talking to someone new? (in original post)
very good 3 6.67%
its ok nothing more 21 46.67%
don't like it 21 46.67%
Voters: 45. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-01-2014, 12:53 AM
 
Location: New Zealand and Australia
7,458 posts, read 11,492,958 times
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You notice she or he has an accent and you proceed, to calculated guess where there accent is from. And any conversation that stems from that.

Personally I think its great. Interested if most others see it that way?
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Old 09-01-2014, 09:58 AM
 
Location: Greenbelt, MD
8,927 posts, read 6,461,232 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave nz View Post
You notice she or he has an accent and you proceed, to calculated guess where there accent is from. And any conversation that stems from that.

Personally I think its great. Interested if most others see it that way?
While out on my close to daily walk around a somewhat popular lake in my city, I was approached recently by two females with accent's. One was Russian the other Chinese. In both cases it wasn't brought up right away. The lady with the Chinese accent (she didn't look typical Chinese) was struggling with English a bit but it wasn't too bad. In that case it was brought up sooner than the other. We ended up going out to dinner recently and I had a nice time. She's way younger than I am so this is not likely to go anywhere.

Plenty of other things to discuss upon first meet. I voted "don't like it."
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Old 09-01-2014, 10:06 AM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,553 posts, read 33,271,692 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave nz View Post
You notice she or he has an accent and you proceed, to calculated guess where there accent is from. And any conversation that stems from that.

Personally I think its great. Interested if most others see it that way?
Depending on where you are it is a great way............to get five across the eyes. Bad idea.
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Old 09-01-2014, 10:10 AM
 
Location: Wisconsin
2,723 posts, read 1,679,695 times
Reputation: 8385
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave nz View Post
You notice she or he has an accent and you proceed, to calculated guess where there accent is from. And any conversation that stems from that.

Personally I think its great. Interested if most others see it that way?
I think it is extremely offputting to start by trying to guess where someone is from. Instead of making the other person feel at ease and as though you are interested in them as a person, it puts the spotlight on you as you do your "Aren't I smart?" parlor routine.

Here's a snapshot of how I picture this interaction:
You: "Hi, what an interesting accent. Do you mind if I try to guess where you are from?"
Them: "Um, okay." (Saying this, but thinking, "Please don't.")
You: "Germany!"
Them: "No."
You: "Wow, I could have sworn it was Germany. Okay, Switzerland."
Them: "No."
You: "Hmm, talk some more, it doesn't matter what you say, just say something so I can figure out where you are from. I'm super good at this."
Them: "I think I see an old friend across the room." (Walks away.)

Actual studies have shown that if a person is allowed to dominate the conversation, he or she will go away from that conversation thinking that the other person was fascinating and they both had a wonderful time. If you decide to go ahead with this plan, I predict you will find the other person routinely makes an excuse to get away from you as quickly as they can manage it. I know I would.
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Old 09-01-2014, 11:02 AM
 
Location: S.E. Louisiana
120 posts, read 88,860 times
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It's a "qualified" OK.

Interest in their accent is fine (but from their point of view probably pretty common and therefore mundane) but I wouldn't presume to guess their country of origin...I'd let them carry that part of the convo. And then do a lot of, "Oh wow! Really? Oh, that's sooooo cool !!!!!!!!"

The accent is the "icebreaker", there's a whole world of other subjects available to talk about (see what I did there?). You don't want to be just another person gushing over their accent, they hear that all the time. Find something that cuts across all nationalities to talk about, something universal, such as...................what would you like to drink?

So, tell us..................how did this approach work for you?
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Old 09-01-2014, 05:08 PM
 
18,264 posts, read 23,394,759 times
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brilliant, right up there with ...guess her weight, guess her age , or congratulate her on "expecting" (and she may not be pregnant)

some things are better off ....left unsaid

I did this a couple times,,,and I guessed wrong on an English/aussie accent,,,they get a bit offended by it
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Old 09-04-2014, 11:03 AM
 
Location: Colorado
11,607 posts, read 7,188,754 times
Reputation: 20919
I voted "OK" because it was the closest I could get to "it depends."

In a situation where you are VERY certain of their accent, especially if you have been there or are close to someone who is from there and have something of actual interest to say about the place, you could excitedly use it as a launch into a conversation that might be of great mutual interest. You may have walked the same streets or seen the same places.

If you can do it without coming off too weird, and you don't know the accent's origin, you could say something like, "I'm sorry, do you mind me asking where you are from? You have the most interesting accent!" But you had better be a good judge of nonverbal clues. If you make someone uncomfortable with this, be ready to back off and respect some space. The important thing is to present yourself as friendly in a nonthreatening sort of way and then gauge the response from nonverbal behavior. In which case the "icebreaker" is largely irrelevant, it's simply putting yourself carefully out there as a conversational contact to be accepted or shut down. Bear in mind that I imagine myself in the position of trying to "break ice" and I'm a petite female. So when I say "nonthreatening" or whatever, there is no assumption as to the nature or motives of the speaker...aside from simple attempts at friendly conversation.

I would never put a specific guess out there as to the origin of an accent, unless I was VERY certain that I was right. It isn't territory that I'd just happily blunder into.
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Old 09-04-2014, 11:18 AM
Status: "Things change. Can I?" (set 18 days ago)
 
Location: in the miseries
3,302 posts, read 3,562,663 times
Reputation: 3810
Bad idea right off the bat.
Maybe after you know them a little better.
Asking directions( from a distance so as not to intimidate) might be better.
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Old 09-04-2014, 11:56 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
1,351 posts, read 1,272,625 times
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It's a bit too forward to take that approach to a complete stranger, OP. Too personal too quickly, and there is a risk you will come across as offensive even if you guess right. That opener also seems rather pretentious. Just open up with a hello and maybe a light joke or witty comment about the venue/environment, or ask about an item in her shopping cart, or whatever. Start impersonal and let the other person (and yourself) naturally reveal personal details at his or her own pace and in an appropriate context as you get to know each other over time.

Most well-adjusted people learn this as part of their upbringing. It's basic social graces.
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Old 09-04-2014, 12:33 PM
 
13,675 posts, read 13,477,979 times
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I'm gonna vote a big no. It's not an icebreaker.

Now, if I'm in a good conversation with them, I might ask them "Where are you from originally?" at some point. But my thought is it's best to start off with lighter questions. Moreover, I think you are just highlighting how someone is different or stands out rather early on in the conversation when really you should be making them feel like they blend.
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