Apparently, sex columns have been invading college newspapers all over the country. Little Carrie Bradshaw and Sex and the City fans are infiltrating good news space. The trend has caught the eye of journalists from national news sources who are just baffled by the popularity of columns like this one.
A little over a week ago, a gal from USA Today actually asked me this question: “So why do you think these sex columns have become so popular? Why are so many college newspapers now including them in opinion sections?”
Obviously somebody hadn’t gotten laid in awhile. No amount of LSAT preparation could have had me ready to answer such a daunting question. Could it be because we love sex? No, surely not. Sex never sells. I never claimed to be a Ph.D. in human sexology, but obviously people from I.V. to Westmont are reading it.
And apparently grad students are paying attention too. Talk about constructive comments on my last midterm. They went something like this: “85%. I enjoy reading your column. Nice to know I’m on the right track.”
I decided to approach the TA to joke with him about his policy of ‘grading blindly.’ He said “something, something, something, celebrity,” but it was in a British accent. (I caught the celebrity part. I could get used to that.)
Oh man. On the right track indeed. Forget the common American stereotype of the Brit’s bad dental habits; their sexy accents make up for it all. I mean, wasn’t Gwyneth so much more sensual as a Brit? Would Bridget Jones seem half as endearing as an American?
Maybe my affinity for a good British accent stems from my love of British rock bands. I know Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones were never too heavy on the accents when singing, but you know it’s there. So this got me thinking, why do we find accents so attractive?
After a little research, I came to linguistlist.org (from East Michigan University), where someone from UCLA had posed the same question. Indeed, my rock band hypothesis was correct (sort of). Most often, folks recognize the origin of the accent they are listening to and have preconceived ideas about that culture. So rather than the sound being attractive or unattractive, it is the attitude towards the culture from which the accent originates that emits emotions one way or the other.
For example, I never thought of a German accent as particularly sexy. Linguistlist.org says this might be because of the common American conception – over 50 years since the ends of WWII – that Germans are either militaristic or harsh. But then again, I think it could be because sometimes it sounds like they’re going to cough up a hairball. Not exactly what I’d call je ne sais pas.
Even languages which we have no conventionalized attitudes about might sound like others that we do. Or it might also have to do with personal events in your life that lead you to find one language more attractive than another.
For instance, I liked this guy freshman year that lived on my floor in FT. He was mostly Portuguese and spoke to his family in Portuguese. I thought it was downright panty wetting. After he screwed around with his ex-girlfriend while we were seeing each other, I felt like puking anytime I heard anything that sounded remotely like Portuguese.
Most people find at least a few accents damn sexy. It seems that foreigners are often initially more attractive than someone obviously from the same place as you. Being an equal opportunity linguist, I know the mystique usually wears off over time and often, familiarity beats a good accent. There’s nothing like talkin’ to your average Joe Surfer from Redondo Beach. And there’s nothing wrong with a little role-playing and calling him Pierre every once in awhile.
Still, God bless foreign exchange students. And lets hope the sun doesn’t set on that sexy British accent anytime soon.
Daily Nexus sex columnist Beth Van Dyke speaks the language of love with a raunchy accent.