It’s more important than you might think, sociologically, to get an accent right. Humans are social animals, after all, and having the right accent says you’re one of the gang. This is why xenophobes get so bent out of shape over immigrants’ speech. It’s also why we judge people who seem to be performing their accent, such as politicians who suddenly develop a folksy twang or celebrities who affect posh European mannerisms.
When we develop our first accents (usually by imprinting on our earliest caregivers), we’re trying to fit in as a matter of group identification, and it’s truly not unusual for this to change over time depending on whom we’re with. “There is a general tendency in language to approximate the localities or the social networks that you want to be a part of,” Dr. Tagliamonte says, “and if those social networks are diverse and you pick and choose from the various different ones, your performative accent, the one you use when you’re in an interview or when you’re not with your friends and family, may very well be a mix.”
Refinery29, Nov. 3, 2016