I am French and I spent my days speaking English with people from various nations for the last 25 years.

I heard English spoken in many different ways, some were easy to understand, and some difficult. French pronunciation lays somewhere at the bottom, and I find Germans speaking English very understandable.

Vocabulary and grammar aside, are there "national accents" (with all disclaimers this brings) that are recognized to be "perfectly neutral" for English? In other words, are non-native speakers of English from a particular country recognized as being statistically the easiest to understand for other non-native speakers?

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    The question might be better suited for "English Language & Usage". I do like it being non-native English speaker myself. Just not sure it belongs to Linguistics.SE. – tum_ May 2 at 17:18
  • @tum_: I had that idea too, but ultimately chose Linguistics SE because EL&U SE is probably populated by mostly native English speakers. But sure, I am open to anything. – WoJ May 2 at 19:16
  • I agree, it's a bit of a grey area. The natives are not interested, and the linguists don't give a damn either :) – tum_ May 2 at 19:57
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    Are you talking just about phonetic factors or also about familiarity? Because (at least until recently, and I think still) English speakers round the world understand American accents (including some regional ones) better than Americans understand accents from elsewhere, but I think that is entirely due to asymmetrical exposure. – Colin Fine May 2 at 22:09
  • I think it depends massively on which non-native speakers you have in mind - what their L1 is and what model of English is (mainly) used in their education system. Very probably there will be a particular accent that is neutral for the greatest number of people, but it may be a long way from neutral for a large minority. – rchivers May 7 at 7:06

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