Choosing an accent

When you learn a language, do you choose your accent, or does your accent choose you? Perhaps you are learning in a rural place and get used to the local accents because you talk to the locals. In this case, do you insist on training yourself to use a ‘standard’ form of speech? Obviously, regional words and phrases may make you easier to understand for locals and more difficult for others, but if you were as comprehensible as other regional speakers, would you mind having an accent?

When learning Chinese, would you go with southern pronunciation, or the Beijing accent which has pronounced arrrrs, like a pirate? For Spanish, would you learn Mexican Spanish or Catalan? For English, American or British? And would you specify even further?

One of my favourite waiters is a Chinese guy who speaks in a faux Cockney accent. He not only puts on the strong accent, but uses a lot of slang, too. He is very proud of the fact that he has English friends and has a believable accent. He gets better every time I see him, and there’s nothing like having a Chinese guy call you geezer and tell you that the nosh is pukka!

Do you worry about your accent, or do you just focus on knowing the words to use?