There’s the “Older Man Effect,” the “Hairy Men Effect” and the “Hebrew Effect” and now we give you the “Foreign Factor.” Men and women who speak more than one language have a certain skill that makes them innately more attractive. For Americans especially, it doesn’t even need to be another language, merely an accent that makes them sexier (think Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy).
The minute they open their mouths, multilingual individuals possess an instant swagger that sends our simple, mortal heads spinning. It’s like how Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman can’t get enough of their Parisian hubbies’ chateaux foreign tongue and romance.
Or how Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem aren't messing around when it comes to preserving their smoldering Spanish charm. Or even how our favorite tween spazz, Lizzie McGuire, was beguiled by the Italian of Paolo Valisari. Classic.
The exotic appeal of language is something we can’t say no to. Maybe it’s because speaking two dialects automatically gives a person a leg up -- an edge or advantage. Or maybe it’s because we believe multilingualism promises more. More international flights and new sights. More interest in politics abroad. More knowledge about unfamiliar subjects.
We are beholden to this idea that life could be as mysteriously puzzling as the words coming out of our lover’s mouth. And, perhaps if you marry Ozzy Osbourne, it could be.
His rolling r’s will send you rolling head over heels. Here’s why we want to jump the bones of multilingual and/or accented people way more than anyone else.
1. They sound smarter
Hypothetically speaking, in a regional-cuisine restaurant (i.e. Italian, Chinese, Kosher deli) when two people give their opinion of the food, whose will you trust? The bilingual guy who's native to the area or the guy who grew up on Chef Boyardee?
Even if the closest the bilingual guy got to Italy was South Jersey, we’re still likely to believe him because speaking a foreign language makes you sound smarter. And in some respects, you really are cognitively advanced in order to learn a second language.
And what about when a Brit reads literature versus someone like Adam Sandler? You can bet it sounds like Shakespeare compared to his butchered vernacular.
2. They are more passionate
The romance languages in particular are much more sensual and expressive than impersonal and rougher tongues. Other languages have a natural lilt to them. People who speak more than one are able to articulate themselves much more poetically and gracefully depending on their dialect of choice. This passion translates into other areas as well…
3. They can say anything
Seriously, they can say the most messed up stuff and you would have no idea. Or they can talk super, super dirty and you wouldn’t feel the slightest bit weird about it. You’d probably like it, in fact, just like everything else that they do with their mouths.
In college, I had a one-way obsession with an older exchange student from Lisbon (I know, I’m sooo basic). He was a member of one of the multicultural comedy groups and so, being a white female, I logically tried auditioning to join.
It was only until my friend (who was there for laugh-track support) informed me he was telling me to “stay away, crazy b*tch” from the crowd in Portuguese that I realized this wasn’t going to work out. It’s not my fault he, like, wasn’t ready for a real woman, or whatever.
Regardless, I fully believe every time I ran into him after that (read: the exchange bars), he was apologizing.
4. They teach you something new
Whether it’s an easy word or phrase, fun fact about the home country or local cuisine, a person who speaks more than one language has insight into a completely different culture. These people share traditions and expand your cultural repertoire. It’s exciting to partake in unfamiliar customs and learn about worldly lifestyles especially when your partner can be your tour guide.
5. Your offspring will be more attractive
The evidence is there. Not to mention bilingual babies are all the rage these days. Quick, hire that imported nanny!
6. When they speak your language, it sounds more appealing
Every English word sounds better when it’s delivered with an accent. The interpretation is somehow dreamier and different due to the speaker’s mispronounced emphasis. Maybe if Sofia Vergara were the Speaker of the House, we’d all get along better. Or at least wear more corsets.
7. They enjoy traveling
The best part about dating a dude with a visa (and a Visa) is his willingness to visit his home country as well as other international cities. He’s already got a passport and a cosmopolitan attitude, why not join him in his escapades? Here’s one time when we’ll let him do the talking.
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