I noticed this most recently when I read Take A Chance on Me by Jill Mansell, which takes place in England. A couple of times something would come up that would remind me they were in England, and I realized I wasn't "hearing" the character's accents. And I realized, once I came around to liking the hero, that although I imagined him as good looking, he had a British accent,which raised him a few notches on the "sexy meter"....but I couldn't imagine the accent!!!
When I'm reading a book that takes place in another country,or that has foreign characters, I read them with American accents. I can't imagine the accent when I'm reading unless the accent is written in (which, ironically, drives me nuts!). What's up with that? I'm pretty sure it has to do with the fact that I can't do accents at all - it doesn't matter what country I try to imitate, the accent sounds exactly the same (and not at all like the accent of any known country on this earth!).
Does anyone else do this? Imagine the characters in a story speaking with an incorrect accent? Is it important in enjoying the story to imagine it right?
*Chris Rock - line from the movie Rush Hour 2