AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle

"Jor-El has failed to convince everyone that Krypton is about to blow up, probably because he’s not pronouncing the name of the planet right. I wouldn’t trust anyone who told me that there was about to be an 'Arthquake' either."
Chris Sims on Superman (1978)

Whether intentional or unintentional, this is when a character is placing the emphasis on the wrong syllable of a word.

In song lyrics, it's usually because the song was done by some foreigner who hasn't quite grasped the rules of stress in their second language, but sometimes they're just being completely incompetent about setting lyrics to music. This can lead to Mondegreens if the wrong syllable is too jarring. It can, however, be done even by native speakers for purposes of metre.

Sometimes, this is done in dubs when the lips are clearly visible.

In this trope's own name, to take an obvious example, the accent in the very word 'accent' varies largely depending which country you're from: British use tends to favour AKS-nt, whereas US use, for instance, would be more AK-SENT. By comparison, both usually stress the second syllable in 'accentuate' (ak-SEN-tchoo-ate), which shows how variable the language can be.

See also It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY and No Pronunciation Guide.

INtentionAL EXamples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Detective Conan, Jodie Starling uses this as a form of Obfuscating Stupidity. Naturally, Hattori calls her out on it right off the bat.
  • The English version of Ponyo's ending theme:
    Ponyo, Ponyo, Ponyo, she's a little fish
    She's a little fish from the deep blue sea
    Ponyo, Ponyo, Ponyo, she's a little girl
    She's a little girl with a round tum-MY.
  • "Alsatia", the opening theme from Mnemosyne: "It's Alsay-SHEE-a!"
  • The Code Geass picture drama Miraculous Birthday has a funny gag where Lelouch incorrectly teaches the student council to say "Yes, your ma-JEST-y" repeatedly.
  • In the original Japanese version of Digimon Adventure 02, the Chosen Children owned power-ups for their Digimon called Digimentals. When these were activated, they shouted, "Digimental UUUUP!", which, though a little hammy, is nevertheless an aversion of this trope. Come the infamous English Dub, and for some reason or another it was decided to change this call to "Digi-armour ENERGISE!". Due to the lip-flaps, however, the syllable of this shout that was stretched out was the "er" in "energise". The result was "Digi-armour enEEEEEEEEERgise!"
  • Pedro and his family speak like this in the Japanese version of Excel Saga. This may be part of the attempt to play the characters in an exaggerated Spanish/South American accent.
  • When the anime Card Captor Sakura was translated for some foreign audiences, such as North American, Brazilian, and Israeli, "SAH-Koo-Ra" was changed to "Sah-KOO-Ra".
  • The English dub of Naruto does this often. Perhaps the most immediate example is KA-ka-shi, who in the dub gives his name as Ka-KA-shi.
    • This happens other time, like with the Rinnegan. The pronunciation is "Ren-Ay-Gan", the dub pronounces it "Ren-E-Gan", like one would pronounce "Renegade" in English. And don't get me started on the Australian dub opening of the original Naruto. Sah-soo-kay, right.....
  • The English dub of CLANNAD suffers from this. For example, Nagisa is pronounced "Na-GEE-sa" in the dub but "NA-gee-sa" in the original Japanese.

  • Emo Phillips sometimes employs this as part of his stage persona.
  • Eddie Izzard used this to illustrate how awkward it is when Robin Hoods have American accents. "Where is the Maid MarEYEan? And the Sheriff of NottingHAM? I live in SherWOOD ForEST!"
  • Mitch Hedberg liked to stress the second part of a compound noun. "... sounded an awful lot like car HORNS"; "you are never blocking a fire EXIT".

    Fan Fiction 
  • Boy Scouts ½: When talking about his secret underground laboratory, Kenny is quite insistent that it is his Laborstory. When Kenny gets his own Spin-Off, he gets an arch nemesis named Professor Snarfinkle who speaks with a very strange (and completely affected) accent that is this trope dialed up to 11.
  • Bumblebee in Transformers Meta[1].
    Bumblebee:Ratchet says bots look into Grimlock's eyes and see a scary monster. But all I see is my best friend. I think Ratchet needs those glass-says things!

  • In "Manos" The Hands of Fate, the character Torgo speaks with an awkward rhythm that sometimes makes him sound like he's stressing the wrong syllables. The intention may have been to give him a voice that sounds like the bleating of a goat, because he was supposed to be a satyr.
  • Martin Short's wedding planner character in Father Of The Bride, by way of his generically foreign accent.
  • The otherwise-forgettable film View From The Top has Mike Myers saying the trope name after another flight attendant mispronounces the word "assess". link
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail has the Knights of the Round Table, whose shows are formidAYble, but many times they're given rhymes that are quite unsingAYble.
  • The Thermians in Galaxy Quest. Nice guys, but really lousy at acting human.
  • In Megamind, the titular Card-Carrying Villain's pronunciation of "Metro City" as "MeTROcity" (rhymes with "atrocity") becomes an important plot point. He also has trouble pronouncing a few other words, such as "school" and "hello."
  • In Ghostbusters II, Janosz's silly accent occasionally involves stressing the wrong syllable.
  • In The Beatles movie Help!, the cult members pronounce Beatle as "be-AT-tull" (rhyming with "Seattle").
  • In The Thin Man movies they keep referring to the people who might have done as the "susPECTS".
  • Maybe not an intended example, but a number of dwarf-names in The Hobbit movie are accentuated wrong. Tolkien himself was a scholar in old Germanic languages, and accented the names in the book after Norse fashion: Dáin, Thráin, and so on. The movie omits all accents, so the intended pronunciation on two syllables (Dá-in) is dropped, so the name Dáin sounds like "dane", and Thráin like "Train". As the accents are dropped from the entire movie franchise, it seems the movie makers try to justify this error.
    • Also Dol GulDUR. Not. It's a Sindarin (Gray-Elvish) name meaning "the Hill of Sorcery" and it should be pronounced DOL GULdur.
  • A Christmas Story: The arrival of the infamous lamp.
    The Old Man: Aahhh, "Fra-GIL-ay!" It must be Italian!
  • Alice in Wonderland: "SerPEEEEEENT!!!"
  • Jackass the Movie's "Sweaty FAT Fucks!" segment.
  • Bill & Ted: The titular heroes mispronounce the names of the foreign historical figures they've gathered, such as "Sigmund Frood", "So-Crates" and "Beeth-oven".
  • The various agents in The Matrix all speak with unnaturally good enunciation and with a complete lack of inflection or pauses between phrases. It drives home the fact that they are computer programs running AI text-to-speech programs. Smith, after he becomes unshackled from the Machines gains a slightly more natural speech pattern to symbolize his independence but he never completely shakes off the Machine-speak.

  • In Damon Knight's science fiction story "You're Another," there's a man in the year 4000 or so whose native language is Esperanto (though not named). When he speaks English, he has a thick Esperanto accent, and stresses the penultimate syllable of every word, just as in Esperanto. (E.g., "Now you will give me d'instrument.")
  • In Alan Dean Foster's Glory Lane, an alien in disguise on Earth is described as talking like this trope, stressing the wrong syllables and words, due to having learned English from a cheap crash course.
  • Don't try to pronounce the surname of Hogfather antagonist Jonathan Teatime the way it looks (the correct pronunciation is 'Teh-ah-tim-eh'); people getting it wrong irritates him. Surprisingly enough for a psychotic assassin, he just asks them to get it right.
    • Though the book does not clearly show which syllables should be stressed, in The Movie, he says it 'TEH-ah-TEEM-eh'.
      • Actually Marc Warren, the actor playing Mr Teatime, pronounces it somewhat differently each time he says it ("TAY-a-TOR-mie" in the Tooth Fairy's castle being a particularly weird example). This may be a subtle joke on the fact that nobody pronounces it properly, or just sloppy continuity.
  • This is how Jaina Solo and Lando Calrissian realize that a robot is impersonating Lando and giving his droids orders in the Star Wars Expanded Universe book "Vortex" in the Fate of the Jedi series.
  • In Heretics of Dune, more than a few people are taken aback by the accent of the people from the scattering, described as being extremely guttural with harsh clipped off consonants and an odd emphasis on adjacent vowels. Even Reverend Mothers, people who by their very nature know and understand almost every human language that has ever existed, find it bizarre to listen to.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Workaholics, Karl mangles the word 'chaos' as 'cha-hose'.
  • Doctor Who:
    • A surprisingly eerie example from Doctor Who is with the Mondasian Cybermen in "The Tenth Planet".
    • A significantly less eerie example from Doctor Who is with the Menoptera in "The Web Planet". In their case, it makes their voices sound soothing.
  • On Community, Pierce routinely mispronounces Abed's name as "Ay-bed".
  • On an episode of Red Dwarf, Rimmer asks Lister not to pronounce his name the way he does. Lister asks if he should call him "RimMAIR".
  • The English Course skit from The Sketch Show features a man with this problem. He's a speech theRApistT.
  • In The Middleman, it's how Tyler knows the "job interview" he's at is actually a test, and the board is fake: the head of the board keeps pronouncing Manservant Neville's name the way you'd assume it was pronounced. It's not — it's "MONserVENT NeVULE".
  • Reid on Criminal Minds occasionally puts a weird emphasis on a weird syllable when he speaks — he says the word "theater," for example, as "thee-AY-ter", every single time. That probably has less to do with getting it wrong and more to do with being raised by an English professor and hanging onto antiquated pronunciations that everyone else doesn't bother with anymore or it could be pronunciation was a Nevada/Jello Belt thing.
  • Captain Sisko from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine does this, although it at least stays plausible throughout.
    • Michael Dorn also once said in an interview that he did this when playing Worf so he would have a distinct speech pattern from the rest of the (mostly human or Human Alien) crew.
    • Worf's ho-NORR, va-LORR pronunciation of "honour" and "valour" echoes Spock in the original series, who did exactly the same.
    • The Ferengi pronounce "human" as "hew-mon". Quark does this the most.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, Peter Weller played a terrorist who threatened to release a virus if a global video conference involving every nation's capital on Earth was not cancelled. His right hand man told him "there are no plans to halt the summit in Can-BERRA or Berlin". The writer having known that Canberra exists and is the capital of Australia is more than Canberrans have come to expect, but it's pronounced CAN-bra, with the last vowel cut off to sound like a hard "u".
  • In many American movies, American actors pronounce Melbourne, the Victorian capital city, as melbORNE instead of MELBen (or - more accurately - MALBen) as used by the locals. Her Majesty the Queen also used to do this, using the traditional pronunciation of the English title, but has in recent years adopted the 'correct' pronunciation when referring to the Victorian city.
  • One episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation has Q meddling in on Captain Picard's shoreleave. Being the trickster that he is, he dresses up as a message courier and plays this trope just to annoy him.
    I have a package for a... Jeen Luck... Pikerd?
  • Friends
    • Subverted; Ross does try to say the word "karate" with the right Japanese intonation (putting more stress into "te" instead of the Western habit of stressing "ra"), but the way he says it just makes the word seem weird.
    • In a later episode, Ross finds that he tends to slip into a stereotypical English accent during his new job of lecturing at a college, as a result of nerves. Mid-lecture, under the assumption that he wasn't being listened to anyway, he attempts to reassert his normal accent, but finds that he starts slipping in and out, resulting in the placement of emphasis on strange parts of words, such as saying "IdentiFY'".
    • Chandler has a habit of emphasizing the word "be", which occasionally joked upon by the others.
  • A sketch on The Day Today features a spoof advert for a documentary about the footballer John Fashanu, which consists solely of a man saying "John FA-shanu" in a sinister voice for 15 seconds... immediately followed by the presenter announcing "That's John Fa-SHA-nu, tonight on BBC 2".
  • A common quirk of the narrator of the Brazilian comedy show Pânico na TV.
  • A Saturday Night Live skit with Alec Baldwin was a play off of soap operas when a scene is done live and the actors have to read off the teleprompters. Baldwin's character, a doctor, was constantly mispronouncing words, leading to the memorable "Quick nurse! There appears to be something caught in his eso-phagus."
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus
    • "What if someone attacks you with a poin-TED stick?" "SHUT UP!"
    • Monty Python's Flying CirCUSSSSSSS
  • In The IT Crowd, Moss recommends a restaurant he calls "Meh-SEE-joze" (making it sound French or Spanish) when its name is clearly "Messy Joe's." Moss insisting on saying "TAY-pass" is another example.
  • The Legend Of William Tell: Depending on who's saying it under what circumstance, Drogo is either DRO-go or DROG-o. He himself pronounces it DROG-o, but he doesn't object to either pronunciation.

  • Alanis Morissette. And how!
  • Bad Religion: Lots. A few examples from "Parallel": "Phony COLLective progess, ACCepting that it's all such a mess", and in the background, "our lives are paralLEL"... later, "watching as our FOUNdations crumble away"
  • R. Kelly's Trapped In The Closet.
  • Sir William Gilbert loved to invoke this trope, taking it to deliberately ridiculous lengths.
  • The somewhat obscure Trope Namer, "Sing a Tropical Song," was written for the 1943 movie musical Happy Go Lucky. The Andrews Sisters also recorded it. "Rum and CoCAAA-Cola"
  • Almost every song ever performed by Coheed and Cambria. You could practically make a drinking game based upon how many times Claudio Sanchez stretches the simple word "I" into nearly two syllables ("Eeeyiii...")
  • Chuck Mosley, early singer of Faith No More often did this with his rapping to fit sometimes awkward rhythms, a good example being "R 'N' R". 10 years later, the band wrote the song "Mouth To Mouth" in this style so that Mike Patton could imitate Chuck's style for it. Naturally, Patton managed to make it even more hammy than Chuck would have done.
  • The majority of Stereolab songs do this. Laetitia Sadier's lyrics are mostly very political, and with a much heavier focus on content and message than in meter and prosody. Notorious examples include "Perversion" and "Metronomic Underground".
  • There are several examples of this in Manic Street Preachers' album The Holy Bible. The reason for this is that the lyricist, Richey James Edwards, tended to write his lyrics in a sort of free-form stream of consciousness style. As a result, James Dean Bradfield (who wrote the music) had to try and force lines into musical passages that did not quite match up. As a result, Bradfield often pronounced words in odd ways, including accentuating the wrong syllable. There are also examples from their other work, such as "They call me Mr hy-PO-chon-DRI-a" (Mr Carbohydrate), "We need and will always need/Another invented DIS-ease" (Another Invented Disease), and "Is it about the pol-UH-tics of celebrity" (Socialist Serenade).
    • James also is fond of adding extra syllables for instance: "Natwest! Natwest-Barclays-Midlands-Loy-hoyds!" (Natwest-Barclays-Midlands-Lloyds), "A design! For-her life" (A Design For Life) "We are not ready for drow-how-ning" (Ready For Drowning).
    • Catatonia, another Welsh band, also did the "extra syllable" part: Singer Cerys Matthews pronounced "endlessly" as "End-uh-less-ly" in every instance of its use on their single "Londinium".
  • The Bangles' song "Walk Like an Egyptian" has several instances where the pronunciation is strange either to rhyme, or to make them fit with the cadence, such as the lines "All the school kids so sick of books / They like the punk and the metal band / When the buzzer rings (oh whey oh) / They're walking like an Egyptian" where the last word is pronounced "eee-gyp-tee-an" instead of the usual "e-gyp-tian." One would normally expect the word "Egyptian" to land on a strong accent, as "E-gyp-tian". In this case, it falls across the accent, as "AN e-GYP-TI-an", both placing the accent in an unexpected place and dividing the final syllable into two.
  • KT Tunstall's "Another Place To Fall"—"see yourself as a fallen anGEL". Tunstall again, "Other Side of the World"—"Most of every day/Is filled with tired excuSES". Also done by the Blue Oyster Cult in Fallen Angel.
  • "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac. "When the rain waSHES you clean you'll know."
  • The Korpiklaani song "Keep on Galloping" has an English chorus in which the singer puts emphasis in the wrong places to match the beat. For example, instead of saying "Gallop-ing," he's say "Ga-lo-ping."
    • "Here comes the wo-ma-NAY-zer!"
    • This is usually the case with European polysyllablic languages everywhere, not just English. Korpiklaani is a Finnish band, and it is not unusual for Finnish singers to stress syllables as they would be in Finnish instead of English.
  • A certain Spanish language ballad (circa 1997? by Rocio Durcal?) has a verse ending with a phrase to the effect that her tears are stuck in her throat. In Spanish, that's "garganta". There's nothing unusual about the way the word itself is accented, but it's unusual to hear such an unattractive-sounding word placed in full prominence at the climactic point of a musical phrase and backed with lush orchestration, rather than buried in an inconspicuous part of the verse. Steely Dan are noted for this, placing unexpected phrases like "zombie" and "The Eagles" at prominent parts of a phrase for surprise effect.
  • Sabaton of all bands manages to combine this with Trolling Creator with their track "A Secret", which warns the listeneer that an illegal download has been detected and that it is executed spyware protocol six hundred sixty-six. Yes, it speaks the number aloud in proper word form, but the computerized voice messes with the stress pattern, so it can be extremely difficult to understand what is being said.
  • "Pretty Vacant" by Sex Pistols has the latter word pronounced "VaCANT", making it sound like the word "cunt".
  • In "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", Gordon Lightfoot pronounces "Detroit" with three syllables—"De-troy-it". Native Detroiters usually pronounce it "da-TROYT." The last "t" is really more of a glottal stop than anything.
    • This is the standard Canadian pronunciation of "Detroit" and not Lightfoot's invention.
  • Enter Shikari normally avoid this trope, but "Gap In The Fence" has a particularly extreme example.
    "Yes GRANted we PROSper, but the FACT that we PROSper... is Even TAken FOR granTEEEEEEEEE-duh."
    • Yes, they did indeed add a whole new syllable to the word granted.
  • MC Frontalot's Charisma Potion lampshades this in a small skit at the end
    Front's DM: Damien, are you saying Attribute, or Attribute?
    Front: Attribute, obviously.
    Front's DM: 'Cause it kind of comes off like "attribiute". If you were saying "attribute", then it would be a verb.
    Front: The words do whatever I tell them to.
  • Majela Zeze Diamond doesn't seem to care very much about getting her accents on the right syllable. Example (spoilered out for NSFW): Wet AND jui-CY sweet VA-gi-NA
  • The Beatles
    • "Michelle"
    • Verse three of I'm A Loser has the line "And so it's true pride comes BE-fore a fall."
  • In Suede's "Hit Me": "Come on and hit me / with your ma-JES-ty..."
  • Several times in "Song 2" by blur.
    By a JumBO jet
    • And later in the chorus:
    Well I feel heaVY meTAL
    And I'm pins and I'm needles
  • Andy Gibb: The chorus to Sha-DOW Dan-CING!!!
  • Rhapsody of Fire's "Sea of Fate" practically runs on this trope.
    FragMENTS of torTURED
    ExistENCE reVEALing cold WHISpers
  • From the Pussycat Dolls' "When I Grow Up":
    "We all want to be fay-MUSS!"
  • "Genius Of Love" by the Tom Tom Club. "No one can sing / Quite like Smokey, Smokey Ro-BIN-son."
  • As you might expect, this trope (along with mispronunciations galore) features in the song "Bad English" by Québécois comedian François Pérusse.
  • Pink Floyd's The Wall has a few, most notably "Another Brick in the Wall Pt.2" ("No dark sar-CAS-um") and "Hey You".
  • Foo Fighters' "These Days": "Your heart has never been bro-KEHN" (specially as the word which it rhymes to, "stolen", is pronounced normally)
  • XTC’s Andy Partridge has been known to include this in some of his songs (“’Bout the baby and its um-bi-LA-cal”).
  • Verse two of Tim Curry's I Do The Rock has the line "Einstein's celebrating ten de-CADES but I'm afraid philoso-PHY is just too much responsibility for me."
  • Katy B's "Broken Record": "You're like a broken rec-ORD".
  • Katy Perry's "Un-CON-di-TION-ally".
  • Invoked by Eminem on the leaked track Syllables.
    Eminem: We gotta put some new emPHASis on our sylLYLEables!
  • Panic! at the Disco's "Build God, Then We'll Talk" has the line "Oh, what a wonderful ca-RIC-ature of intimacy".

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Pearls Before Swine, Pig mispronounces "atlas" as "atLAS" in order to make a really bad Pun.
  • Many characters in Pogo do this.

  • On My Music, one of the panelists once described "Michelle" by The Beatles as "one of those songs that has the emPHASis on the sylLAble".
  • On TAPS Para-radio, hosts Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson would challenge Dave Tango to a word game where he is tasked with pronouncing an obscure multisyllabic word correctly. Dave would often fail and in one episode, Grant complained that Dave put the "emPHASis on the wrong sylLAble",

  • In the second act of Richard Wagner's Meistersinger, Sachs strikes his cobbler's hammer each time Beckmesser does this in his serenade, Den Tag seh' ich erscheinen.
  • In the musical 1776, Richard Henry Lee emphasizes the "-ly" at the end of every adverb he uses in both dialogue and song as a tribute to his prominent fami-Lee.
  • Several times in A Very Potter Musical dialogue:
    "Come on, let's go watch Wizards of Waverly Place."

    Video Games 
  • In ADOM, Chaos cultists' mIxEd cAsE dIaLoGuE is probably intended to represent this.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, President Deling's body double talks like this. Given what he transforms into after you kill him, it's not surprising. Final Fantasy IV also does this to the Dark Elf in the Advance remake.
  • The G-Man from the Half-Life series speaks like this, along with speeding up and slowing down randomly and a bit of Vader Breath and Snake Talk.
  • The flamingo in Max Payne 2's Show Within a Show, Address Unknown. Justified because the flamingo's dialogue is the dialogue spoken backwards, then played in reverse.
  • In Portal, GLaDOS speaks in this manner, on top of the already distorted, artificial sound of her voice. And the frequent random scrambling and nonsense. Up until you destroy her morality core.
  • Loki from Rune does this during his masterplan exposition, whilst having a good deal of mood swings from manic to psychotic. Then again, he's chained to a rock whilst being subjected to corrosive poisons, so he's not alltogether a balanced individual.
  • Some demons in Shin Megami Tensei (particularly Slime) like to do this.
  • In Freelancer one NPC mentions losing the people chasing them in the "ME-thane" fields. Lampshaded in the main character's personal logs, "Who says ME-thane? It's METH-ane!"

    Visual Novels 
  • Dlanor in Umineko: When They Cry. The last word of her sentences is always EMPHASIZED. It is the English equivalent chosen for her speaking style in Japanese, where she speaks with a cold, robotic voice and ends her sentences with copulas written in KATAKANA.
    • Also used for a very creepy effect in Episode 7: When Willard tells Shannon to go and get Kanon so that he can talk to both of them together, her eyes suddenly become dull and she starts to talking this way while refusing. The more she gets pushed to do so, the number of emphasized syllables increases until in the end everything she says is written in capitalized letters. This is in fact the first more or less obvious hint that Shannon and Kanon are the same person and therefore can not both appear in front of Willard at the same time.
      "It iS the oNE who orDERS US."
  • True Assassin from Fate/stay night, used as a sign that his body and mind are not entirely stable due to the circumstances of his creation. After he manages to "repair" himself by eating the remains of Caster and Lancer he begins talking normally.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner's Strong Bad does it all the time when reading his email messages, often done to accentuate spelling errors. All the speaking characters have spoken this way at least once. There are even a few pages on the Homestar Runner Wiki listing their occurrence.
  • In B.A.D. Advice, the narrator (voiced by Weebl) adds to the surrealism by mispronouncing words, by misinterpreting letters ("your CV, or k-vuh"), adding syllables ("caravanan") or stressing the wrong syllable ("govERNment", "sky lee-oh-pards").

    Web Video 
  • Bro Team Pill - Women are always pronounced "WAH-min".
  • The Game Grumps often enunciate words improperly (usually Jon). This is lampshaded by Arin in one episode:
    "What is with you and your enunCIations?"
    • As a general example, Arin's name is pronounced "AIR-ren".
  • Pat of Two Best Friends Play often conflates words and accents them oddly; for example, pronouncing Persona 4 as "PerSOnafour".

    Western Animation 
  • Dexter's Laboratory: "Dee Dee! Get out of my laBOratory!" Dexter in general sounds like a stereotypical Mad Scientist of indeterminate Eastern European origin.
  • Family Guy: The ghost of Peter's father: "You must go to the dagobaaaaah SYStem."
  • While they were casting Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, when Stephen Colbert auditioned for the eponymous role, they told him to do this every sentence or so. It... didn't quite work out, as one can see on the first DVD collection.
  • Dr. Zoidberg on Futurama pronounces "robot" as "RO-bit," which is ironically how the word was first pronounced.
  • Daria
    • Mr. DeMartino yells VARious syllaBLLES COMpletely at ranDOM! The guy is generically angry and about half a cup of coffee from exploding into a gigantic mass of high-strung destruction, so it's more like he's trying to emphasize everything.
    • In the episode "Fair Play", Quinn has a single line in a play that she keeps rehearsing. After the usual encouragement from Sandi ("Is that how you're going to say it?"), Quinn tries out ever more bizarrely accented readings. Her final delivery makes her sound like an idiot; that and other impending disasters lead to her humiliation. "I WILL make a DAINty garLAND for my HEAD and SING!"
    • In "This Year's Model", Romonica calls up Schloss Morgendorffer to suggest that Quinn would be an ideal candidate for modelling. Daria answers, and mocks Romonica's accent when addressing Daria, responding, "And I am DAria MORgenDORffer."
  • In the first season finale of Drawn Together, Toot does this as part of a gag where she does a bad job pretending to be interested in an Apprentice-style reality show game.
  • Veggie Tales Silly Song "Monkey" had Larry say, "We finally did it, photo-GRAPH-er!"
  • In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, the episode where they prepare for their trip to Europe has a character who constantly sings, "Because I'MMA GOING to EUR-ope!"
  • This is as STILL! as I can STAY!

    Real Life 
  • George W. Bush referenced this during the 2000 election campaign, where in one debate, he admitted "I've been known to mangle a syllable or two myself."
  • Opera singers whose first language is English are often given the following advice about pronouncing the works of Bartok and Janacek: "In HUN-garian and CZECH-oslovakian, the ACC-ent is AL-ways on the first SYLL-able, no EX-ceptions ." This worked better back when Czechoslovakia was a country and when you ignore that Czech and Slovak are distinct languages, but if you just say "Czech" it wrecks the joke.
  • Legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell did this, often with common words, like "intricacies" which he consistently pronounced in-TRICK-a-sees. Whether this was part of his grating persona, or unintentional, is debatable.
  • Spanish accents that use the vos pronoun come across as this to other Spanish speakers, due to the pronoun being derived from the vosotros pronoun, which places the accent on the last syllable in a lot of verb forms. "Prué-ba-lo", for example, becomes "pro-bá-lo".
  • Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien often used to joke that he often "put the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLABle"; the less charitable joke about him was that he was the first Canadian Prime Minister in history who couldn't express himself coherently in either of Canada's official languages. Ironically, this was at least in part an intentional branding strategy to make himself look stupider than he really was; in actual fact, he was a remarkably canny strategist whose political instincts quite regularly blew "smarter" politicians right out of the water.
  • Latin poetry was dependent upon meter and scansion. These are essentially the meter and emphasis on syllables respectively. It's a great way to wreak havoc with Latin students who aren't familiar with it, and it's even more vexingly difficult to pull off correctly.
  • This is often used for comedy when lampooning the French Canadian accent.

UnINtentionAL EXamples

    Anime and Manga 
  • From Noir, the track "Salva Nos" makes "requiem" in the phrase dona eis requiem four syllables and accents the second (re-QU-i-em), while "eis" becomes one syllable instead of two. This is likely because the vocalist's first language is Japanese, which consistently allows vowel hiatus.
  • Many English dubs of anime, particularly earlier ones, do this for character's names and other Japanese words that find their way into the dub. A couple of examples: ah-KEER-ah (as opposed to AH-kee-rah) and sah-KOOR-ah (as opposed SAH-koo-rah).
  • Happens in spades in the theme songs for Persona 4: The Animation, leaving them very difficult to understand even though they're in English.
  • Meta example for Neon Genesis Evangelion. Due to the unusual spelling of Kaworu's name many english fans tend to pronounce it differently than another person who shares his name. It's supposed to be pronounced the same way as someone with the name Kaoru ("Kar-ru") but most people tend to say it as "Kar-wru" or "Ka-wru". It seems that they can't get over the w, really the middle part of his name should be silent

  • In the first Alone in the Dark (2005) movie, Tara Reid's character stresses the "found" in Canadian province "New-FOUND-land" when analyzing the origin of artifacts brought in to her by Christian Slater's character. In Canada, the name is pronounced, "Noofin' Land". Or Noo-Fundland. At least with some people.
  • Anything that comes out of Tommy Wiseau's mouth in The Room is like this. It's actually his real accent.
  • In Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, everyone pronounces Kumar as "KU-mar", whereas in real life, it's pronounced "ku-MAR".

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who's 20th anniversary special, a Time Lord official is taken for a mind scan. His cry of, "No, not the Mind Probe!" was unintentional, and no matter how many takes the director called for, the actor kept saying it the same way.
  • In Battlestar Galactica, most times, when someone says "starboard," they put the stress on the second syllable. The same mistake occurs in Space:1999.
  • In the Amazing Stories episode, "The Mission," a member of the flight crew refers to a belly-gunner without any experience as a "green-belly gunner," when he should have called him a "green belly-gunner." The belly-gunner is the guy in the belly turret. The way he said it, it's a gunner with a green belly.
  • In one edition of 'Big Fat Quiz', notoriously camp comedian Alan Carr got the pronunciation of 'vuvuzela' appallingly, hilariously wrong; the correct pronunciation is 'voo-voo-ZAY-la'. Carr said 'vuh-VOO-ze-luh'.

  • The stirring aria "The Trumpet Shall Sound" from Handel's Messiah has the word "incorruptible" wrongly accented. This is usually corrected in performance, though the corrected version doesn't quite fit Handel's melody.
  • The Agonist do this all the time, as a by-product of fitting complex lyrics to complex melodies. As do practically all bands in the Metalcore genre, making most of their lyrics nearly impossible to understand. The Agonist is a more mild example compared to As I Lay Dying or The Devil Wears Prada.
  • Bad Religion: Lots. A few examples from "Parallel": "Phony COLLective progess, ACCepting that it's all such a mess", and in the background, "our lives are paralLEL"... later, "watching as our FOUNdations crumble away"
  • "Ain't jealousy funny?" from Kellie Pickler's "Best Days of Your Life."
  • "Three hundred fifteen channels" from Josh Turner's "Why Don't We Just Dance."
  • Combined with a strange line-break, the bridge of Taylor Swift's "Fearless" is hard to decipher:
    Well you stood there with me in the door-
    -way, my hands shake, I'm not usually this way...
  • Oasis. Particularly whenever Liam Gallagher has to pronounce a word with a long "I" in it. ("Sheee-iiiiiiinne!")
  • This is par for the course for much Spanish-language music: the lyrics are set without much care towards whether the musical accent matches the linguistic accent.
    • Tone-based languages like Chinese (be it Mandarin, Cantonese or some other dialect) do the same thing. When spoken, every syllable requires either a rising, falling, bouncing or flat tone, and using the wrong one gets you the wrong word. Chinese music, for its own sanity, doesn't care, which probably leads to lots of mondegreens. (Incidentally, there is a Mandarin poem which consists entirely of different tones of the word "shi". Were it sung, it would be incomprehensible.)
      • That depends on what kind of Chinese you refer to on the music thing; Cantonese pop require the tone pattern of the music to be the same of the lyrics.
    • In the case of Spanish rock, much of it has to be with the fact that they're inspired by melodies which were constructed around the English language. A language made with polysyllabic words, most of them stressed in the penultimate syllable is tricky to fit into a typical rock melody.
    • Many J-Pop and J-Rock songs with Gratuitous English may run into this issue. This arises from the fact that the Japanese language doesn't use stress the same way English-speakers do, and, in Japanese songs, syllables can be arbitrarily stressed, split, or swallowed to suit the demands of meter. Attempts to apply this to English-language songs don't usually work as well.
  • Finnish rap. Probably has something to do with Finnish not being English, much as the above.
  • Another one that's rather subtle: "Can it get me / Over her quickly" from the chorus to "Speed" by Montgomery Gentry.
  • Tori Amos does this with most of her songs to the point where it can sound like a different language. She had a more-or-less normal singing voice at the start of her career, but she started to change it over the years to the point that it became unrecognizable (not that that's bad). Compare this early performance to this recent one.
  • Alanis Morissette's "Uninvited" does this quite a few times. "I am flattered by your fascination with me"... "an unfortunate slight"... "must be somewhat heartening"...
    • She does it in Everything as well: "I am the wisEST woMAN you've ever met...I am the kindEST soul with whom you've CONnected..."
      • She does it in EVERYTHING. Half the time, it sounds like a foreign language, between her screaming, and nasally bending of syllables.
  • Similar to the Sondheim example mentioned above, John Mellencamp's "Jack and Diane" does this to the article "a". "Jacky's gonna be uh football star..."
  • A Mondegreen from The Rascals' "Groovin'" results from the singer doing this, accenting the 2nd syllable of "endlessly" so it sounds like "and Leslie." The intention may have been to emphasize the rhyme with "ecstasy".
  • "99 Red Balloons" by Nena: "Ninety-nine minISters MEET..." Though, to be fair, Nena's native language is German and the song was originally written in that language.
  • "Miniature Atlas" by Dappled Cities: the emphasis matches the emphasis of the beats (the kick and the snare in 4/4 time). "MIN-ia-TURE atLAS".
  • Keith Urban has "Heaven only knows how I've been blessed..." in "But for the Grace of God".
  • Incubus singer Brandon Boyd seems fond of these. The best examples are in "Clean" (where the word is repeatedly pronounced "cLAYn" for some reason) and "Have You Ever" ("unabaSHED honeSTAY would be idee-HELL").
  • "Knight Life" by Bury Tomorrow gets the syllables right, but places the accent on the wrong words (to add pathos?): "I have broken THIS line, I have wasted MY time..."
  • H.P. Baxxter, lead "singer" of the German techno band Scooter, does this quite often - for example, pronouncing "decade" as "de-CADE" (making it sound almost like "decayed") and "request" as "REE-quest".
  • Minako Kotobuki tends to do this in her songs with Gratuitous English in them. "like a super WOOO-man", or "buh-BOO-licious" ("bubblicious").
  • Whoopi Goldberg's singing style in the lounge-act scene of Sister Act renders the first line of one of the songs she performs, "I will fol-LOW him..."
  • All over the place in the The Pillows song "Hello, Welcome to Bubbletown's Happy Zoo", mostly owing to the fact that they're Japanese and singing in English.

  • In The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny the protagonist is called Jimmy Mahonney, pronounced MAH-Honee, so some American versions, to keep it along the music, rename him Jimmy MacIntyre (Funny enough, even when the usual American pronuciation is Ma-HOH-nee, the original Irish one is indeed MAH-honne. This is due to different accents having the stresses on words in different places.)
  • The lyric "there ought to be clowns" from Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns" has the accent on "ought", when the music has it on "be". Same with ''"well, maybe next year" — the word with the emotional emphasis should be "next", but the music has it on "year". Sondheim says he knows how confusing it is to sing, but he can't really change it now.
    • Similarly, Sondheim's lyrics for West Side Story's beautiful love song "Somewhere" begin: "There's A place for us..." Apparently this has led to Sondheim referring to it as "The 'Uh' song."
      • Arguably, "a" has here the sense of "one" or "at least one"—somewhere, somehow, you could hope, despite the dark situation they're living in.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: throughout the show, there seems to be no consensus as to whether the female lead's name is pronounced 'ChrisTINE' or 'CHRIStine'.

    Video Games 
  • King's Quest V: Absence Makes The Heart Go Yonder!: "Graham, watch out! A pOIsonous snake!"]]
  • The original version of "One Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy VII accents "interius" and "inanis" on the first syllable and "vehementi" on the second. It should be "inTERius", "inANis" and "veheMENti". Rule of thumb is that the emphasis is on the second-to-last syllable, although that's a guideline, not a rule. However, the last one is due to the song's melody; the first line is sung as "Estuan/Interius/Ira ve/hementi".
  • On the God of War II extras DVD, Cory Balrog starts talking about the game's aniMAtors, then he stops, does a double take, and mocks himself: "I put the emPHAsis on the wrong syLLAble!"
  • In Warcraft III: The human says "Re-SEARCH complete" and "Up-GRADE complete," while the undead, orc, and night elf say "RE-search complete" and "UP-grade complete." The former may be an aversion, as both pronunciations of "research" are correct, but they are mutually inconsistent.
  • Just Cause has BO-lo San-TO-si's legendarily bad voice acting. Com-RAID. Ree-PEHRS. The same thing with about 90% of the voice cast.
  • Last Alert for the Turbo Duo, which would even accent MONOSYLLABLIC words within the sentence wrong!
  • The Dragon Riders Of Pern video game for the Dreamcast had D'kor's dragon constantly pronounce "inventory" as the verb form of "invent" followed by the same "-ory" sound as in "cursory", which sounds odd to Americans (it's the standard pronunciation in Britain).
  • The songs in some of the Dead or Alive 4 ending movies, especially Christie's: "Never been dead, but... seen so many deaths." (This was also used as the pole dance music in Dead or Alive Xtreme 2.)
  • From the "Did You Miss Me?" trailer for Bayonetta 2:
    A Lumen Sage...chee-KY.
  • Earlier House of the Dead games are infamous for this. Perhaps the most well known is when an imp accidentally poses his threat as a question:
    Suffer, like G did?
  • The X-Universe series is infamous for this due to most of the voice actors being non-native English speakers, which when combined with the Mad Libs Dialogue system results in disorienting pauses and emphasis on words. The most infamous/hilarious example of mis-emphasis comes from Boron passengers in Taxi missions, who will begin yelling "My tentacles are drying out!" if the player is running out of time. However, due to weird emphasis, it ends up sounding like "My testicles are drying out!"

    Web Original 
  • raocow's grasp of the English language has proven surprisingly verbose, given that Canadian-French is his primary tongue, but he has an odd tendency to pronounce words in a way that sounds strange to primary English-speakers. He claims he usually has this problem with French-derived English loanwords, as he's uncertain which way to pronounce them. He sometimes mispronounces things on purpose just to be silly. Pronouncing "armageddon" as "ar-MEG-ga-dohn" in his Copy Kitty LP, for instance.

    Western Animation 
  • The man who arranged the song for Lilo & Stitch's opening is notorious for pairing Hawaiian chants with Western music and ignoring pauses and pronunciations (very important in a language with only 17 letters and a glottal stop) to make it sound better, which appears to have turned two unrelated birthday chants about Queen Liliuokalani and Prince Kalakaua into Hawaiian-sounding gibberish.
  • From The Lion King's "Be Prepared": "deCADES of denial." As usual, the pronunciation was forced in order to fit the melody.
  • The song for the second series credits of Blinky Bill mispronounces Marcia. This is only the singer. When the cast sing they get it right.
  • From My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • It happens several times in "At the Gala" from the first season finale, especially the instances of "TOnight at the Gala".
    • The "EquesTRIa Girls" commercial.
    • Zecora does this occasionally to get her rhymes to work. "MonSTER" in "Secret of My Excess" is particularly painful.
  • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
  • In King of the Hill, Peggy's poor grasp of Spanish usually results in this.
  • Bugs Bunny
    • In the credits of Tortoise Beats Hare (1941, Avery), with Charles MAChimson (McKimson), Fred AVERy, and Dave MonAHhan.
    • He does it again in Falling Hare (1943, Clampett) as he tells how gremlins wreck planes with their "diaboLICal saboTAYgee."
    • In "Rebel Rabbit," Bugs is about to confront a game warden, but stresses to be "non-CHAL-ant" and use "fin-NES-sie."
  • The Beany And Cecil cartoon does this once with Cecil's title and creator Bob Clampett's name in the theme. First instance:
    Lovable, gullible, armless, harmless,
    Ten foot tall and wet,
    Cecil the Seasick SerPENT,
    Created by Bob ClamPETT.

    Real Life 
  • This is actually rather common in many languages with large speaker bases and multiple varieties. English has quite a few examples, such as: adult vs. adult, address (noun) vs. address, moustache vs. moustache, and many other examples.
  • A potential problem that non-native speakers of tonal languages such as Chinese need to be careful with.
  • Similarly, some languages, including English, simply make more use of stress than others. French, for example, tends to afford most syllables equal stress, unless the vowel is accented; English, by contrast, tends to have at least one stressed syllable in every word, which as the regional differences illustrates doesn't necessary have anything to do with the sounds involved.
  • The announcers at the London Olympics kept pronouncing Mo Farah's name as "Mo FaRAH."
  • It's a common problem among the hard of hearing, who may not be able to discern stress in spoken language. (It also shows up when people use a word they've never heard spoken aloud: this often crops up in medical settings, where patients or family members may not know how to pronounce the words they've read in the literature.)
  • If you're British: Americans. If you're American: the British. If you're from some other English-speaking country: British and American people, each on different words.
  • Oh dear goodness, the Russian language. Once you study it (for say, 8 years), you begin to pick up patterns, but you can never be sure until you hear it for sure or look in the dictionary. Coupled with the fact that Russian words tend to be long, and also somewhat tonal (trUsy — cowards, trusY — underwear), you can never be sure where the real stress lays, or if the word you said was the one you meant. And the spelling rules, or the akaniye and ikaniye accents...
    • Most other Stress-Accent system languages have an absolute rule on which syllable gets the accent. Some put it on the first, some on the middle, some on the last, and so on. Russian normally puts it on the penultimate (second to last) syllable by default, although sometimes it goes on the first. And there is no way to predict upon which syllable the stress will fall, and changing which syllable gets the stress can warp the meaning.
    • Naturally, this trope is a common trait of foreigners in Russian-language words. For example, in the third movie of The Elusive Avengers, Ksanka recognizes Ovechkin (who impersonates a Frenchman) by his overdone, fake-sounding Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable.
  • New Orleans is pronounced by locals as "New OR-lins," not "New Ore-LEENS," as most of the rest of the country pronounces it. If you've got a thick accent, you might pronounce it more like "NAW-lins" anyway.
  • Similarly, Louisville, the biggest city in Kentucky, is pronounced by locals as "LOO-a-vull", when Loo-EE-vill is actually correct since it is named for the French Louis XIV. "LOO-is-vill" means you ain't never been here.
  • Whether this is real, a joke or an urban legend, the story goes that Madame Degaulle was once asked what women want. Her reply (in English) was "A Penis" to which her husband added "In English it's pronounced 'HAppiness'".
  • Some people on the Autistic spectrum have this as a Verbal Tic.
  • Christopher Walken and Jeff Goldblum are very well known for this.
  • Most places named "Lancaster" (e.g. in England and California) are pronounced "LAN-KASS-ter" (with equal emphasis on the first two syllables), but Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Lancaster, Ohio, are pronounced "LANC-uh-ster" (with a strong accent on the first syllable). The latter is sometimes even pronounced "LANC-ster", entirely leaving out the middle syllable.
  • Tokyo Japanese and its variants use a pitch-accent system, meaning that accent is marked by a drop in pitch after the accented syllable instead of a louder or longer pronunciation of an unspecified marked change in intonation. That’s why Japanese learners of English find it hard to remember where the English accent is, and their teachers often emphasise the accent in a way that only serves to confuse their students further. Similarly, learners of Japanese do this almost universally, as for some reason most textbooks and dictionaries (monolingual or otherwise) don’t bother noting the accent. It gets more complicated, as there is a wide variety of intonational patterns, which is part of the reason dictionaries often don’t bother mentioning the Standard, Tokyo variety. In case you’re studying Japanese and want to avert this, here is a dictionary that does point out the accent, here is a basic explanation of how Tokyo Japanese accent works, and here is an explanation of Japanese intonational systems in general, with emphasis on Tokyo- and Osaka-type accents. (Or you could just pronounce everything with no accent, as some dialects do.)

''Hee hee hee! Seems like my advice HAD no effect! Suffer, like G DID?!''

Alternative Title(s):

Accent On The Wrong Syllable, Emphasis On The Wrong Syllable, Ptitle0zxdfgin