"She's right! We all talk like Maurice Chevalier!"
Occasionally, a film or TV show will be set in a foreign country, where another language is spoken. Instead of having the actors speak normally, or having them attempt to speak in their characters' actual language, the characters instead speak English - except in an accent to constantly remind viewers that these characters are foreign. A Translation Convention that bats you over the head with the Rule of Perception.
Occasionally, their speech will be peppered with some words and phrases from the language they are attempting to emulate, but these will be rare, and only the simplest ones that the audience is intended to know, such as "oui" or "hai" (and perhaps a Foreign Cuss Word or two, if only to Get Crap Past The Radar).
Sometimes dubbing/translation in news programs can seem like this, because often it is easier to find (for example) a Russian translator who speaks English with a heavy Russian accent than a native English speaker who can readily translate Russian.
Not to be confused with Poirot Speak, where a foreign character speaking English will pepper their speech with words and phrases from their native language. Although the effect is much the same, Just a Stupid Accent can grate a little more, as the viewer is left to surmise that Doktor Von Evil speaks flawless English but somehow never learned the word for "yes" (though this is somewhat justified in that a spontaneous response to something is likely to trigger your mother language, especially if it's something that can be said without the need for sentence building in your head).
This also occurs when two foreign characters who speak the same language meet up in another country. Instead of conversing in their native language, they still converse in their broken second language.
Rarely used outside cartoons anymore, although once more prominent in live-action comedy films.
- The "Opulence" DirecTV ad, wherein a Russian Oligarch brags about saving big cash with DirecTV.
"Opulence. I has it."
"I also like savings ze mahhney."
"Most premiums televisions peckidge... I jump in it."
- Since 2009, UK price-comparison website comparethemarket.com has been running the advertising campaign Compare the Meerkat starring Aleksandr Orlov, a Russian meerkat, and an ever increasing cast of similarly Russian characters. None of them ever speak actual Russian, only heavily-accented English.
- Super Atragon: Lead female protagonist Annette has a British Accent in the English dub for no reason beyond the producers ensuring the lead female protagonist isn't mistaken for American.
- The Hellsing manga has a brief flashback to Pip Bernadotte's childhood, where we see his grandfather explain the family line of work to him. Both characters are French, but they speak to each other in English with a heavy French accent, at least in one translation.
- In the dub of Axis Powers Hetalia, whenever we see non-English speaking characters talking to each other or to their nations, they simply speak English with a foreign accent.
- In the English dub of Code Geass: Akito the Exiled, the European characters all have French accents (since in the backstory of the Code Geass-verse, Napoleon succeeded in conquering all of Europe).
- The Astérix comics do this with the font of the foreigner who was speaking. The Greeks would use angular letters, the Germans would speak in Fraktur, and the Normans would use Nordic-looking letters. Sometimes the differently-fonted speech can be understood by the Gaulish protagonists, but not always. The Egyptian hieroglyphics were often pictionary but sometimes just random drawings or French visual puns, and they weren't understood by the Gauls. In one hilarious scene, when Gaulish sidekick Obelix asks an Egyptian to tell him to say "speak" in hieroglyphics, Obelix's speech is rendered as crude stick figures instead of hieroglyphics.
- The Vikings use diacritics (Ø and Å), which the Gauls can't understand. Astérix tries to speak it, but places the diacritics on the wrong letters. Later on, a Gaul slave to the Vikings places the diacritics on the correct letters, but the bar on the O is inverted and the ring on the A is a square. One Viking comments on his horrible accent.
- Played with in Asterix and the Picts: the Pictish warrior MacAroon speaks in vaguely Scots gibberish in a Celtic-looking font. At first this seems like the usual Asterix style of depicting accents, but we soon realise that he's struggling with low confidence and a bad throat, and as a result, he's mumbling everything he says - when he's feeling more confident and healthier, he speaks in a normal font. The Foreign-Looking Font here is a way of indicating that he can be understood by the other characters so long as he's speaking clearly, but if he mumbles or stammers at all, his thick accent makes it impossible for the Gaulish characters to understand him. (In Real Life, Pictish and Gaulish were probably mutually intelligible, in much the same way as British English and the Scots language are today, but, just as in the comics, understanding it if spoken badly would have been quite hard work.)
- In Asterix in Britain, the Britons also speak a strange form of Gaulish. In the original, this is represented as French with English syntax. The English translation has them speaking in a frightfully stereotyped Stiff Upper Lip sort of way, don't you know.
- Whenever creator/artist Sergio Aragonés addresses readers in his comics, he "speaks" with a heavily-accented English. This has occasionally caused him trouble in real life. Once when he was invited to be a speaker for a panel at a convention, the con organizers politely provided him with a translator... despite Aragonés knowing perfect English and only using the goofy accent as a gag. He politely pretended not to speak English so as not to waste the translator's time.
- Captain Blood has Basil Rathbone put on an atrocious French accent in case the viewers forget Levasseur is meant to be French. He milks it to a hilarious extent.
- Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, Clouseau goes on to avert it by speaking in an accent which not only bears little or no resemblance to any French accent real or imagined ( "whit is zis minkey??" ) but never actually speaking a single word of actual French, although Sellers himself spoke the language fluently.
- Of course it's repeatedly lampshaded where even his fellow countrymen can't understand his accent, and most French individuals portrayed in the films speak completely accent-free.
- Firefox: This movie goes back and forth between this trope and Translation Convention. The main character Grant (played by Clint Eastwood) is stated in the film to be fluent in Russian due to him having a Russian mother. When he is in Russia speaking to Russians, it sounds just like Clint Eastwood speaking English, thus Translation Convention. When the Russians speak back to him (or are speaking to each other), they have over the top hammy Russian accents. The only scene in the film where the Russian accent is justified is when the Soviet premier contacts Grant aboard the Firefox - since he knows Grant is American he speaks to him in English with an accent.
- Mel Brooks likes this trope.
- Lampshaded in History of the World Part I, the source of the above quote.
- Also present in Young Frankenstein, where the (ostensibly Romanian) townsfolk speak English with bad German or Cockney accents. Inspector Kemp's is the worst - like Inspector Clouseau, his own countrymen can't understand him half the time.
- Slumdog Millionaire. To the extreme extent that Pop-Cultural Osmosis from London has somehow seeped all the way to the slums of Mumbai.
- Not entirely though, much of the first part of the movie, when the main characters are kids, has them speaking in subtitled Hindi. This does strangely vanish once they grow up, though.
- Also used in the Miami Vice movie. The Colombian drug lords only speak English with an accent.
- Bond films used to do this quite often with Russian characters. See Octopussy or GoldenEye for two particularly blatant examples. It was so pervasive in the Bond movies that apparently no one on the set noticed when Bond managed to convince a German military officer that he was German just by putting on an accent. There is a notable aversion in The World Is Not Enough. Bond is set up as a Russian scientist, partnering him with Christmas Jones (American). For most of their introductory dialogue, he speaks with a thick Russian accent, making it almost this trope - until she comments, in Russian, that he speaks remarkably good English for a Russian. He responds that he went to Oxford in Russian that is apparently unaccented enough to pass without comment.
- Channel 4's documentary about the Hindenburg disaster, Hindenburg, was very powerful - apart from the awful German accents spoken by the passengers and pilots of the airship.
- The film version of Memoirs of a Geisha is extremely bad about this. Not only do the Japanese characters speak Engrish with a bit of Gratuitous Japanese thrown in, but they actually hold conversations with an American (who was Japanese in the book) with no explanation given as to how they can understand each other.
- Daniel Day-Lewis in The Unbearable Lightness of Being is an Irishman portraying a tragic Czech lothario by putting on an accent that is a mixture of TV-presenter British and cold-war-spy-movie Russian. The effect is less than suave, more like distractingly ridiculous.
- In The Mask of Zorro, almost all of the Spanish noblemen speak English in Spanish accents for the entire film, except for one whose accent is British, but there is a translation scene in which Catherine Zeta-Jones is addressed by a Mexican peasant woman who does NOT speak English. She speaks Nahuatl for a moment, and then her daughter translates into Spanish-accented English. It's a pretty good choice, in that no California Spanish noblewoman would be expected to speak an Indian language.
- Lampshaded in the second movie. Zorro is annoyed when his horse refuses to obey his command until he speaks actual Spanish.
- In Edward Zwick's Defiance all the main characters, who are Eastern European Jews, speak in heavily Slavic-accented English when speaking amongst themselves, presumably in Yiddish. However, they switch to Russian when conversing with Soviet partisans.
- K19: The Widowmaker has Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson hilariously attempting Russian accents. However, they still manage to sound just like Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson.
- Used extensively in Ratatouille. None of the voice actors are actually French.
- This is especially glaring in The Sound of Music where the Austrians (good guys, but definitely German-speaking) speak normal English and the Germans (bad guys, ALSO German-speaking) speak English with a German accent. Possibly justified on another level - German as spoken in Germany sounds quite distinct from Austrian German (especially to an Austrian), so representing that difference this way makes it an Accent Adaptation.
- The 2002 film Amen also has Germans speaking English with a German accent, while the Americans speak normal American English.
- Catalina Caper as observed by Tom Servo in MST3K: "Oh, what are you, Creepy Girl? Are you French, Italian, or one of those swarthy Gypsy types, heh heh? Your accent certainly implies a Romance language but I just can't be sure! But we can definitely rule out a Germanic language..."
- Amusingly, Tom is wrong. The actress (though not necessarily the character) was from Sweden, and thus her native language was indeed a Germanic one.
- The Return of Godzilla has the Russians in the English export dub speaking this way, and the American ambassador's dubber tries his best to hide his own mid-Atlantic accent.
- The Lord of the Rings - Utterly subverted. Background: J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth has lots of languages spoken by different peoples and nations; in the Third Age, Westron (the "Common Speech") spread as a lingua franca for trade and politics (and also as mothertongue for some, e.g. the hobbits). In the novels, Westron names and speech are always rendered as English, while other languages may stay original or be rendered English too depending on the situation.) When the live-action films were made, a great deal of time and thought was put into what accents each character should use, because it reflected their background. They * do* speak their own languages from time to time, not just "we're representing someone speaking in Russian by having him speak in English with a heavy fake Russian accent". Because the Hobbits only speak Westron and they are the viewpoint characters, most of the dialogue is in English. The accents they figured out are:
- Gondorians - speak with a Received Pronunciation accent, proper London English, because Westron is a descendant of the language of their Númenórean ancestors (Adûnaic, no longer in use), and thus Gondorian is the "correct" version.
- Rohirrim - Horse barbarians from the North that settled next to Gondor and allied with it, they speak with a Rhotic accent (some think this is an "American" accent, but other English-speaking regions like Cornwall also sound like this). The actual language of the Rohirrim is always represented through Old English in the texts (to convey a lingual familiarity to the hobbits/readers), so their Rhotic accent is a hint that Common Speech really isn't the mother-tongue of Théoden (who is actually mentioned as having a very odd accent in the books, since he grew up speaking Elvish in Gondor, due to his father's political exile, and only learned Rohirric when he returned), Éomer, and Éowyn.
- Elves - you'd think Elves would speak drastically different like in other fantasy stories, but in Tolkien's storyverse the Elves are master-linguists, able to perfectly learn any language. So the hint of this is that they actually speak very formally and very precisely, sort of like the Gondorians but you can tell they're concentrating on what words they use.
- Hobbits - "Hobbitish" is a regional dialect of Common Speech, which they represent with a West Country English accent. Sam and all of the "standard" Hobbits speak this way. Bilbo and Frodo are book-educated so their accent isn't quite as pronounced. The movie-makers ingeniously decided that Pippin has a Scottish accent because Tookland is hilly like Scotland (and so actor Billy Boyd's Scottish accent fit in with Pippin). Merry sounds like a complete oddball, because Buckland is nothing like the other parts of the Shire.
- Dwarves - Funny story here: by Word of God, just as the Rohirrim are Middle-Earth's counterpart to the Anglo-Saxons, Dwarves are the counterpart to the Jews. That is, just like Jews, Dwarves in Middle-Earth are dispossessed of their homeland, and while speaking the language of the land, have their own private language which is nothing like it: Tolkien constructed Dwarvish (or Khuzdul) according to the rules of Semitic, including triconsonantal roots. Their origin story (in The Silmarillion) even echoes the sacrifice of Isaac. So logically, you'd think they should have Yiddish accents or something. However, in the movies, they decided to give Gimli a Scottish Lowlands accent, because it has "an old-sounding feel to it". (This takes after pretty much every fantasy dwarf since Tolkien. Heaven knows where they got it.) However, because Gimli's actor was Welsh, Gimli's accent is somewhere between.
- Especially perplexing in The Karate Kid Part II: Most of the film is set in Okinawa. There are quite a few scenes where Daniel is nowhere around, and every character on-screen is Okinawan. However, they persist in speaking in broken, heavily accented English rather than subtitled Japanese, the most notorious example being Miyagi-sensei and Sato. The few times anyone DOES speak Japanese, it's either translated for Daniel's benefit by someone else (the elder Miyagi-sensei's words upon waking to see his son sitting beside him), or not translated at all (Chozen's rant as he runs away during the storm).
- Averted in Irma la Douce: for once, a comedy (in English) set in Paris where no one tries to put on a frog-eating accent.
- Parodied in Duck Soup. Chicolini (Chico) has disguised himself as Firefly (Groucho), and when Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont) asks why he's talking like that, he replies, "Well, I think maybe sometime I go to Italy, and I'm practicing the language." Impressed, Mrs. Teasdale gushes, "Your dialect is perfect."
- In Congo, Tim Curry speaks the entire time in Vampire Vords.
- Completely invoked in Captain America: The First Avenger, which takes the style of a 40s war film. Nazis and members of eventual-Nazi-offshoot HYDRA never seem to speak in German at all, whether they're speaking to each other or to Cap, whether they're healthy or taking their last, cyanide-laced breath.
- However, the Norwegians were briefly heard speaking in their native tongue. Not that they actually spoke it that well...
- The Debt (American version): Played straight when the characters are supposed to be speaking Hebrew. Other languages are subtitled.
- The remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has most of the cast speaking in a Swedish accent. Daniel Craig is the only exception, speaking more or less in his natural British accent.
- Lampshaded in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. "I'm French! Why do you think I have this outrrrageous accent, you silly king-a!?". (Made funnier when later dialogue implies most of the French knights don't actually understand actual French).
- The English dub of Night Watch has almost all of the Russian characters speaking English with a Russian accent.
- Disney's Beauty and the Beast takes place in France, so presumably everyone is "really" speaking French. Except Lumiere and Lumiere alone has a French accent, apparently just because he has a stereotypical French personality.
- Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts are obviously supposed to be a British valet and a British maid, respectively, so at least their accents make sense.
- Played straight by Tom Cruise in Valkyrie, with a German accent, but then averted by the rest of the cast, who speak plain English. All the characters in the movie are German, but Cruise is the only American actor, so it almost makes sense, sort of...
- In The Eagle Has Landed, Michael Caine uses a thick German accent in the beginning of the film, but switches to his normal one later on to indicate he's speaking English.
- In the film adaptation of The Book Thief, everybody speaks English with a German accent and the occasional German word.
- This stays faithful to the book it's based on, where the character's dialogue is English with some German words mixed in.
- In Rudyard Kipling's story In the Rukh (1893) Muller, a German forest ranger in India, speaks with a highly-exaggerated accent unless he's speaking the local Indian dialect. Observe:
If I only talk to my boys like a Dutch uncle, dey say, “It was only dot damned old Muller,” and dey do better next dime. But if my fat-head clerk he write and say dot Muller der Inspecdor-General fail to onderstand and is much annoyed, first dot does no goot because I am not dere, and, second, der fool dot comes after me he may say to my best boys: “Look here, you haf been wigged by my bredecessor.” I tell you der big brass-hat pizness does not make der trees grow.
- Not just the accent, but also the grammatical mistakes and occasional German words.
- Justified in Starplex- the computer that handles the translations assigns alien languages an accent so listeners can tell what language is being spoken.
- Referenced in the Animorphs book "Elfangor's Secret", when the Animorphs have time-travelled to 15th-century France.
I helped the green knight get to his feet. "Sorry," I said. "How do you say 'sorry' in French?""Sorreeee?" Marco offered. "Ah em verreee sorreee."
- Used all the time in Mission: Impossible, when the team traveled to a foreign country and had to speak extensively with the locals. To pick one example at random, "The Phoenix" is set in an unnamed Iron Curtain country, causing everyone to speak with thick psuedo-Slavic accents throughout.
- Also common in other spy shows of the 1960s.
- Played with in the British sitcom 'Allo 'Allo!, set in France at the time of the Second World War. Everyone speaks English but the two British Air Force officers speak with a posh accent, which is meta-English, and can't understand the rest of the cast who speak meta-French. The British policeman also speaks with a posh accent when talking in "English" but when addressing the other characters in "French" (which was a second language) he has a deliberately distorted accent leading to some of the humor in the show such as saying "Good morning" as Good moaning and "passing by" as pissing by. Surprisingly this wasn't censored by the strict regulations for pre-watershed BBC programming, and this joke was used almost every time his character was on screen. All of the German characters speak with German accents (strength varies between characters).
- Michelle of the Resistance, the only French character who speaks "English", does so by putting on the same posh accent as the RAF officers and the policeman, usually beginning the conversation with an RAF briefing-esque "All right, chaps".
- In one episode, the 'ghost' of Renee speaks actual French "J'accuse! J'accuse!"; when talking about it later, the accused guy wonders, 'who is this 'Jacques Hughes'?
- And another when ze Colonel and Hans are forced to pretend to be British, they try to speak English, but it comes out as "Wafflewafflewafflewaffle"
- The cast of Whose Line Is It Anyway? often make fun of their own difficulty at rendering realistic foreign accents.
- The BBC seems very fond of dubbing over Japanese speakers in Jonathan Ross's Japanorama with people speaking English, but with very pronounced Japanese accents.
- Used in Hogan's Heroes for the Germans, bar the occasional use of well-known German phrases. This is averted with French, however, as LeBeau talks to himself and other Frenchmen in actual French. One reason for this may be that every character on the show (including the Allied prisoners) understands German, but only LeBeau understands French and so the audience is left in the dark like everyone else.
- Also, the (American, British, and French) prisoners seem to be able to pass themselves off as German when the situation calls for it simply by speaking English with a heavy German accent
- Shows up on Lost with Iraqi characters, but entirely averted with the Korean characters (because their actors actually speak Korean.)
- Well, one of the actors speaks Korean. Daniel Dae Kim, whose character speaks nothing but Korean for the first 4 seasons, is a native English speaker who hadn't spoken Korean for years.
- While the original English indeed uses a foreign language, the Brazilian Portuguese dub of How I Met Your Mother has this exchange:
Ted: You can't even speak another language!
Victoria: (Portuguese with a British accent) Yes, I can.
- Parodied in Arrested Development when it becomes apparent that Buster thinks you speak Spanish by putting on a Mexican accent.
- In one episode of The Brittas Empire, Gordon claims to know French when answering a phone call and simply puts on a silly French accent.
- The short-lived, little-seen 1988 series adaptation of The Dirty Dozen had a bizarre and memorable example. The squad was behind enemy lines in Italy, and it was an important plot point that some (but only some) of the Dozen could speak fluent Italian. Instead of actually having the actors speak Italian on screen, the use of Italian is indicated by having the American actors speak English with an absurdly exaggerated Italian accent. It's not meant to be Played for Laughs.
- Invoked and lampshaded on The A-Team, "The Only Church In Town", when they go on a mission in Ecuador and need to negotiate transportation with a villager. Hannibal can actually speak a little Spanish, but can't establish a dialogue with the man. Murdock, on the other hand, makes himself understood perfectly well... simply by speaking English with a ridiculous Spanish accent!
- In the Season 5 premiere, the A-Team goes against terrorists who have hijacked a plane in Spain. Though the terrorists demand a prisoner release from a Spanish jail, it is unclear if they are Spanish too because they speak nothing but accented English. Murdock later gains access to the plane by posing as a Spanish co-pilot, speaking nothing but English with a Spanish accent and some Spanish words thrown in.
- A Monty Python sketch features a United Nations meeting where everyone listens to translations of what is being said...which are all just English in different accents, except for a Nigerian representative who just hears drums.
- Jack of All Trades takes place on a French colony, but French characters inevitably just speak English with a silly accent. They could possible be speaking English for the benefit of the American and English leads, but they speak the same way even when every character present is French.
- MacGyver tended to do this with Russian characters.
- Mocked in Mock the Week during a segment on "unlikely lines to hear in a war film":
Hugh Dennis: *In heavy German accent* ...Vy are we speaking English?
- Parodied in Doctor Who. The cast constantly find themselves in different parts of Time and Space, but blending in isn't really a problem, as the Translator Microbes will handle the language. That won't stop the Doctor's companions repeatedly trying to use the stereotypical accent and mannerisms of wherever they land, just for the Doctor to tell them, deadpan, "No...no, don't do that." When Donna tried speaking real Latin to Romans, the translator got confused and they heard what they thought was Celtic.
- Season 2 of The Wire is face-palmingly full of these. You've got Greek, Ukrainian and Israeli characters all speaking with the same heavy, vaguely-east-European accent - with an unmistakable American accent underneath. All three actors are, of course, Americans. As a bonus, the various Greek characters speak English with one another half the time (though, Greek the rest of the time). But of course, they are not even Greek.
- The Showtime miniseries The Feast of All Saints (based on the Anne Rice novel of the same name) uses this to get the effect of French Creole characters living in antebellum Louisiana. Most of the cast speak English peppered with French using French accents, with the example of one character who is from Mississippi and uses a "standard" southern accent.
- Several episodes of Murder, She Wrote took place in a foreign nation (including East Germany, France and the Soviet Union). In all such episodes, natives of those countries spoke to one another in accented English even in private.
- Subverted on The Americans. The pilot is full of flashback scenes set in Russia, with people speaking English to each other. It looks like this trope is happening, but in fact they really are speaking English to each other — part of the protagonists' spy training is that they speak only in English. Later in the show we see scenes involving Russians who aren't deep-cover agents, and they all speak subtitled Russian.
- Pink Floyd:
- "A Spanish Piece" from More has the very-British David Gilmour attempting (and failing comically) to imitate a Spanish accent to tell us, that, yes, this piece is supposed to be taking place in Spain. Because there's no way we could have known that from the title, right?
- "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" has Roger Waters attempting a Scottish accent as he tells a story a bunch of rodents about a battle he apparently died in. His accent is stunningly modern for a pict, who were absorbed into the Gaels by the 11th century.
- The Reduced Shakespeare Company Radio Show adds a flashback scene to Romeo and Juliet, performed in a ridiculous Italian accent ("don't-a mention the spaghett'").
- A John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme skit about Voltaire has three lines in French before deciding to abandon that in favour of "Ou'rraajous Frranch accen's". Simon Kane refuses to participate, and finishes the sketch with a proper French accent.
- Lampshaded by Dylan Moran in Monster — the bit where he's talking about the common view of the French:
"I 'ate my painteengs. I 'ate them! I 'ate your painteengs too!"
"You ate my painteengs?!"
"No, I hate zem; why do we have to talk fahkeeng Eenglish?"
(laughing) "Where are you from, exactlee?"
- And again, when his accent begins to slip:
"Ah danno, I'm Eurotrash, shaddap!"
- And by Eddie Izzard on several occasions, when attempting a foreign accent and then realizing it's just not going to work. Hence sulky Soviets deciding 'we dahn't wunnuh ga tuther moohuhyun' and Pavlov (during his cat experiment) becoming Welsh.
- During a James Bond bit he lost control of the accent he was doing for a SMERSH goon. He ran with it and gave the goon an electronic voice disguise gizmo that was stuck in shop demonstration mode.
- Paul F. Tompkins' routine "Cherry Picking", where the joke quickly from superstar migrant laborer Jesus Guerrero signing baskets at fruit-picking fantasy camp, to how bad the voice Paul is using for him is ("it kinda just sounds like you're a vampire or something") — and finally, to Jesus commiserating that he knows "this bit has outworn its welcome", but he can't stop as long as the audience keeps laughing.
- In Paranoia, Communists often speak English (well, "Clonish") with stereotypical Russian accents and broken grammar— but the characters generally don't know what that is or what it means, and displaying such knowledge about Commies is a good way to get accused of being a Commie yourself.
- One mission involves everyone playing Commies in a Commie-dominated Alpha State. The book actually explains the stereotypical broken grammar in formal terms, followed by "If having trouble understanding, not to be worrying, merely to be imitating helpful examples given throughout book".
- Used in the play Translations by Brian Friel. The characters seem to alternate between English and Irish accents. The audience eventually realizes that the accents represent the English and Gaelic languages. We can understand everyone, because it's Just A Stupid Accent, but the characters can't understand each other. This becomes especially devastating in a scene involving an English man and an Irish woman who have fallen in love and only wish they could communicate.
- Gilbert and Sullivan's The Grand Duke, which features a German theater troupe with an English lead actress, inverts this trope: everyone speaks unaccented English, except for the English character, who is written with a thick German accent.
- An amusing subversion of Real Life Writes the Plot: the role of Julia was originally played by Ilka Von Palmay, who had an impressive singing voice but a Hungarian accent.
- The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) does Macbeth in (deliberately) terrible Scottish accents.
- The musical version of The Scarlet Pimpernel features Marguerite and Armand St Just, as well as the villains Chauvelain and Robbispierre (yes, that one) who are all, obviously, French. They all speak in thick French accents peppered with french phrases even when in France. With the exception of Chauvelain, who inexplicably dons a British dialect (though still opting to keep the random French words).
- Even Chauvelain gets the accent treatment about fifty percent of the time, depending on the production's director.
- In Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon, in the map Belleville (a parody of Paris) one of the nameless NPCs found wandering the landscape will lampshade this trope in one of their readable thoughts.
- Deus Ex plays this straight for the Chinese people in Hong Kong, and also has it as a plot point: a supposedly French mechanic speaks with the wrong accent. It's a tip-off that he's an impostor... well, that, and the corpse of the real mechanic lying there in the open.
- If Rome: Total War is an indication, the Greeks, Egyptians, Eastern peoples, Carthaginians, Numidians, and the various barbarian tribes, all spoke perfect English aside from their accents. Medieval II: Total War takes this one step further: Scots speak in a thick Scottish accents, The Holy Roman Empire and France speak in thick over-the-top German and French accents and throw in Gratuitous German/French on a regular basis, the English speak in a posh English accent, the Moors, Turks and Egyptians speech is in an Arabic accent and is laced with Arabic terms, the Spanish, Portuguese, various Italians, and the Byzantines all speak in a generic Southern European accent, the Eastern European factions (and, for some reason, the Danes) speak in a generic Eastern European accent, and the Mongols and Timurids speak in an egregious East-Asian accent.
- The Kingdoms Expansion to Medieval II: Total War takes it one step further. The units all speak in English with an accent depending on their cultural type, e.g. when playing as the Vikings in the Britannia Campaign your Huscarl units will speak English with a vaguely Scandinavian accent, while any Bill Militia etc have a vaguely English Accent and so on.
- Total War: Shogun 2 featured an odd variation of this as well. The units and generals speak entirely in Japanese, but the campaign and battle advisors speak English in ridiculously overblown Japanese accents.
- Call of Duty examples:
- In Call of Duty: Black Ops, by some miracle of linguistics, everybody in a Russian coal mine/gulag can speak fluent, accented English. Mason, having already been CIA by the time he was imprisoned, probably spoke Russian from the start, and the English we hear could be Translation Convention. However, the Enemy Chatter (occasional phrases by the camp guards, but primarily the situation updates through the camp's PA system as the uprising progresses) is in entirely correct, unaccented and unsubtitled Russian, which seems to suggest that Mason does NOT speak/understand it: why would he understand the convicts but not the guards?
- This was also the the case with the Russian soldiers in the earlier (that is, World War II themed) Call of Duty games, most likely because they were on the player's side, and having to read subtitles would probably have jarred with the game's generally fast-paced nature. This trope was also, however, completely averted with the German soldiers, who speak what is very definitely actual German.
- Assassin's Creed plays this painfully straight in the second game where Ezio has a thick Italian accent and people will occasionally speak Gratuitous Italian for no real reason.
- The explanation is actually that the Animus Desmond uses has translation software but it isn't perfect. In Brotherhood this can be mentioned in an optional conversation.
- It's worth mentioning that many fans and critics complained that everyone but Altair had an "appropriate" accent in the first game, with the general consensus that Altair should have had a matching accent, even though that makes no more sense than him speaking English in the first place (he gained one in later appearances). The accents in the Ezio trilogy were generally well received for the same "reason."
- The Splinter Cell series uses this a lot, though Pandora Tomorrow had a lot of Not Even Bothering with the Accent instead.
- Done cleverly in the English dubs of Metal Gear Solid 3 and Portable Ops, in which Snake is an excellent speaker of Russian. Russian characters speaking in Russian are translated to English using an accent that analogizes to their Russian one (Volgin sounds American, Sokolov sounds British, etc), with the exception being Granin, who, when encountered, is drunk. Because his slurred speech is harder for Snake to understand, we hear him talking with a thick Russian accent.
- The English dub of the Operation Flashpoint series gives the locals a fairly stereotypical Slavic / Eastern European / whatever accent. Oddly, Viktor Troska speaks with a British accent (maybe justified since he spent many years living outside of Nogova and working in various special forces, maybe even the British SAS). The Czech dub of the game features everybody speaking without accents, while the Soviet characters are mostly dubbed by Russian native speakers in all versions.
- About half of Dragon Age: Inquisition takes place in Orlais, the local Fantasy Counterpart Culture to France, and most Orlesians speak English with French accents — even in private among themselves, in conversations you can eavesdrop on. Occasionally they lapse into Pardon My Klingon ("Merde!").
- English appears to be the only human language in the setting, regional accents are all you get. Antivans speak it with a Spanish accent, Fereldan uses British accents, Tevinter used a different subset of British accents etc. Dwarfs also speak English, with a mix of North American accents this time (they occasionally mix in a few words of an old Dwarf language, but the common tongue apparently started as a Dwarf trading language). Dalish elfs speak mostly English with a Welsh accent, with a few Elven words mixed in (the Elven language being mostly lost). The Qunari actually do have their own language, but outside their own territory speak English in a very distinct, flat way with no identifiable accent (mainly because very few of them can speak the common tongue, and mastery is prized in the Qun, so they are silent and stoic with flat affect out of shame). When we do hear snatches of Qunlat from native speakers it's in the same non-accent.
- Discussed in Cracked, which calls Just a Stupid Accent The 4th Stupidest Way Movies Deal with Foreign Languages.
- Used as a gag in Gorgeous Princess Creamy Beamy with the natives of French West Stereotypia: "Eet eez a small nation, deevoted to upholding zee stereotypes of owair fairfazzers! Cheese, wine, love, berets, stripy shairts, a zense of cultural zuperioretee, and talkeeng like zis instead of speaking ze actual French!"
- There's also a character from Russian East Stereotypia, who randomly uses Russian reversals.
- Irregular Webcomic! uses this in comic no. 2435, and (as expected) has a link back to this very trope.
- Robert M. Price, host of The Bible Geek podcast likes to read questions submitted to him in fake accents of country of origin of people submitting questions.
- Emalf gets a Latino accent on The With Voices Project.
- Parodied in the blog novel Fartago. In Chapter 3, the protagonists Farta and Tago meet Artiste, a member of their tribe whose dialogue is written in a bad French accent (saying "zis ees" instead of "this is," for instance). When Farta asks him about this, Artiste replies, "Since monolith come, I become French." Although, of course, it is unclear - in fact, doesn't seem to be the case - if the words Farta and Tago are "grunting" are even English in the first place. But if they're not, then how could Artiste speak English words with an accent? Given that the novel frequently engages in Playing with a Trope of various forms, it's possible this could be one more example of that. It's also worth noting, given all the other often subtle references the author makes to evolutionary paleontology (even as he - apparently intentionally, according to comments he's made - incorrectly pluralizes "Homo habilis" as "Homo habilii") that Artiste's "transformation" into French is as much a reference to cave paintings - the oldest known human art, found in several famous sites throughout France - as it is a reference to the stereotype that the French are artists.
- SCP Foundation: Captain Dmitri Arkadeyevich Strelnikov talks like your standard Russian movie bad guy. Goes even further in his masterpiece of Black Comedy, Killing The Enemies And His Family Too.
So you are decides to join MTF-Epsilon 5, "Red Dawn"? Welcome! I am glads that you choose to be interest in this team. But I warns you, is not all fun and game. Being combat soldier is not for everyone, and hopesfully this guide is explain some of this to you to helps you make sure this is really what you want.
- Speedy Gonzales and Pepe Le Pew shorts in Looney Tunes are essentially always set in Spain and France, but everyone speaks English with bad Spexican/French accents.
- Lampshaded by The Simpsons in a retelling of Joan of Arc, where everyone is speaking in French accents, peppered with French words. Lou gets confused and calls Chief Wiggum on it.
Lou: Well you keep switching back between French and English.
- While the trope was averted in "The Crepes of Wrath", it was played awfully straight in the Latin American dub, with all the French substituted with French-accented Spanish. The gendarme couldn't understand Bart because of his accent rather than his speaking a different language. The Quebec French dub, obviously, kept the French and also had the gendarme unable to understand Bart's accent, but there it made more sense, with the gendarme's trouble with Bart's Quebec accent being more realistic.
- This was standard practice on Pinky and the Brain.
- Sealab 2021 featured an obvious parody of Jacques Cousteau in one episode, whose "French" was actually English, with a ridiculous accent, spoken very slowly. "Eet teaaars open ze huuuuul lahk ah teaaar oh-pen aa croissaaaaaaaant!" "What did he say?" "I don't know, it's in French!"
- Lampshaded in the South Park episode "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants." A group of Afghan children decide to help out Stan and the gang. When one of them points out that this decision makes no sense, another replies, "Dude, we're all speaking English right now! How much sense does that make?" The trope is also averted in the episode, as all the Afghan characters speak grammatically correct Farsi throughout the episode, albeit with Iranian (rather than Afghan) accents. Osama himself, however, just says "derka derka Mohammad jihad."
- Also used, straight, in "Ginger Cow". Kyle is called to the principle's office to "translate" for a group of men who came to South Park from Israel, despite the fact he does not speak Hebrew. The men can understand the others perfectly fine, but speak in a slightly stereotypical Jewish accent which of course makes it so the principal and Mr. Mackey cannot understand what they're saying at all.
- Skwisgaar Skwigelf and Toki Wartooth of Metalocalypse always speak broken English rather than Swedish or Norwegian, respectively. This makes sense around the other (American) band members. Even though Scandinavian languages are closely related, they probably communicate better using a shared second language than trying to decipher each others' native languages. However, for some reason, Skwisgaar continues speaking English when he goes back to Sweden and moves in with his mother and stepfather.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends:
Bloo: Luckily I speak French fluently and for a small fee plus gratuity I'll teach you phrases necessary for survival. Repeat after me: EXCUUUUSE ME MADAME, THERRRE IS PERRFUUUME IN THE HOUSE-PLAIT!
- All the Italian characters in the Futurama episode "The Duh-Vinci Code" speak English that comes straight out of the Chico Marx Accent School. Since the only Italian characters with speaking roles are a robot built by Leonardo da Vinci, and Leonardo himself, who is actually an alien, this makes slightly more sense than it might...
- This is used throughout the "Peabody's Improbable Histories" segments of Rocky and Bullwinkle. The first segment implies that this is the result of some brand of Translator Microbes embedded in the Wayback Machine: Peabody travels back in time to ancient Rome, hears everyone speaking Latin, and then makes an adjustment and they're all speaking English instead.
- Disney's Pocahontas. Apart from a handful of words, all the native Americans speak English, and only the native American men have a sort of generic "Indian" accent. Pocahontas magically learns to speak English herself, but consistently speaks to her father in English, who maintains the accent even after addressing a crowd of English settlers in English.
- On Phineas and Ferb, the Russian cosmonauts speak to each other in accented English.
- In the Garfield and Friends episode "Learning Lessons", Billy Buddy Bear interupts Garfield when he asks Odie if he wants his picture painted by saying that "he is not speaking Italian, but English with a bad Italian accent". They then proceed by telling the viewers how to say "Please let me have some pickles!" in Italian.
- This was played around with in the VeggieTales episode "Dave and the Giant Pickle." The French peas, playing the role of the Philistines spoke in their normal English with a French accent, but everything they said was subtitled as though they were actually speaking a foreign language.