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Misplaced Accent

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"My Buddhist monk will lose the cockney accent."

Unless the actors are Not Even Bothering with the Accent, a character that is supposed to be from a specific country or region will usually speak with a non-standard accent (relative to what language is being spoken) to reflect this fact. Often, however, this accent will be completely wrong for the character's supposed origin. This may happen because they did not take the trouble to find out what the accent should be like, or assumed the audience would not know or care.

A variation of As Long as It Sounds Foreign, it can be quite jarring to those who are familiar with whatever language or dialect is supposed to be native to the speaker. The Queen's Latin is an example of this if it is used in a work produced outside Britain. Sometimes caused by Faux Fluency.


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  • Compare the Meerkat: Oleg was raised by two meerkats with thick Russian accents, then moved to Africa, living with Ayana, a meerpup who has only ever lived in Africa. Despite this, when they both begin to talk, they speak with English accents (presumably the natural accent of their voice actors, as it's a British campaign).

    Anime & Manga 
  • The anime Night Raid 1931 features (historical) British diplomat Victor Bulwer-Lytton in one episode. The actor was clearly a native speaker of English, but he spoke with a distinct North American accent. Also, native residents of Shanghai were apparently speaking Mandarin Chinese rather than the local dialect of the Wu language.
  • Negi Springfield in the Negima! anime sounds nothing like a Welsh kid in either the original Japanese or the English language dub. In the English language dub, it sounds like an American doing an impression of a "proper" English accent. In the Japanese original, it is a case of Anime Accent Absence.
  • Darker than Black featured in one episode an Israeli otaku who, for some obscure reason, spoke with an accent that sounded almost American.
  • Durarara!!: Semyon Brezhnev is supposed to speak with a Russian accent, but his voice actor instead imitates an American one.
  • Pepe Iglesias from Megalo Box is supposed to be Mexican, but speaks with a European Spanish accent instead of a Mexican Spanish one.

    Films — Animation 
  • Marie from The Aristocats was voiced by Louise "Liz" English. Since the film mainly takes place in Paris, France, Marie has a British accent which is strange since her mother has a French accent and her brothers Toulouse and Berlioz have American accents. Her voice actor Louise is English and later became one of the Hill's Angels in The Benny Hill Show. Marie's voice in the film sounds like a mix between a British accent and a Mid-Atlantic accent.
  • In Saludos Amigos, José Carioca is voiced by a Brazilian voice actor and sounds authentically Brazilian. Unfortunately, his accent is distinctly Paulista (from São Paulo) instead of the expected Carioca (from Rio de Janeiro).
  • All of the adults in How to Train Your Dragon have strong Scottish accents, despite them clearly being Nordic.
  • In-Universe in Your Name. When Mitsuha is inhabiting Taki's body, Taki's friends note that he's speaking in a country dialect rather than like the Tokyoite he's supposed to be.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Federico Fellini's film La Dolce Vita, Swedish actress Anita Ekberg plays American blonde bombshell Sylvia. Her accent is unlikely to fool anyone familiar with U.S. English.
  • In the Scandinavian co-produced biopic Hamsun, Norwegian author Knut Hamsun and his equally Norwegian wife, Marie, were played by Swedish actor Max von Sydow and Danish actress Ghita Nørby, respectively. Neither made any attempt to speak Norwegian, but both spoke instead in their native languages.
  • In A Dangerous Method the two main actors use British accents despite the fact that they are portraying Austrian Sigmund Freud and Swiss Carl Jung. On top of it, Keira Knightley portrays a Russian using a German accent.
  • In Jan Guillou's book Ondskan ("Evil") there's a poor Finnish girl who has come to Sweden as a guestworker and speaks Swedish with a bad Funetik Aksent. In the Film of the Book she's played by an actress who speaks in one of the poshest upper-crust accents to be found in Finland.
  • In My Life as a Dog, brothers Ingemar and Erik inexplicably have very different accents — Gothenburg and Stockholm respectively. Also, Gunnar, supposedly from Smaland, has a strong Gothenburg accent as well.
  • In The Dark Knight, the villain Lau (played by Singaporean actor Chin Han) speaks Mandarin (with a Singaporean accent, to boot) when he would more likely speak Cantonese if he's from Hong Kong.
  • In the film version of Gorky Park, Michael Apted decided that all the Russian characters (which is to say, almost all the characters, since the film's set in Russia) should speak with British accents. This greatly annoyed William Hurt, who'd spent a lot of time perfecting a Russian accent for the film.
  • In the cult 80's slasher Prom Night, the majority-Canadian cast makes no attempt to hide their accents despite the film supposedly taking place in Ohio.
  • Trading Places plays this for comedy when the heroes all disguise themselves as foreigners. Ophelia apparently gets mixed up and pretends to be Swedish even though she's wearing German lederhosen. Her baffled conspirators call her out in this in the middle of the con, but it's too late to contradict herself.
  • This trope gives away the Englishman Hicox pretending to be German in Inglourious Basterds. A random German soldier notices that his accent is peculiar. Hicox tries to explain it away by claiming he was raised in a small, Swiss mountain town.
  • In the 1939 western Destry Rides Again, German actress Marlene Dietrich plays a character with the name of "Frenchy", not changing her own accent in the slightest. Considering what most of Germany was up to in 1939, this is somewhat understandable.
  • Done on purpose (and hilariously) at the conclusion of The Pest: Pestario Vargas (John Leguizamo), who speaks with a passable American accent throughout the film (when he's not imitating other characters, of course), dresses up as a "German Ambassadorrrrr" and tries a Just a Stupid Accent attempt at German - but of course the Trilling Rs cause him to come off as upper-class Spanish. The Nazi villain tries to point this out as the police are dragging him away ("He's not even German!") note , but of course nobody listens.
  • O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill is supposed to be fluent in Japanese. Her actress, Lucy Liu, speaks it with an American accent. She is established to have American heritage, and she will decapitate you if you bring that up in a negative way.
  • In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Simmons' bodygurd Durch says "dankeschön" (German for "thanks a lot") with a very nasal French accent.
  • In Allied, Max's French is supposed to be very good, and Marianne is only worried that he sounds like he was from Quebec (which may clue people that he is a spy). Brad Pitt actually sounds like a plain old American struggling with French.
  • Hard Target attempts to pass off Jean-Claude Van Damme's Belgian accent as a Cajun accent.
  • The Professional: Leon is an Italian immigrant to America, but he's played by Jean Reno, a Frenchman of Spanish decent who speaks English with a rather thick French accent.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger's famous Austrian accent is often unexplained, but when it is explained, it sometomes doesn't match the explanation:
    • Commando passing his Austrian accent as an East-German accent, despite sounding not even remotely German.
    • Red Heat passes it off as Russian. Arnold, to his credit, does change it up a bit and actually makes an attempt to sound Russian, but it's still very noticeably his Austrian accent.
  • High and Tight: Shane Olsen, in contrast to his two American brothers, has a thicker "noo yawk" accent. This was apparently an ad-lib by his actor Paul Sparkes in his first key scene, meaning they couldn't change it afterwards.
  • Mrs. Miniver was set in England but filmed in America. Walter Pidgeon and Teresa Wright were American, so their characters' accents sound closer to mid-Atlantic.
  • The film version of Flower Drum Song was the first Hollywood film to have an all-Asian cast and naturally there was a mix of various Asian backgrounds playing Chinese and Chinese-American characters. The most egregious is Japanese actress Miyoshi Umeki playing the Chinese immigrant Mei Li - yet with her Japanese accent front and centre. Conversely, Linda Low was born and raised in San Francisco — but her actress Nancy Kwan was Eurasian from Hong Kong, and thus Linda has a mixture of English and Chinese in her accent.
  • Hui Fei of Shanghai Express speaks with a Mid-Atlantic accent due to being played by American born Anna May Wong (who got vocal training at Cambridge to lose her California accent). The character appears to be born and raised in China.
  • Anna May Wong again in Java Head, playing a Chinese princess from the 1800s. Due to her having perfect English, it's probable that she got that accent from her tutor.
  • Midsommar takes place mostly in northern Sweden, but every Swedish character speaks with a southern dialect.
  • My Summer of Love takes place in Yorkshire, but Tamsin's actress Emily Blunt is from Wandsworth. Her family are said to be upper middle class, but her parents are heard speaking with slightly posher Yorkshire accents - so we can only assume Tamsin picked her accent up at boarding school.
  • The film version of Memoirs of a Geisha. Michelle Yeoh was the only one of the lead actresses who already spoke English, and so used her natural Malaysian accent for Mameha (who is Japanese). Gong Li and Ziyi Zhang had the surreal experience of learning English for their roles, but also speaking it with a Japanese accent (they are both Chinese).
  • Viggo Tarasov, a Russian gang boss in John Wick, speaks with the Swedish accent of his actor Michael Nyqvist. His Dumbass Teenage Son Iosef speaks American-accented English, but he has the excuse of growing up in America.
  • 2012, when showing Rio de Janeiro suffering Monumental Damage, averts the usual Brazilians speaking Spanish, but the broadcaster has a noticeable Portuguese accent.

  • Harry Potter has the Funetik Aksent of Viktor Krum and other Bulgarian characters (such as the Minister for Magic) written as something more closely resembling Russian or even German accent. It has W pronounced as V (which would be absent if the accents were to be realistic) and the "th" sound pronounced as S or Z (it's commonly approximated to T/D instead).
  • Wuthering Heights likewise gives Joseph an exaggerrated Funetik Aksent that no one else in the book has. He's from the same area as everyone else and, although he's a servant, the other servant character Nelly Dean doesn't speak that way. Adaptations tend to give him a regular Oop North accent.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel's third season antagonist Holtz is given a backstory hailing from York, and his wife and daughter make an appearance in flashback. All three have RP accents (quite impeccably done on the part of South African actress Kasha Kropinski as little Sarah) when Oop North would be more appropriate for said location.
  • Band of Brothers - Doc Roe is half-Cajun, but he speaks with a more general southern accent. His actor Shane Taylor admitted that in real life, he probably didn't speak as he's depicted in the show.
  • Bones: Squintern Arastoo Vaziri faked a Middle-Eastern accent in order to justify his devout Muslim-ness to the other characters, pretending he's fresh off the boat from Iran, but the accent he uses is Jordanian rather than Iranian. At one point he loses his temper and speaks without the accent, then confesses. Bones is not surprised.
    Cam: Were you guys aware that Arastoo doesn't really have an accent?
    Booth: Yeah, he does. Yeah, it's thicker than Achmed the rug merchant. [whispering to Brennan] Was that racist? It sounded racist.
    Brennan: I knew that despite the fact that Arastoo said he was Iranian, his accent was Jordanian.
    Cam: Don't you find it odd that he was faking an Arab accent of any kind?
    Brennan: Iranian isn't actually Arab.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Barney performs an in-universe example, claiming to be Swedish but talking with a French accent.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Frenchman Jean-Luc Picard speaks with a British accent. His brother speaks with a completely different British accent. Supposedly Patrick Stewart did try to employ a French accent in early screen tests but couldn't get it to sound convincing or consistent enough and gave it up as a bad job before they got to filming the actual pilot episode. Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard demonstrates when he goes undercover; Season 2 explains that the Picards lived in the UK for many generations before reclaiming the vineyards.
  • Friends:
    • Joey Tribbiani evidently had vocal training to learn how to do an American Southern accent for a play about the American Civil War. However, due to it being Joey, it ends up coming out as a Jamaican accent.
      Joey: The south will rise again, 'mon!
    • In-universe in an episode where Monica and Rachel discover that Ross has been faking an English accent for his new university class. When Monica is introduced as his sister, she tries to Troll him by putting on a ridiculous Irish accent.
  • Highlander: Methos. Fans often wondered why a 5,000 year old man ended up speaking with Peter Wingfield’s British accent. True he’s very well-traveled, but but he claims not to remember much of his early years and we don’t know his origin. Still, given his age compared to how long English has been around, many feel it still doesn’t really make sense.
  • Hope & Faith's titular Faith had the opposite problem to Joey, mentioned above. Whenever she tries another accent, it always comes out sounding like a Southern Belle. Even when she's trying to be Indian!
  • One episode of Reno 911! saw Officer Garcia going undercover as a migrant worker to expose a farming operation suspected of using illegal immigrant. Unfortunately for him, he was out of practice with faking a Mexican accent; as one of his fellow officers comments, he ends up sounding somewhat Swedish. (It doesn't help that Garcia would have difficulty physically passing for Mexican as well, being played by the white Argentinian Carlos Alazraqui. Doubly ironic in that Garcia doesn't speak a lick of Spanish, while Alazraqui is fluent).
  • An episode of the Chinese sitcom I Love My Family features an American character played by a Swedish girl, Simone Giertz, who spoke American English with a noticeable Swedish accent. Ironically, Giertz later gained internet fame in Youtube videos after her accent had faded to the point that she could comfortably pass for American.
  • Young Sheldon: The pilot finally explains why Sheldon doesn't have a Texas drawl. In narration, he explains that he switched to a mid-Atlantic accent because "Nobel Prize winners ought not be orderin' tater tots."
  • Orange Is the New Black had Lorna Morello (Yael Stone) speaking in a widely-mocked, garbled accent that appeared to be a mix of New York, New Jersey, and Boston. Stone is Australian, while her character was supposed to be from Boston.
  • Frasier: Setting aside how realistic Daphne's Mancunian accent is, no attempt has been made to explain why her brother Simon appears to be Cockney. The finale features speaking roles for her other brothers Stephen (Received Pronounciation) and Michael (incomprehensible Scots).

  • According to Jessica of Fat, French and Fabulous, everyone from New York has a Brooklyn accent and everyone living prior to 1950 sounds like Winston Churchill.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Katarina Waters, when portraying Katie Lea Burchill, continued to speak in her own natural accent, which is quite Germanic and sounds like a cross between German and British RP (she was born and raised in Germany but wrestled in England for years). She was billed entirely from Chelsea, England because she debuted playing the Kayfabe sister of Paul Burchill.
  • Layla would be billed from Miami, Florida because she moved there. This is despite her speaking with an English accent, because she's originally from Chelsea. She did use something of an American accent early on in her career, but dropped that by around 2009-ish. She continued to be billed as though she were a Florida native, even though ring announcers have sometimes said "now residing in" to account for immigration.

    Video Games 
  • In Back to the Future: The Game, Trixie Trotter speaks with a thick New York/New Jersey accent, even though she's later revealed to be a Canadian from Winnipeg (and presumably stayed there until at least her young adult years, seeing as she posed for saucy pictures there). The accent was likely chosen due to Trixie's status as the stereotypical moll of a mob boss, which are commonly associated with the New York City area in American media.
  • The game Resident Evil 4 is apparently set in a Spanish-speaking European country... where they speak Mexican Spanish.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution:
    • Arie van Bruggen is repeatedly called "the Dutchman" and uses "windmill" as an alias yet speaks in a Caribbean accent. Though there is a fan theory that he is from Suriname, a former Dutch colony in northern South America. This could explain the Caribbean accent and (sort of) Dutch ancestry.
    • "Jaron Namir" (Or rather should be "Yaron Namir") is clearly meant to be a Hebrew-Israeli name. In game, he speaks with an Arab accent. (Well, sort of.)
    • From the original Deus Ex: Lucius DeBeers, the de jure head of The Illuminati, is supposed to be an old money aristocrat from southern England. From your brief interactions with him in the game, though, his accent sounds more southern US than anything. This is rectified in Mankind Divided, where he has an actual, if feint, British accent.
  • Civilization:
    • While having the civilization leaders speak their native languages in Civilization V was a nice touch, several people criticized some of their accents as historically inaccurate: Napoleon speaks unaccented French despite his real-life counterpart having a thick Corsican accent, George Washington has a Bill Clinton-esque American accent despite being born in Virginia at the time that it was a British colony, Catherine the Great speaks perfect Russian despite being born as and raised by Germans and Queen Elizabeth (I) speaks with a posh modern accent that certainly did not exist in her own time. Some of it is justified because nobody now knows how this particular language is supposed to sound (e.g. Ancient Egyptian).
    • VI noticed this, and went to great lengths to avert it. Leaders now speak with the closest language available to their own, including the ancient ones. For instance, Tomyris of Scythia speaks Ossetian, a direct descendant of Scythian, and Cleopatra actually does speak Ancient Egyptian (Middle Egyptian, which is still anachronistic but at least a direct ancestor). In the case of leaders who were recorded, such as Theodore Roosevelt and John Curtin of Australia, the voice actors even do their best to mimic the leader's actual voice.
  • In Genshin Impact, Xinyan, a character from Liyue which is basically fantasy China, has a deep, deep southern accent within the English dub. Her accent is so unlike the rest of the cast, it makes Xinyan stand out to the fandom. Whilst some find her accent to be unique to her character, others just found it bizarre or immersion-breaking.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Liquid Snake. He was born in the US, taken to England at the age of three or four, and escaped his (presumably British) caretakers at the age of about six or seven, learning multiple languages. After that, he lived in Africa, and was presumably travelling the world until joining the SAS at the age of about seventeen. Then he spent several years in the Gulf, coming out fluent in Arabic and with some culturally Middle Eastern ideas (such as a fondness for hunting jackals). Then he spends the next nine years working for the Americans. All this and yet as a child, he speaks in a London accent, and as an adult, he speaks in the exaggerated RP of an Evil Brit. Is it Liquid's intentional affectation?
    • Strangelove in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was born and raised in Manchester, but has a posh UK Southern accent (performed by an American voice actress). To be fair, the accent itself is convincing - just ill fitting.
  • Quite a few gods in Smite speak with the wrong accents, when they bother to sound anything other than American. Chiron and Athena- Greek- speak with Scottish and Russian accents, respectively. Tyr- Norse- also speaks with a Scottish accent. Reaches egregious levels with actual Celtic figures Artio and Cuchulainn, who both have Scottish accents even though she's a goddess from Gaul- Celtic France- and he's a demigod from Ireland.
  • The Scout of Team Fortress 2 is from South Boston, but has a stereotypical Brooklyn accent. Word of God stated this and how fake all the other accents in the game are is deliberate because the characters are supposed to be in the style of how people thought foreigners were in The '60s.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition:
    • Due to only having two accent options recorded for all the Inquisitors to use (British and American), a Dalish elf Inquisitor will come off as this, as the Dalish tend to speak with Welsh accents.
    • Dwarves who were born and raised in human lands, such as party member Varric, will still speak in the same American accent as dwarves from Orzammar, even if their families haven't lived there in generations. In comparison, city elves speak in the dominant accent of their country: British for Ferelden, Spanish for Antiva, etc.
  • As pointed out by Ross Scott of Ross's Game Dungeon, Professor Ludwig von Tökkentäkker of CarnEvil is clearly German, gratuitously so in fact, yet speaks with a very thick French accent for some reason.
  • In Road Redemption, the biker gang members all have Australian accents (likely in reference to Mad Max), but the road signage, pavement markings, direction of traffic, and vegetation such as cacti imply that the setting is in the western USA.
  • In Driver, Ali, though a New Yorker, has a British RP accent.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • The hitRECord story Moonflowers is set in Ireland. However, Ogma O'Luain has an English accent since he went to school in London. He states that he "needed to stop sounding Irish." Since his oldest grandson is in his twenties, that would put Ogma in the time-frame where the Irish frequently adopted British accents to avoid discrimination.

    Web Videos 
  • The Tenth Doctor in Epic Rap Battles of History speaks in a slippy RP accent, presumably because that's easier for a Fake Brit to rap in rather than lack of canon knowledge, because the impersonation of his Character Tics and other physical mannerisms is bang-on. The character in the original show speaks conspicuously in a thick London accent. In the video, when he regenerates into the Fourth Doctor, who does speak in RP, he speaks in a more neutral Southern English accent which is closer to what the canon Tenth Doctor uses (but with the American pronunciation of the word 'pedophilic').

    Western Animation 
  • Minor Family Guy characters Santos and Pasqual are supposedly Portuguese fishermen yet speak in heavily accented Brazilian Portuguese.
  • South Park:
    • In "Crack Baby Athletic Association", Slash is revealed to be "Vunter Slaush", a parody on the Dutch Sinterklaas, complete with parody song. The problem? The name and song are in German, not Dutch...
    • Butters has a very strong Dallas accent (the new girl he pretended to be in "Marjorine" is even stated to be from Dallas). Yet he's lived in Colorado since he was at least four (as shown in "Preschool"), was born in Hawaii of all states (shown in "Going Native") and his parents only have a generic Mid-States accent (which means he couldn't have gotten it from them).
  • Raimundo from Xiaolin Showdown is from Brazil, but his accent sounds more Mexican than anything else—two countries that don't even speak the same language.
  • The giant pandas from The Garfield Show episode "Little Trouble in Big China" speak in Australian accents, despite living in China.
  • Blake and Mortimer: With the exception of Mortimer who is Scottish and has the right accent, the rest of characters, particularly the French and Japanese characters, are all speaking in a North American accent. The worst is Blake, who is Welsh, and yet sounds Transatlantic at best.

    Real Life 
  • Often happens with portrayals of historical characters who had an accent that is not widely known:
    • Napoléon Bonaparte came from an Italian family living in Corsica, and his contemporaries notes that his Corsican accent was so thick that he was often difficult to understand, yet he's usually depicted as speaking exactly the same as the other Frenchmen around him.
    • Adolf Hitler was born in Austria-Hungary and didn't move to Germany until he was 24. He thus had a distinct Austrian accent.
    • Josef Stalin was Georgian and grew up speaking the Georgian language, causing him to speak Russian with a thick Georgian accent. He rarely actually spoke in public because of this (and his squeaky voice), and would usually have his speeches read by an unseen voice actor.
    • Despite making Mandarin the official language of the People's Republic of China, Mao Zedong spoke it with heavy Xiang accent since he was from rural Hunan Province.
  • WWE: Kofi Kingston is from Ghana (West Africa) but uses (or did for a while) an accent more like he's from Jamaica. Ironically, his default accent sounds almost American.
  • A lot of students from non-English speaking countries will learn English from teachers who are from the Anglosphere - as a result they may sound British or American when speaking English:
    • Charlize Theron for example grew up in South Africa speaking Afrikaans and didn't learn English until she moved to America - therefore her accent sounds American.
    • Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem, Israel but since she moved with her parents to the United States when she was just three years old she has a noticeable American accent even when she's speaking Hebrew.
    • Mila Kunis and her family were Ukrainian Jews from Chernivtsi located deep within the Soviet Union. In fact, even when she moved to America she couldn't speak a single word of English and only became fluent in the language after watching The Price Is Right which she credits with learning it from show host Bob Barker speaking slowly enough for her to understand. Because Kunis had olive-brown skin (despite her Ukrainian roots) she was and still is often typecast as Ambiguously Brown characters in film.