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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.

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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.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The anime Night Raid 1931 featured (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 Russian accent, but his voice actor insted imitates an American one.
  • 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.
  • Pepe Iglesias from Megalo Box is supposed to be Mexican, but speaks with a European Spanish accent instead of a Mexican Spanish one.

    Film - Animation 
  • Marie from The Aristocats was voiced by Louise 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 girls in Hill's Angels in The Benny Hill Show. Marie's voice in the film sounds a mix between a British accent mixed with a mid-atlantic accent.
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    Film - 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 foreigners. Jamie Lee Curtis's character 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 with an American accent.
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • 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).

    Live Action TV 
  • 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?
  • 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 doesn't. 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.
  • In 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 his stupidity it ends up coming out as a Jamaican accent.
  • 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.)
  • In 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Due to only having two accents recorded for all the Inquisitors to use in Dragon Age: Inquisition, (British and American), a Dalish elf Inquisitor will come off as this, as the Dalish tend to speak with Welsh accents.

    Web Original 
  • 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').
  • 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.
  • 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.
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    Western Animation 
  • Minor Family Guy characters Santos and Pasqual are supposedly Portuguese fishermen yet speak in heavily accented Brazilian Portuguese.
  • South Park:
    • In the episode "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.

    Real Life 
  • Often happens with portrayals of historical characters who had an accent that is not widely known:
    • Napoleon 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.
    • Stalin was Georgian and grew up speaking the Georgian language, causing him to speak Russian with a Georgian accent.
    • 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.

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