(asked by Holly from the US)
Okay, so you’ve had a question about whether the French can recognize regional American accents BUT what do they think about an American accent when someone speaks French? I have friends living in France who have had several reactions–one man complimented her on her “charming” accent and another told a friend that she shouldn’t speak French so well because American accents are charming and hers wasn’t strong enough. So what…is she supposed to “dumb down” her French? Another said she should work more on getting rid of her accent because it was annoying. What’s the consensus?
The consensus is that there’s no consensus.
While the US has its share of connotations and stereotypes about foreign (and regional) accents, France doesn’t.
So, no we don’t have things similar to “oh, the French accent is so cute and so sexy.” And by the way, this cliché was and still is to this day one of the biggest mysteries I have ever encountered. What can anyone find anything sexy about a French accent in English? The only thing I “feel” when I hear a French accent in English (don’t get me wrong, I include mine here) is annoyance, and the only thing it connotes to me is lameness or even obsequiousness in some people.
So the American (and every other foreign accent in France) won’t connote anything special to most of the population except foreignness, or actually, they will connote very different things depending on people, their own personal history, their own personal ear, etc.
And some French people will find the accent charming, some other will find it annoying, and most won’t care.
Diane (from the US) asked basically the same question, but also asked:
What is the most annoying thing that they mispronounce? What comes off as cute, even though it’s completely wrong?
And I guess I’ll let any French speaker that want to respond do it, because I find myself unable to answer. Mostly because I’m quite numbed down to those kinds of things as I’ve been around Americans in France (and French speaking Americans in the US) for too long, and I ceased paying attention to that a long time ago (but I remember that when it was still a novelty to me, there were a few)