Jul 182008
(asked by Leah from… well, I assume she’s from Australia)

Also, I assume you want to know what French people think of the Aussie accent in French, not in English, right?

Just in case, I’ll answer both.

So, what do French people think of the Aussie accent when they hear an Australian speak English?

Well, most French people won’t recognize it as their knowledge of English rarely includes recognizing accents.
And as far as French people that have a good knowledge of English, I think it depends on their personal experience with English.
Personally, I think it sounds funny, but funny in a good way. (as opposed to the purely British accent that can sound funny in a bad way or in a “Ha! Ha!” way, depending of where it’s from in England).

And what do French people think of the Aussie accent when they hear an Australian speak French?

Mmmmm… I want to say: not much.

Let me explain. First, whereas in English regional accents are really important and they have lots of connotations, whether one is speaking about an English speaking region or a foreign region, it’s very different in France where accents don’t carry the same meanings.

For example, whereas in an English speaking fiction, the character’s accent will often be a big part of their characterization, in French every accent is wiped out, characters never have accents, unless the goal is to caricature them.

And in everyday life, we don’t have images such as “the French accent is so sexy” and such regarding foreign accents. Some individuals will find such an accent sexy, another one, stupid, etc. But at the level of the population, no such thing, it’s really a personal matter.

And as a consequence, especially because French people are usually not used to be near Australians, the Australian accent doesn’t really have any connotation, reputation nor stigma.

Now, wanting to please my readership, I did my research (understand: I happened to see this morning one of the two Australians that can speak French that I know) and here is what I got.

When I asked my Australian acquaintance this question he answered that first people are first perplexed by his accent, they can’t really point out where it’s from, so they ask. And when he answers, they never talk about his accent, but respond something along the line “but what are you doing in France?!” obviously surprised to meet an Australian so far from home.

It’ll be noted that this Australian has a very good French and it’s hard to tell where he’s accent is from. If I didn’t know he’s an Aussie, I’m not sure I could tell from his accent.
The other French speaking Aussie that I know doesn’t speak as well and definitely has an English speaker’s accent.

More Questions Answered:

  4 Responses to “What do French people think of the Aussie accent?”

  1. Hey David….

    In ref. to this question, I also have a question…
    When I speak in French and people from here (assuming that they are not only French, but African, No. African, etc.) they always ask me right away if I am English, rather than American.. My hubby says it’s mainly b/c they don’t distinguish the differences in accents of Anglophones… I myself can disting. and American accent in French right away… but not necessarily a British one.. It’s interesting… Also, how can I ‘shed’ my American accent when speaking in French? Just wondering… Leesa

  2. Easy for me, I lived a couple of years in Sydney, so recognizing an aussie accent among thousands, either in French or simply in English, is quite simple. By the way, I like it very much. In general, American or Australian accents are easier for us, French, to understand… !

  3. I lived/worked in NZ for a few months and then traveled through Oz for a few months so for me, I can tell those accents apart pretty quickly… I can also tell a South African accent immediately because it is SOOO distinct for me… I can sometimes tell the person- Oh… are you from Joburg— Capetown- Durban? I don’t know if there is a regional accent in each of these three major cities.. but for some reason, I was REALLY good at guessing the cities people were from… Also.. I can distinguish some Arabic accents- like Gulf, Moroccan, Algerian, Lebonese… and I can also distinguish an East Coast American accent IMMEDIATELY- but some other western/midwestern/southern states— NOT… I don’t have that much exposure… I am not very good at distinguishing French regional accents because I don’t know all the regions, nor their accents.. but I can hear a difference in accents when I hear people speak- just don’t know where they are from! Most of the French people I know speak English fluently and most of there accents are NOT French accents in Eng. but a mix of Brit/French… Anyhow.. it’s all interesting to me!
    Thanks for the response, Mr. Encyclopedia!!
    Have a nice day!

  4. I love Aussie accent when they speak english, its sounds so hot :3
    When they speak french, it’s like a british accent, no more.

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