French accent?

Is there such a thing as a neutral accent? I have always dreamed of having a neutral accent, an accent that everybody could understand and accept but it seems that this is impossible. Despite my efforts, people from Quebec or from France always assume that I am from France. What’s more, even when I speak English, Anglophones tell me that my French accent is not that of Quebec but that of Europe. How can they possibly tell?

I always get asked if I landed from France. When I tell all these people that I am from Africa and I have lived in Quebec for over a decade now, they ask even more questions because they can’t figure how I can have such an accent even tough I never set foot in France.

Where does my accent come from?

Spirou, a cartoon imagined by Belgian editor, Jean Dupuis.
Spirou, a cartoon imagined by Belgian editor, Jean Dupuis.

My accent today is obviously influenced by my friends from Quebec – both from the French and the English speaking community – but at the core of my accent, there’s that little French European intonation that keeps coming back. This European accent is my past and even though I am not French (from Europe), this accent is my background.

I guess my subconscious is playing tricks with me because sometimes my accent automatically changes according to the person I’m speaking to and even according to my mood. I’m not the kind that likes to pretend to be someone else to appeal to the masses but  my accent really gets out of control. Sometimes I feel like I’m a counterfeit, disloyal to my culture, whatever culture that is…

There are many different factors that could explain someone’s accent but I don’t feel like getting into a linguistic essay so I’m going to choose a fun way to explain; cartoons. The cartoons that I watched growing up where produced or translated by French European companies. Like many children, I spent countless hours watching my favorite cartoons and I memorized their theme songs. Some of these songs still play in my mind sometimes and they no doubt greatly influence the way I pronounce most words.

If you want to come into my world, I invite you to listen to this playlist from my Youtube channel to hear the themes of some of the cartoons I grew up watching. Have fun!

Note: I couldn’t find the theme song for Mine de rien, but I found even better. A short clip of one of the episode to watch below:

Video sources:
Albert le 5e mousquetaire – ABsolument Dorothée
Bonjour les bébés – Chansons pour les tout petits
Caroline et ses amis – orikensan
Davy Crockett – orikensan
Julie et Stéphane – Koshiro Saeki
L’école des champions – Génération du Club Do
Les mondes engloutis – natea1982
Mine de rien – Imineo
Molierissimo – José Gomez
Père Castor – AllGeneriques
Rahan – La bonne époque
Sophie et Virgine – Intros12
Spirou – n4vis

Picture sources:

Spirou – Un petit coin de Francofolie
Caroline et ses amis – Au pays des cactus
Julie et Stéphane – Dalias
Rahan – Patrick Antoine 69
Note: The cover image with the dialogue box was edited by me, using Photoshop.