Why Does a French Captain Have an English Accent?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Komack, Sep 11, 2013.

  1. Komack

    Komack Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Having spent the summer watching Star Trek TOS with my kids, we have started the Next Generation. They have three questions - none of which I can answer.

    (1) Why did Denise Crosby leave Star Trek

    (2) Why didn't they keep Dr. Pulaski?

    (3) If Picard is French, why does he have an English accent?

    As always, your answers are greatly appreciated and make me, in the eyes of my kids, look smart!
     
  2. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    Denise Crosby didn't think the writers were giving her character anything interesting to do in season one, so she wanted out so she could work on her movie career. The writers didn't fight her decision, and they wrote her off.

    The producers didn't think the character was working at all, and they didn't want yet ANOTHER new doctor for season 3, so they brought back Gates McFadden.

    Biggest mystery in the Trek universe! :lol:

    Many fans assume French became part of the British, and the people adopted the accent. Fun fact, Picard's brother and father also have English accents.

    Behind the scenes reason, the producers thought Patrick Stewart had an awesome British accent and didn't want to have him change it!
     
  3. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Which worked out FANTASTICALLY for her. ;)
     
  4. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah she dropped Trek as quick as she practically could, then spent the next six years trying to get back into it.
     
  5. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Her argument was she wasn't being used much beyond "Hailing frequencies open, captain" which, well, goes for pretty much the entire cast who wasn't Picard or Data in the first couple of seasons before the show hit a stride. She was a young actress whose ego was larger than her common sense.

    You don't quit a job you're contracted to do because you think you can make it big elsewhere. You HAVE a job. A several-year contract on a show with a large built-in fan base. Suck it up and keep opening those hailing frequencies. Don't be a 20-something prima donna, think you're bigger and better and try and get out of a contract because that's not going to look good to future employers who read "Signed a multi-year contract. Wasn't happy. Backed out before the end of the first year."

    I've met Denise Crosby and she's a nice, friendly, woman and I really don't mean to sound so harsh on her younger self but she really didn't think and/or got some bad advice. Worf wasn't being used much, Troi wasn't being used much and both of them toughed it out and look what they became.

    It wasn't a smart decision on her part and that's not coming from hindsight that's coming from what should just be natural good decision making. "Don't quit a job unless you have a new one lined up, don't back out of a contract you're locked into."
     
  6. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Became part of the British what? Did future Britain acquire a Second Empire?

    The matter of Picard's accent comes up repeatedly. For one thing, imagine Patrick Stewart doing a French accent. It would make viewers think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
     
  7. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not surprised the producers didn't fight to keep Denise Crosby on the show like some other producers of done in the past with other departing actors. I think at that point they realized they had way too many main cast members. Also this never bugged me like some other Trek actor departures, since Crosby herself wanted out.

    Dropping down from nine to eight main characters ended up being a good thing since it gave Worf more to do. It didn't hit the sweet spot until it dropped to seven, after Wesley left.
     
  8. picardo

    picardo Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Très bonne question, mon ami!
     
  9. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    The simply reacquired the lands lost by King John and then said, what the hell, lets take the whole thing.

    Why is it so hard to believe that a Frenchman could learn to speak English with an English accent?
     
  10. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Interesting comment about Worf. On my last rewatch of TNG, one thing I found fascinating was that it seemed like the writers had effectively neutered Tasha from the very moment they conceived Worf. We must remember that Worf wasn't originally part of the TNG crew, and Michael Dorn was in fact a very late addition to the regular cast (many of the early cast photocalls did not feature the character), but the lure of using this 'Klingon Marine' meant that even as early as season one, the writers were using Worf in Tasha's role. For example, "Hide & Q". Tasha makes a stand against Q and is immediately whisked off back to the Enterprise to spend the entire episode sulking on the bridge, while what should be her dramatic role in the script is taken by Worf, who gets to fight Q's vicious animal things. When things like that were happening, it's no surprise Crosby was upset... but on the other hand, I can't blame the writers for doing it, because Worf was quite simply too interesting a character to waste on a minor role.

    IMO what they could have done (and maybe would have done, if Tasha had survived the first season) would be to intergrate their roles more fully. There were hints of this in season one, but I reckon later producers like Michael Piller could have better written them as a team who both have a role in keeping the Enterprise secure. Unfortunately season one just didn't have that kind of sophistication in the writing. It was her or the Klingon, and the Klingon won. ;)
     
  11. Mario de Monti

    Mario de Monti Captain Captain

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    There has been this rather lenghty discussion on that not too long ago. But I´m afraid, you´ll find no short and simple answer there :lol:
     
  12. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    This comes up so often it deserves its own FAQ. :lol:

    Real reason: Patrick Stewart has a fantastic voice, and making him do a fake French accent would have been a terrible idea.

    Most reasonable in-universe reason: Most Europeans learn British English, not American English. With practice, it's entirely possible to lose one's own accent, and become fully bilingual. Most probably, Picard is fully bilingual in both French and English: he speaks with a La Barre (Frainc-Comtou?) accent in French, and with a British accent in English.
     
  13. lurok

    lurok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Have no idea. She was eaten by a tar pit. Or something. Maybe she just thought at time: this is really silly.

    Stupid PTB wanted that other one back. And have no taste. I'd have Muldaur in any Trek series any day.

    There are many mysteries in life. This is one of them. Or, he was sent to English boarding school.

    Janeway was originally French-Canadian.
     
  14. chrinFinity

    chrinFinity Captain Captain

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    Picard's accent can also be attributed to the Universal Translator (hypothetically). I'm not kidding, think about it: the UT doesn't use a generic voice, in fact more often than not the UT assigns emotion, tone, inflection, and other unique qualities to the speaker.

    For example, the Gorn in IAMD who glurped and snarled in his native language, while the Defiant's UT rendered a deep menacing angry hissing reptilian man's voice speaking Fed Standard in short abrupt aggressive sentences.

    There were the Antedeans from Manhunt who (let's face it) didn't really have lips that worked the same way ours do, and their native language just sounded like high pitched gasping and weird throat noises... But sure enough, out of nowhere we hear the UT render some of their speech in Fed Standard, but we hear it in a distorted cartoon fish man voice.

    In cases of humanoid speakers, such as the Skrreea from Sanctuary whom we first hear speaking their native language until the UT caught up, their voices rendered in Fed Standard sound like the same voice they had when speaking in their native tongue... For obvious real-world reasons. But interestingly, the accents sometimes change.

    I also submit that the UT has been seen to take significant liberties with the source material (while preserving intent of the speaker), to the point that we have seen aliens express themselves through the Starfleet UT using unmistakeably terran-centric expressions and idioms, even in cases like the Delta Quadrant where it's not possible to explain it away as "maybe the alien learned Standard" (Arcturis notwithstanding) or "they've talked to humans before." This would be impossible unless those idioms were actually supplied by the UT, making it more of a Universal Interpreter.

    We also saw the Japanese soldier in The 37's explicitly declare to the TV audience that from his individual perspective, he, and everyone else present including our heroes were "speaking Japanese." To us the guy sounded like a perfect English speaker with an American accent. And it's proof positive that languages need not be from different planets for the UT to engage itself.

    It's not that much of a stretch to imagine that Picard might actually be leading the Enterprise "in French." In this scenario, for whatever reason, the UT opts to render the voice of their older, articulate, educated, commanding, well-read, Shakespeare-loving stick-in-the-mud French Captain with a stereotypical English accent.

    For that type of nuanced, enhanced output from the UT (in-universe) to happen, it would have to be a combination of
    1) being derived and extrapolated from clues in the source communication input, and
    2) considering the context of the party it's translating *for,* whether it be the crew, other aliens, or a hypothetical TV audience just beyond the fourth wall... a TV audience steeped in cultural prejudice and bias that tells them Brits sound smart.

    Just a thought.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  15. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    A long thought. :p
     
  16. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    I wonder how the UT rendered Riker's imitation of Picard's accent back into a language that Picard understands (Pegasus).
     
  17. TheRoyalFamily

    TheRoyalFamily Commodore Commodore

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    Didn't Data or someone once say that French was a dead language? A French accent (or any "foreign" accent) comes from French pronunciation of similar letter combinations and the like, which the speaker can't/won't get right. If no one spoke French, even in France, they wouldn't have French accents.

    Russian is apparently not a dead language, since there are still folks with Russian accents, even in TNG (the Rozhenkos - speaking of, I guess Worf either learned American English at Minsk, or whatever, as a kid in school; or he doesn't even speak English at all in TNG, and that's just the UT talking). Apparently the UT doesn't take out accents, so anyone speaking with a non-American English accent I assume is actually speaking real English.

    I blame WWIII.
     
  18. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

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    Yes she did. I wish she had stuck around. I really liked her character. Much better then Worf as a matter of fact.
     
  19. chrinFinity

    chrinFinity Captain Captain

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    I'm sure the look on his face, the tone of his voice, and wiggling the doll as he spoke was enough to get the message across. :)
     
  20. chrinFinity

    chrinFinity Captain Captain

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    Season 1 was Data's "Pranking" phase. Can't trust any historical "facts" uttered by Data during that time period.