Texas, Kentucky, Bondy… But where does this Kylian Mbappé accent come from in English?

Kylian Mbappé and his remarkable mastery of Spanish in post-match interviews with PSG-Real had made his Madrid groupies ravenous. Finally before the drama, the betrayal, the denial, the “mercenary, never again in my club”, and all this nonsense which will be shattered no later than next summer. Unanimous verdict, at the time: the Frenchman, activated by the strong Argentine colony of PSG, spoke Iberian with a slight accent from Buenos Aires, without going so far as to hiss all the Ys that come back.

What to say, then, about this priceless video of the world champion questioned in English by EA sports on his notes in the game FIFA 2023, sequence shot during his summer vacation in the United States, which is already prancing to more than 2 million views in a few hours ? Closing your eyes to focus on the sound, to a reimagining of Michael J. Fox’s masterful Donald Trump impersonation heard recently. This time ? A slightly awkward parody of 50 Cent or something. “Noowwwwwwwwww defeeeeeeeeeeeeeence meeeeen”, detailed?

Mbappé, whom we have already heard speak English a few times without panicking more than that about his manners, here is forcing his “West Coast” accent to death, where the idea we have of it, because good, English is not our best asset to succeed in life. We therefore turned to specialists in the matter, at least English teachers, often bilingual, and having crossed the US from top to bottom or almost, to find out whether or not Kylian Mbappé has checked too much. Friday night lights between two greens with PSG.

“We wonder where the guy comes from”

Raphaël, our first witness, listens to the video blind. First impression ? “We wonder where the guy comes from. First, we think of an African who lives in the United States. He tries to speak American sometimes. Then there are intonations reminiscent of the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica… It’s a mix of all that. »

We move on with Etienne, who takes to the direct game: “Give me time to pass through this filter of bad pronunciation to tell you more. Behind it, it’s almost a linguist’s thesis. “So there is a very strong French accent, with African intonations like you can hear there. But nobody can tell it sounds like Tennessee or Texas because most sounds are mispronounced anyway. It forces serious on the black American intonation, it is a standard accent, not regional but rather community. »

Like a game, in a way, since in his other interviews given to English-language media in recent years, Kylian Mbappé’s accent is much less worked, adds Etienne: “Usually, he has a very French accent, with a hint of a Spanish accent, as if he had learned certain words from a Spanish speaker who spoke to him in English. ” Damien, our third man, bounces back half-jokingly: “There is something in the voice of a second-rate actor in the Narcos series. A Colombian American, what. Metaphor fitting with this Instagram photo of the wag disguised as a “gringo” a few months ago?

“Yeah, there’s always a hint of African elocution that comes out of I don’t know where,” retorts Etienne. It can evoke a bit of a British West Indies accent sometimes, with this fast flow and these flat vowels, but for me it’s the mixture of his influences that gives it… Unless he learned English in the north of London, in contact with the descendants of Jamaicans. »

What is amusing, finally, in the case, is to see, or rather to listen to Mbappé play with different accents in a language that he only imperfectly masters, a detail that makes academics of all kinds jump. hair. “What I say to candidates who pass the English course is to show as consistent as possible, underlines Raphaël. I take the example of a foreigner who would pass the French Capes and who would begin his oral with a Marseille accent before ending with the Quebec accent. It wouldn’t make sense. Better a neutral accent, even if it sounds French”. Good Kylian, it sent not good for this conversion to an English teacher at 40 years old. It’s stupid, there are free places.

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