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Johnny Depp – Fake English Accent or Foreign Accent Disease?

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Johnny Depp recently did an interview where he spoke about his upcoming role as Tonto in the new Lone Ranger movie. In that interview, a lot of people — including quite a few physicians — were shocked at his strange English-sounding accent and hints of other accents in his speech.

Seems as though there is no known reason for Depp to have acquired an English accent because when he lived abroad he didn’t live in England, he lived in France, and while he did adopt an English accent for Pirates of the Caribbean, that was simply his job as an actor playing a part. Many actors have to either use or lose an English accent, but in Depp’s case, a few doctors — one in particular — believe that the aging actor may have a disease called FAS, or Foreign Accent Syndrome.

FAS is a very rare brain disease where the victim emerges from some traumatic event with a foreign accent. Some doctor’s think that it’s a real disease and others think that victims are faking the accent for attention or some kind of mental illness. The disease did not exist until 1941, which is right about the time that most people throughout the world were exposed via motion pictures, of the various accents of the world, and this has many doctors wondering if perhaps the emergence of FAS is some kind of play acting. If this is true, Johnny Depp is either faking an accent for his own amusement or he has a brain disease.

“Johnny Depp is going through some kind of career crisis or aging process and, in my opinion, he is indeed suffering from Foreign Accent Syndrome or perhaps some variant of the disease,” said Dr. Jason Burns MD, a language pathologist and neurologist.

“If he was simply playing with the idea of speaking with an accent to seem more sophisticated or worldly, his accent would sound decidedly British, but in Depp’s case I think that his accent is a muddled mish-mash of several accents that are the result of some damage to the parts of the brain that control language skills and the pronunciation of certain syllabic sounds.

“The principal signature of FAS is that the accent seems odd or out of place. It might sound a little English and a little Irish and a bit Russian or German. In other words, it’s either a deliberate attempt at an accent but poorly executed, or it’s a brain malfunction. In Johnny Depp’s case, it is clear to the American ear that he has done a rather good job putting on his English accent for Jack Sparrow parts in Pirates of the Caribbean, but now that the acting is over and the real brain has taken control, there may be residual damage. The actor Johnny Depp can indeed speak very well with the accent of an English pirate, but the real Johnny Depp — Johnny Depp the man — cannot speak very well at all with an English accent. This is the hallmark sign of FAS and it will only get worse as he gets older.”

According to other experts, there is no cure for Foreign Accent Syndrome, and although a few of those afflicted have had brief remissions, the disease returns and the accent is either worse or completely different.

Foreign Accent Syndrome is very rare — less than 100 reported cases since 1941 — but it seems to be growing. Actress Kathleen Turner is another example of an actor who suffers from FAS, but her accent has no known derivation. One cannot tell if it’s English or Russian or French or related to any language spoken anywhere on the planet.

Madonna, an American pop singer who did live in England for many years, had a acquired an English accent and it was feared that she was either mentally ill or suffering from FAS. It was soon determined that she was faking an accent so as to sound sophisticated because she had deep-rooted insecurities about her aging face and body and the fact that she was an ordinary American living abroad. When her fake accent drew criticism from her fans, she dropped it and went back to speaking with just a hint of her native Detroit, Michigan USA accent.

“We are praying for Johnny Depp and we hope he can overcome this affliction,” said Sister Frances DeSalles, a nun in Ireland who works as a nurse for the deaf and mute. “Johnny Depp has brought so much joy to the world and to have him speaking like this is very sad and deeply disturbing. Perhaps if his American fans stood behind him and showed him the way, he would go back to his real voice. It would be a shame if his regular voice were to be lost forever.”

8 Comments
  1. Why would he fake his accent?
    Because it is a need of the film.
    I am neither American nor British. English is my third language thus, I believe I can be impartial about this
    In the Pirates of the Caribbean series, it has the plot of 17th century. There was no American accent at all at that time; not the one which we currently call ‘American Accent’. It would seem logically retarded if Jack Sparrow speaks in American accent.
    In the film ‘Dark Shadows (2012)’ his Vampire Character is born in England and the family moves to America. I find it natural if Barnabus Collins speaks in British accent.
    In film ‘Corpse Bride (2005)’ the plot is set in Ancient Europe and hence, it is logical if he speaks in British accent for the same reason that of ‘Pirates’ series.
    Same is the reason for ‘Finding Neverland (2004)’. But if we notice keenly, that is Scottish accent he performs in it. (I find it Scottish, I’m not a perfect) that is not the RP British accent.
    In the film ‘Charlie And the Chocolate Factory (2005)’ he speaks in American accent even though many other important characters speak in British accent.
    He speaks in British accent only when there is a need of it in the film. He doesn’t have any Foreign Accent Syndrome neither he’s ‘super-attracted’ to that accent. He is simply fulfilling the necessity of the character.
    Peace.

  2. Are you sure that ENGLISH is not your FOURTH language or do you have really bad reading comprehension? He speaks in America now with an English accent — in ordinary conversation. He is not English. He is from the American Midwest. This has NOTHING to do with accents required for movie roles — which I addressed in the story — which you SHOULD re-read. Also, if American English or English in any form is not your native language, you probably don’t understand the entire concept — thanks anyway.

  3. Very interesting and well presented Damien. And ThirdWOrldCountryman, don’t type in English if you can’t truly speak it. You come off as a moron, which may not be the case, but you certainly sound stupid.

  4. I don’t think he has some obscure brain disease. I think it’s simply leftovers from preparing for a movie role. I’ve heard other actors say that after they go through dialogue coaching to achieve or lose an accent it takes them time to return to their normal speech. I think it will just take a bit of time for him to sound like the Johnny Depp we all know. I am American and I did read the full article. I also think its ridiculous for a doctor to make a diagnosis or a hypothetical one having never met the person. Can you say quack?

  5. OMG people.
    Can you say “awesome”? or “irony”? or even “sarcasm”?

    jeeez

  6. I believe Johnny Depp is putting on the way he speaks. He’s rich & famous now and he is acting like an ass. Like a spoiled rich kid that wants attention. I believe he does this for publicity. Look he’s making us take notice and talk about it. I can’t stand Johnny Depp because of his attitude. It doesn’t matter how attractive someone is their personality can make them ugly.

  7. I think its for attention.. Look at the way he dresses for Christ sake.I remember watching a tosh stand up, ( don’t judge me lol) where Daniel made a good point saying something to the jist of: when Jonny Depp goes out he has to make sure he’s wearing 6 bracelets whilst making sure this and that is just so and that his bandana and hat must be tilted in just the right way.. I mean how old is this guy??

  8. I just saw him on the Ellen Degeneres Show and I also think that he’s doing it for attention. Mike is right. And I think he probably does it because it’s working for him. Being in Hollywood, he must feel the pressure of needing to do something different in order to stand out. But he’s also just really weird on top of that.

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