Star Trek Theory Explains Why Jean-Luc Picard Has A British Accent

Star Trek Theory Explains Why Jean-Luc Picard Has A British Accent

Star Trek Theory Explains Why Jean-Luc Picard Has A British Accent


"Star Trek" is an expansive universe. It incorporates countless people across numerous places, spanning decades of shows and movies. And yet, in the same way that Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man was a defining face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, certain faces sum up the entire "Star Trek" experience. Chief amongst these is Jean-Luc Picard, lovingly portrayed time and again by fan-favorite actor Patrick Stewart, who could still return as the character again under the right conditions.

Picard is a French name supposedly derived from someone living in Picardy in northern France. In "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Jean-Luc strongly associates with this French heritage as he traipses across the galaxy. The only issue with this emphasis is that Picard sports a British accent during the show.

The inconsistent cadence is pronounced enough that one fan attempted to solve the mystery through a simple yet profound theory they posted on Reddit. U/Cabbiecar1001 suggests that Picard actually doesn't speak English with a British accent. He's speaking perfect Parisian French, and the show's universal translator is helping viewers in the English-speaking world hear it flawlessly in their native tongue.

The Redditor even considers the variations in French dialects around the globe (at least as far as they exist in the 21st century), adding, "Because Picard is Parisian — and not Québécois, French West African or Haitian — it makes him sound British to English speakers because that is the closest equivalent to what European French sounds like to French speakers."

It's not a bad theory for this infamous Star Trek plot hole.


The theory explains Picard's obsession with old English literature too

Star Trek Theory Explains Why Jean-Luc Picard Has A British Accent


One of the obvious objections to Jean-Luc Picard being from France — in addition to the whole speaking French bit — is the fact that he acts so gosh darn British. The guy oozes the personality of a posh nationalist during the British Empire's heyday. What gives?

The theory doesn't completely skip over this critical detail. If Picard speaks French, how does he enjoy experiences like reading Shakespeare that are distinct elements of the English vernacular? Redditor u/Cabbiecar spends the final third of their theory digging into the answer, explaining, "The universal translator is also why Picard is such a big fan of English literature like Shakespeare and Moby Dick, since he can read it in a perfect French translation whereas today's Google Translate would just completely butcher the lyricism and meaning of such classic works."

It isn't far-fetched to imagine that 200 years from now ("The Next Generation" part of Jean-Luc Picard's timeline takes place part way through the 24th century), technology would be advanced enough to provide seamless translations not just verbally but also through classic academics. If this were the case, it would make sense for Picard to obsess with quality literature, no matter what culture it came from within Earth's multi-cultural ecosystem.


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Other takes on the theory

Star Trek Theory Explains Why Jean-Luc Picard Has A British Accent


The "Picard accent is from the universal translator" theory works, but some of the more popular fan feedback in the Reddit thread suggested a different take. Remember, we're talking about a complex character that defined a show for multiple seasons. Picard's ongoing storyline evolves over time as he changes through his experiences. The complexity of the "Star Trek" universe has deepened since the show premiered in the 1980s, opening up the doors to multiple interpretations of the U.S.S. Enterprise captain's odd accent question.

Redditor u/Bay1Bri semi-rebutted the original theory by saying, "It's not just the accent. He drinks Earl grey tea, reads Shakespeare, etc." They believe Picard comes from a family that lived in the U.K., moved to France, and retained much of their Britishness. "This explains," they conclude, "why everyone in his family is so British as well, but the other French people we met aren't."

U/ibided throws in their two cents, saying, "In First Contact he talks about how his species evolved beyond borders and money. I think he was raised in a multi-lingual, multinational world where you can be anything coming from anywhere. It's why he cares so much for Worf. And for Ryker sitting on chairs that way."

None of these alternatives completely damn the original theory. Instead, they provide alternatives for the more skeptical and are a clear labor of love from a committed fan community. U/LockNessMansterLives sums up the sentiment with the highest upvoted response, where they say, "I'm good with this because I absolutely 100% don't care that Jean-Luc Picard, a Frenchman, has a British accent. Sir Patrick Stewart is an international treasure and has proven his worth in pop culture time and time again." We heartily agree.

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