Dr. Boli has always sincerely wanted to know the answer to this question, which he will never be able to answer himself, since, even if he were to spend years immersed in the best Parisian society, he would remain firmly an American.

We shall phrase it as a multiple-choice poll:

When she sings in French, Josephine Baker’s pronounced American accent is…

A. charming.

B. grating.

Or, of course, there may be other options:

C. It can be both at the same time.

D. Hicks from Alsace talk like that every day.

Do native French listeners smile when she sings “mawn payee ay Pawree”? Or do they claw at their ears, but keep coming back because they enjoy looking at her?

There are probably very few native French-speakers reading this article, since it is in English on an English-language site. But perhaps a few Francophones will eventually stumble across it. As an American, Dr. Boli is unqualified to judge, so his opinion that Miss Baker’s singing is delightful, accent and all, counts for nothing.


  1. Charlie Liberté says:

    There’s an old French Proverb, “Choisissez votre femme par l’oreille bien plus que par les yeux”, roughly translated, “Choose a wife rather by your ear than your eye.” – so my guess is, “They…keep coming back because they enjoy looking at her.”

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