Someone Sparked An Investigation Into The Origins Of Frasier Crane’s Accent—And We Need To Know

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It’s been said (at least in meme form, which we all know makes it true as far as the internet is concerned) that The Big Bang Theory is a show about intellectuals written for the average person, while Frasier was a show about intellectuals written for intellectuals. Kelsey Grammar played the role of Dr. Frasier Crane for two decades straight between Cheers and Frasier and, to a lot of people, it’s Grammar’s defining character.

Fans of the character know that the good doctor is intelligent, incredibly well educated, has a seriously interesting family life, and has a strange rivalry with a Jack Russell terrier named Eddie. But what fans don’t know, and keep asking, is what’s up with the way he speaks? Frasier and his brother Niles both sound kind of British, but not really? Their father doesn’t sound like that. Kelsey Grammar himself doesn’t sound like that, so what’s the deal with Frasier?

One Twitter sleuth decided it was time to solve this riddle once and for all.

Josh wasn’t the only one who’s been wondering about this for years. What are we hearing? It’s not British, and it doesn’t sound American, either.

Josh Gondelman is out there doing the investigative journalism people really want, and what he found out really reinforces everything we know about Frasier and Niles as neurotic and hilarious siblings.

If you go back and re-watch shows, you learn some things about the boys — namely, that they both studied at prestigious boarding schools in the UK before moving on to Ivy league schools. Frasier is an alum of both Harvard and Oxford. The boys came from “humble” beginnings with their father working as a police officer, and so they tried hard to fit in with their “old money” peers at school. Frasier even took to smoking a pipe in his early teen years!

Kelsey Grammar put it best when he was asked to describe Frasier. He said the character was “flawed, silly, pompous, and full of himself, [yet] kind [and] vulnerable.”  Show producers wrote Frasier to be brilliant, self-important, and incredibly insecure, i.e., a perfect storm. In short, the accent developed as a way for Frasier and Niles to sound … snootier.

Twitter nailed it! 

There’s even a name for the not-British-not-American accent! 

The Transatlantic accent was designed to blend common speech of American and British English, but it didn’t really originate in any one location. According to voice and drama professor Dudley Knight, it’s an affected set of speech patterns whose “chief quality was that no Americans actually spoke it unless educated to do so.” The accent is, therefore, best associated with the American upper class, theater, and film industry of the 1930s and 1940s. Yeah, it’s an entire accent that people made up just to sound like they had more money than other people. Wikipedia even uses Frasier and Niles Crane as comedic examples of it.

The answer is pretty much this:

To buy the complete Frasier series, click here.


Written by Erica Diaz

Erica is the consummate cool-kid. She’s so cool that she’s been talked about in magazines, on blogs and on the radio after losing her left eye because of a piece of glitter. She is still actively mourning the passing of Prince and hopes to one day do an all-iguana remake of Graffiti Bridge since iguanas are plentiful near her home in South Florida. She has yet to find one that can really nail the “ahhhyayayeaheaheah” that Tevin Campbell does in Round and Round, and everyone knows the music is the important part of any Prince film. She’s a mother, singer, writer and (if the internet is to be believed - which we all know it is) a Nigerian socialite mid-ranking member of the Illuminati. She prides herself on being the most popular one-eyed rock star under 5 ft tall in pretty much any room she walks into.