Popeye's Accent

So, just where was Popeye supposed to be from? A friend of mine thinks he’s suppossed to be from New Orleans, but I can’t place his way of talking at all.

Popeye’s voice is often used as an example of what the Kargyraa technique of Tuvan throat singing sounds like.
This could provide a clue. The juxtaposition of a sailor and Tuva - the “Center of Asia”, so far removed from the sea could suggest a much deeper meaning to Popeye.
Perhaps we should drink some Araka, fermented mare’s milk, the national alcoholic drink of Tuva and ponder the possibilities of Popeye. Was he just a sailor man or was he actually a lost Tuvan throat singer far from home.

I would say it is more of a New England whaler type of accent, with heavy doses of English “pirate”, like Long John Silver, mixed in.


I thought it was a speech impediment, caused by his deformed jaw.

I asked this very question some time ago in Cafe Society and got no answer, so I’m curious if anyone has one now.

The closest human in terms of accent I can think of is Burgess Meredith, who was born in Cleveland Ohio. Was it Lake Erie Popeye sailed on all those years?

The speech pattern is the result of the excess consumption of a mixture of spinach and olive oil.

Fibonnacci is right, insofar as anyone is right.

But, really, truly, the answer is: Popeye’s accent is not supposed to sound like any particular accent. It was, at most, meant to be funny. That’s it. End of story.

Why exactly do people think it has to represent a real accent?

Wah! Wah! Waaaah!

Oy! I thought by the time the outage was over and I had come back, somebody would have a supported answer! Here is my post that I had finished just before the board went down. h.sapiens could be on the right track:

One big fan claims to have the closest answer:

Pastor Steve’s Popeye page:

In the FAQ page I found this:

Now fhios, what New Orleans has to do with it? I think your friend is thinking of Popeye’s Chicken restaurant, which originated there.

I think his dialect is Newfoundland english but not his accent

if anything, the Irish tend to speak in the croaky voice.

But otherwise its a drunken (or elderly persons) slur with a smokers raspy voice.
Maybe the sailer got strep throat cold or flu too many times.

The sound probably suits an obese sailor, but they show him as quite fit.

Do Newfoundlanders really say “fisks” instead of “fists”?

I dass say they do.

I had a friend with a speech impediment who used to challenge people to identify her "accent’. People came up with the wildest things, and usually ended up embarrassed when she told them the truth.
As with others in this thread, I don’t think that Popeye’s way of speaking was supposed to be an accent, or even a speech impediment. It’s just the gravelly way they voiced him.

The different actors don’t really sound the same, and you can distinguish between them. Mercer probably did it longer than anyone, and I do prefer his take on the voice. Costello sounds rougher and more gravelly.

It’s easy enough to explain away Popeye having an inconsistent accent/dialect. His pappy was a sailor before him, and he was raised at sea, always going from one port to the next. So he ended up picking up bits and pieces of the speech patterns of all the coastal cities in the world.

Billy West also voiced Popeye, as well as Poopdeck Pappy, in 2004’s Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest For Pappy. He described it as a buzzsaw in his throat.

I always assumed the comic strip character to be sort of Irish-American. Segar was all about the stereotypes, after all.

Wikipedia says that the original voice belongs to a vaudeville actor named Billy Costello, and based on a raspy-voiced character who appeared on the Betty Boop radio show named Gus the Gorilla.

Since this is about a cartoon character, let’s move it to Cafe Society. Note that this thread was started in 2002.

General Questions Moderator