Parlez-vous français? Le Jeep, non

Is this Jeep anti-French or xenophobic? You decide.


Published Sep 20, 2011   Updated Jun 3, 2021, 2:41 am CDT

Voice-activated systems are prone to make the gag-worthy mishap every so often. But when the mishap involves questionable xenophobia towards a certain snail-gobbling nation, c’est hilarant.

A recent YouTube video shows Internet-famous magician Brian Brushwood performing a nasal groan at the voice-activated menu system of his rental car, a Jeep Liberty, while driving (no comment on distracted driving). The car immediately recognizes this as a command to proceed to the French menu, and questions Brushwood whether he wants to switch languages.

A technical coincidence? Most likely—though the software business has a long history of inserting clever surprises known as “Easter eggs” into its wares. As Detroit gets increasingly technologically sophisticated, are Chrysler engineers picking up Silicon Valley-style quirks?

Brushwood, who also hosts the popular Scam School podcast on Revision3, told the Daily Dot that he came across the little trick when he accidentally pressed the voice menu button. Not knowing what to say, he started mumbling “uhhhhh.” That’s when the odd behavior happened.

On whether Francophones should find this offensive, he said, “I certainly hope not! Actually, judging from the comments on YouTube, most of the French people checking out the video thought it was pretty funny, too.”

Many in the comments complimented Brushwood’s French imitation. On Reddit, HiroPetrelli gave higher praise for the car’s “cute Quebecois accent.”

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*First Published: Sep 20, 2011, 1:47 pm CDT