Motsi Mabuse struggles to understand northern accents despite speaking five languages



Northern accents are just paso doble Dutch to Strictly Come Dancing judge Motsi Mabuse.

The South African-German dancer is fluent in five languages and can get by in a sixth, but has to ask Strictly co-star Craig Revel Horwood to translate some contestants’ thick dialects.

Motsi, 41, is fluent in English, German and three South African languages including Afrikaans and Setswana, and also speaks a little of husband Marius Lepure’s native tongue, Romanian.

But she admits: “On Strictly, I really struggle with people that come from the North.

“I’m like: ‘Can you please translate?’ It’s so strong, and I just don’t understand. It starts with ‘hello’ and then it’s over. Like, what?”

Asked if she struggled to understand the strong Lancashire accent of Blackburn-born TV presenter AJ Odudu, who competed in the 2021 series, Motsi says: “Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes! But there have been quite a few from the North, and I’m always asking Craig. I’m just trying to understand. It’s not easy.”

Motsi often has to ask colleague Craig Revel Horwood to translate for her
Motsi often has to ask colleague Craig Revel Horwood to translate for her ( BBC)

Marvelling at the variety of British accents, she said: “You all speak differently. Every time I’m in this country, I really have to concentrate. Some people, I just don’t know, are we speaking the same language? There’s a lot of different types of accents here.”

Motsi lives near Frankfurt in Germany with husband Marius, commuting to the UK every week during the Strictly live shows. Being multilingual has its downside, though, as she has been known to slip into German during live broadcasts.

“I’m always fighting it,” she tells the Off Menu podcast.

“In times of pressure, I have slipped – I have spoken German. It’s happened a few times, I hear what’s going on with my tongue. And I have that South African accent. It’s a mess – it’s a complete mess.

Motsi on strictly panel
Motsi had the audience and presenter Tess Daly in stitches with her comments ( BBC)

“My South African brain corrects me. I can’t change it, it’s live TV.”

She enjoys putting on her own English accent, which echoes Aussie Craig’s drawl.

She says: “This is how it sounds to me...Daaarling. Char-char-char.”

Motsi also says she would love to take part in a Strictly-style competition – if only to boost her fitness.

She finds it all too easy to skip training sessions, unlike the celebrity contestants who train every day.

She laughs: “I say to my manager: find a show like that for me.”

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