The character of Captain Jack, when we first meet him in the Doctor Who episode "The Empty Child", is pretending to be an American, but is in reality a Time Agent from another planet. The character later stars in his own series, Torchwood.

From time to time, Captain Jack will pronounce words in the British way instead of the American way, such as "oestrogen" instead of "estrogen" in Torchwood's first episode. In-universe, this could be explained by the fact that Jack isn't really an American, but out-of-universe, is it intended that way, or is it simply an accidental consequence of Barrowman's Scottish roots?

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    "10.54am: RTD asked why Captain Jack cast as an American. "There was no reason actually. We really singled John out for that part when we met him because we loved him. He did it in a Scottish accent and his normal American accent, even an English accent. In the end I decided it made it bigger if it was an American accent. It just felt right at that time, little knowing then that he would go on to have his own show!" - digitalspy.com/tv/doctor-who/news/a167392/… – Valorum Oct 2 '16 at 19:20
  • Yes, but by Torchwood, the character is established. I always thought that having him be American was similar to the way real life spies work. A Russian spy would never try to pose as an American because of the chances he'd get some subtle cultural thing wrong and arouse suspicion. Instead, he would pose as European, so that Americans would be less likely to pick up on his mistakes. – John Sensebe Oct 3 '16 at 1:34
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    Historically, Russian NOCs in the U.S. actually did pose as Americans, and prided themselves on their perfection in that role. In these degenerate days, however, you're right that they're more likely to pass themselves off as, say, Belgians. – ruakh Oct 3 '16 at 6:41

He's a Time Agent from hundreds of years in the future. Whatever state the English language is in, it isn't the same as it is today. Maybe British pronunciations became more common - or maybe the language changed completely (as it has been doing over the past few hundred years) and would be unrecognisable to us.

Considering this possibility, we know that the Tardis uses a psychic translation system to help its occupants speak the local lingo - I'm sure Jack would have some similar technology, or perhaps a memory enhancement tech that allows people to learn entire languages overnight. We know that memory modification exists where he's from (the reason he left the Agency was because somebody stole a year of his memories). So we can assume that whatever method Jack has used gave him the ability to speak in British English, but by some quirk did not affect his accent.

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    I feel this doean't really answer the question, but there is merit in it anyway, so here's an upvote. The Doctor's TARDIS does some very quirky things with translation and accents, like making Dutch accents sound Scottish and vice versa, but there is ample evidence (at least in the classic series) that the Doctor knows several Earth languages without help. – John Sensebe Oct 24 '16 at 11:36

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