Stephen Clarke wrote in A Year In the Merde, 2004 :

"Not really, I'm 27. If I was a rock star I'd be dead." The bloke made apologetic gestures. "No, no. Ah'm not criti-sashing. Ah'm just... admirative." He had a weird accent. Not quite French. I couldn't place it[...].

What does I couldn't place it means in this context ? For an English learner like me, it's easy to think that he can't place something, but it has no sense in this context. Is it, that he couldn't figure out where his accent comes from ? If so, why "place" ?


to place, in the sense of: TFD

to identify or classify in a particular context

As in:

I could not place that person's face.

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