While plenty of children have adopted accents after traveling abroad or having a foreign relative come and visit for an extended period of time, it seems one toddler got stuck with a British accent after watching too much television.
As reported by the CBC, back in 2014, a 2-year-old Canadian girl ended up adopting a British accent after spending hours watching Peppa Pig. For those who aren’t familiar with the show, Peppa Pig is a British animated television series targeted towards preschoolers. The show follows Peppa, an anthropomorphic pig, who spends time with her friends and family as she engages in everyday activities, from visiting relatives to going swimming. The show, which has been on the air since 2004, has over 250 episodes and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s so popular in the U.K. that there is even a small family-oriented amusement park, dubbed the Peppa Pig World Theme Park.
Needless to say, the show is set in a fictitious town in England, and the entire cast, including Peppa and her younger brother, George, have British accents. Penny, the aforementioned toddler from Canada, used to watch Peppa Pig religiously. Over time, her parents noticed that their child had picked up a British accent. Better yet, it seems that Penny had even adopted the use of British terms — iced lolly instead of popsicle, that sort of thing.
Believe it or not, the so-called “Peppa effect” is not relegated to Penny. Years ago, non-British parents began noticing that their children had adopted English accents, leading to a handful of humorous social media posts, as parents tried to determine a cause for the behavioral change. As Penny’s parents noted, their child also began pronouncing certain words differently — “toe-mah-toe” as opposed to “toe-may-toe,” and “zeh-brah” instead of “zee-bra.”
Rebecca Thompson, a speech pathologist operating out of Guelph, Ontario, explained that this behavior isn’t entirely unusual.
“If the language they are learning comes from a source with a British accent and British dialectical vocabulary differences, they could pick that up,” Thompson noted, adding that some children might even continue the behavior if they notice positive feedback (e.g. laughing or encouragement) from their parents. She also explained that some children — particularly those living in Canada — might naturally speak with an English accent.
A two-year-old began picking up English phrases such as "ice lolly" https://t.co/6lv91g2kMt
— Evening Standard (@standardnews) April 14, 2019
“Some are just following the normal progression of speech sound development for Canadian children,” Thompson said.
That being said, the CBC noted that most children lost their accent when they began attending kindergarten, as their interests had shifted over time.