While children usually take on the accent of the community around them — a child whose parents are Australian but live in Ireland will very likely take on an Irish accent — this time it’s TV that’s making little ones change the way they speak.
A popular British TV show for children called “Peppa Pig” is being widely credited with causing young American viewers to speak in a British accent. The cartoon is set in a fictional town in the United Kingdom, and Peppa Pig, the titular character, is voiced by a British person whose accent is apparently infectious. Parents in the US are reporting that after watching the show, their children have started speaking with a noticeable British accent and using Britishism like “straightaway” and “mummy” in imitation of the cartoon pig.
New Yorker Paul R. LaMonica tweeted, “My youngest son has recently become obsessed with Peppa Pig and has even adopted a fake British accent. Confession: So have I.” Jess Steinbrenner from Minnesota is experiencing a similar phenomenon with her child, tweeting, “The most entertaining aspect of my life right now is that my toddler has been watching Peppa Pig and now speaks with a British accent.”
And they’re not alone in reporting the “#PeppaEffect.”
Yeah I can vouch for the #PeppaEffect in our house. Tayla absolutely lapses into a slight Brit accent and vocabulary, and uses the word “straightaway” more than I ever have in my life! 😜.
“Daddy, when we get home do I have to go to bed straightaway?” https://t.co/VOiMiJugtr
— Eddie Painter (@PaintManNO) February 12, 2019
I thought I was seriously crazy for a while until my dad pointed out Olivia was starting to have an English accent! Guess I’m not the only one whose kid is suffering from the #PeppaEffect 🤣https://t.co/6HzCOKy8Q5
— Eugénie Applewhite (@eugenius27) February 14, 2019
Dr Susannah Levi, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at New York University, explained to The Guardian that toddlers tend to mimic, hence the phenomenon, but that without concrete and regular interactions with a British person, it’s improbable that children will keep on speaking with a British inflection and use British vocabulary and idioms.
Although it is unlikely that the accent will stick, if a generation of American teenagers grows up with an inexplicable British accent, we’ll know to blame the pig.