Children’s accents are funny things.
I wouldn’t class myself as having an accent that was recognisable as coming from a specific area. Having my formative years living in Windsor (therefore speaking very well, some would say posh, although it wasn’t received pronounciation), followed by years around the Banbury area, plus another 3 up north in Lancashire, I probably have a bit of a mixed bag. I do cringe when I hear myself on the phone as I do probably sound quite slapdash with my whatever accent I have.
The OH doesn’t really have an accent either. He’s born and bred pretty much in the area we’re in now, so although he probably has a bit of a ‘farmer’ relaxed twang, again, it’s a non-accent.
So it’s intriguing to work out how N will end up speaking, and where on earth he gets some of his current pronounciation.
Some of his speech is obviously down to not quite being able to say certain sounds, so while he can say ‘Julie’ clearly, ‘Jane’ sounds like ‘chain’ (or so his cousins were laughing about the other day). And others are down to his lack of understanding/learning of the correct tense. So one of his favourite phrases is ‘I are’ , when he means ‘I am’. All very cute, but it is amusing that after him saying that for a long time, he’s still not worked out that it should be ‘I am’.
When our niece was younger, we all used to be amused by some of her accent until she went to school. We used to joke that she had an Oxfordshire, ‘yokel’ accent. When she said words like my bike or cake, it sounded like ‘moiy biiyke’ and ‘caaake’. It seems that N’s speech is starting the same way with ‘myyne’ for mine and ‘biiyke’
It’s so strange, as no-one in the family, and none of the nursery staff pronounce words in a similar way, so I have no idea where it’s coming from.
Whether it’s a standard way that children experiment with sounds? Or if it’s how they hear things? Or whether children’s accents just naturally lengthen words and therefore they are spoken sounding a bit odd.
It’s just a mystery to me where he’s picking it up from, when you’d expect children to pick up accents from the people they’re around day in day out.
Reading around the internet, there’s not that much around explaining how children pick up accents – one study suggested nursery or preschool rather than parents, siblings or school was a major influence. Over at the Science of Accents, it explains that children lose the ability to hear and pick up accents fairly young.
Hopefully he’ll lose it, as his cousin did once she started school, although in the meantime we can have a bit of a giggle while helping him with the correct pronounciation.
Do your children have any amusing accent quirks? Do they change accent frequently?