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Friday, June 11, 2010

English or American?

For anyone who doesn't know me personally, I'm married to an Englishman. My husband was born and raised in the western far-reaching suburbs of London. His parents live over there as well as his sister. His brother lives in Papua New Guinea but that's another story! So needless to say he pronounces words differently to myself who was born and raised in a northeastern far-reaching suburb of Boston, MA. I don't have a Massachusetts accent though so don't go imagining I sound like Cliff Clavin or anything! I would say I have a fairly neutral American accent but if you know me feel free to disagree.

Where am I going with this? Well, put yourself in my three year old's shoes. Both mommy and daddy use the same words (most of the time) and yet we pronounce them in different ways. It's been interesting to see what kind of affect this would have and recently we learned what it is. She has started correcting our pronunciation!

I think it depends on who says the word first to her or who says it the most often who has the right, in her mind, pronunciation. For example, when we read Make Way for Ducklings we pronounce the word "Mallard" differently. I think I read the book to her first so she will correct my husband when he reads it. He tends to give her a bath every night so she thinks the way he says "bath" is correct and that is the way she says it.

Some pronunciations are quite obvious but others are more subtle so it always amazes me when she hears the difference and "corrects" us. For example she notices the difference in the word "library". So she is clearly very aware of what we are saying and the distinctions. We have tried to explain to her why we are different but I don't know if she really understands yet. It will be interesting to see how this grows and changes over time, especially once her peers are aware that some of the words she says are a little different. Will they embrace it or will she be teased in to pronouncing things the American way?

PS - Check out those links on the words. You can hear the different ways we pronounce them!

1 comment:

nonlineargirl said...

One of Ada's friends has a British father, and the friend refers to Ian as "AAhn".