Accents can be funny things

As I type this, I’m listening to my daughter sing a song she learned at school.

It amuses me greatly, but probably not for the reason you’d think. I’m amused, because my children switch their accents around when they sing it!

My son, who was born in Canada, has a definite New Zealand accent. Well, to *my* ears, anyways. To Kiwi ears it is a bit diluted.  He changed his accent during his preschool years, to match his playmates.

But my kiwi-born daughter has a Canadian accent, despite her preschool mates, and despite almost a full term of school. I’m sure that this will change, bit by bit. I’m sure of this, because today, I noticed something about the song she’s singing.

 “Watch out all you two legged mice
Two legged mice in the pantry
A sign on the door says ’Danger Zone, R16 – No Entry’
But there must be a hole in the wall
They’ve got in and they’ve eaten all…” (Radha Sahar)

It’s a cute little song. Both my children know it and sing it.  When my daughter sings it, a funny thing happens.

Her “R” sounds, usually the rolled, hard “R” of her Canadian accent, turn to the soft “ah” sound of the Kiwi accent. Think “ah16” instead of “R16.”  The long “a” sound changes for her, too. Instead of the open “ah” sound in “wall” that is common to the Canadian accent, she switches to the closed “aw” sound. “Wahll” vs “Wawll.”

When she’s done singing, her Canadian accent returns.

My son does the opposite, and returns to the Canadian accent when he sings.

What does one make of that, do you suppose? Just makes me think that accents are funny things.


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About Broot

Thoughts about learning and life that are lost in a sea of blogs.

9 responses to “Accents can be funny things”

  1. Amber says :

    So cute, I love accents.

  2. solodialogue says :

    That’s so funny how it switches to the opposite of where they were born! But, hmm, mommy was born in Canada so I’m guessing your daughter is trying to be like her mommy which is so cute!! And strange given the day to day language other than you to which she is exposed.

    Sounds like when each of them sings, they revert to the more natural language….
    Interesting story!

    • Broot says :

      Yeah I hadn’t thought of it that way but you might be right. I also think that my daughter still has a Canadian accent because she spent more time at home with me than my son did. 🙂

  3. Kristy says :

    My son, who is Canadian, born and bred, sings in some nursery rhymes with a british accent. “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wahl, had a great fahl”. Daycare provider is british and so that’s the way you sing it. The dog also had poors, which took some understanding. Thanks for the smile. 🙂

    • Broot says :

      🙂 No prob, Kristy!! He’s also only a little bit younger than my Small Thing, if I remember right. Thank you for the smile! One day we’ll have to visit so we can actually see you!

  4. Dianna Graveman says :

    Wow, that is fascinating! I wonder why that is. I always thought it was curious how an actor (I’m thinking Hugh Laurie) can have such a distinct English accent when he’s being himself and yet completely lose that accent when reciting lines for his role on a TV show. But this is even more interesting–that your children subconsciously drop their accents while singing! I wonder what a speech pathologist would make of this…

    • Broot says :

      Well, if I concentrate really really hard I can mimic a Kiwi accent. Poorly, mind you. I can also do a fairly accurate Alabaman accent. 😉 I think some people find it easier to switch accents than others. I know a speech pathologist or two. I should ask them. 🙂

  5. Jenn @ You know...that Blog? says :

    Haha, I love that! So cute 😀 I never thought about me having an accent, but my American friends think it’s neat. They say it’s hilarious with I say “about” because to them it sounds like “aboot”. I don’t think so, but oh well. 🙂 I love kiwis! (the people and the fruit. Oh, and the birds too) I “hear” it in your writing sometimes – they have rubbed off on your more than you know I think!

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