Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Accidental Accent

When my children were very young, they spoke with the Aussiest of accents. The fact that they had an American mother who was their primary care giver never seemed to rub off on them. Their accents were so Aussie that their American grandparents had difficulty understanding them over the telephone (It was heartbreaking, but predictable. Americans aren't known for their ability to understand other English dialects). I never put much thought into how they pronounced their words or what vocabulary they used when they spoke. To me, they were just my children and their voices were their voices.

When my daughter was 4, we traveled to the USA for our annual holiday to visit my family. During our time there I noticed a difference in the way she was speaking and the things she was saying. She was slowly but surely picking up the the American accent. Not just a subtle accent though, a very obvious American accent. When we came back to Australia after being in the USA for 8 weeks, EVERYONE commented on how her accent had changed. That she was speaking like an "American" now. At one stage, she asked me, "Mom how long will I speak American for?" Hmmm, I thought, "Well, really as long as you like." She liked to speak like an American, so this accent continued for quite awhile. Slowly though, it began to fade and the Australian accent came back.

My son, who is younger, had a similar experience when we returned to visit the USA this year. He picked up lots of American words and came home speaking with a slight American accent. It was nowhere near as profound as the one my daughter came home with last year, but it was certainly noticable.

Several weeks after our return home, we had a birthday party at a local Gymnastics school for our daughter. My son, the flirt, had one of the gymnastics instructors eating out of the palm of his hand. The girl spent so much time with him during the party. He loved the attention and she seemed very taken by him. At the end of the party he told me, "Mom, the Gymnastics teacher at the party asked me if I had an American 'accident'." To which I replied, "Oh, you mean, 'accent' right?" But he insisted, "No, I don't mean 'accent' I mean 'accident'. She asked me if I had an American 'accident' and I said 'No' because Mom I don't speak American."

So it seems while my daughter's American accent was intentional, I have a charming yet stubborn 3 year old with an accidental accent.


Nathalie said...

That is too funny. How gorgeous!

Annelise said...

That kid cracks me up! I LOVE both of your children! You should pretty much teach lessons on child rearing because I adore your kids. AND I work with a lot of kids so you know that this is not just a flipant comment. Consider it a professional opinion on how much you rock.