Are Kids Actually Picking Up British Accents Because Of 'Peppa Pig?'
Is the beloved British pig to blame?
The Peppa Effect has reached a fever pitch.
Picking up a British accent used to require living across the pond for years and regularly conversing with folks who sound like they're straight out of Downton Abbey. Now, thanks to the wildly popular children's show Peppa Pig, a British accent is much more within reach — just ask impressionable four-year-olds.
Some parents have pointed out their kids are developing foreign accents after too much exposure to the animated children's series. The #PeppaEffect (or #PeppaSyndrome) is the term parents of dedicated Peppa fans are using to describe their children adopting British accents like they're headed to Hogwarts.
The effect sure is entertaining, but per experts, little Peppa Pig and her friends may not be to blame for the phenomenon. According to Dr. Susannah Levi, an associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, you can't adopt a second dialect just from watching a show.
"You will learn the dialect that’s around you, which is learned by interactions, not by watching," Levi told The Guardian.
But it is possible kids are replicating the way certain words are said by the Brits.
Take tomato, for example. If a child is unfamiliar with the word and has heard it from Peppa Pig for the first time, they may automatically assume the correct pronunciation would be to-mah-to, not to-may-to.
It's also possible kids like the attention they get from their fascinated parents when they speak with the accents.
"If you imagine being somewhere between the ages of 2 and 5, you don't have much power in this world," Dr. Emma Byrne, author of Swearing is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language, told parenting site Romper. "Beyond those tantrums of going all floppy, but as soon as you find a word or a sound in this case to consistently get your parents' attention, it's an amazing thing."
"Laughing is such an amazing communicative act between humans," she went on, "especially where there is a callback, that sense of belonging that comes with laughter."
Parents are immune to the #PeppaEffect because adults are less susceptible to accents than kids with malleable, growing brains.
Interesting. Can someone consult Madonna?