If your toddler pronounces “tomato” and “zebra” with British flair, refers to you as “Mummy,” and inserts a well-timed oink into most of her sentences, then you might have a Peppa Pig addict – but don’t worry, it’s normal for kids that age to mimic what they see and hear.
Also, she’ll get over it and move onto the next thing, like she does everything else.
If it makes you feel better, many children who watch the show start to use an accent around 20 months old, according to a University of Plymouth study.
So, you’re not alone.
Donna Bond, a lawyer from Seattle, Washington, admitted on Twitter that she felt like a “sh*tty parent” because her kid watches so much Peppa she’s started pronouncing certain words with a British accent. When her 9-year-old daughter asked the 3-year-old what a zeh-bra and tomahto were, she had the cutest answer possible.
“Zeh-bras are a certain type of zebra and tomahtoes are a certain type of tomato that only pigs eat.”
Bang on, little one.
Roberto Rey Agudo, a language program director at Dartmouth University, has more of a scientific explanation:
“Mimicry of Peppa is a matter of exposure. Reports of Peppa accents in the U.S. are prevalent in part because Peppa Pig has been such a phenomenon with the 2 to 5-year-old crowd and it’s considered cute, whereas I don’t know what other shows have that kind of currency right now.”
He also says your child might not even be aware they’re speaking differently since their brains don’t process discrete languages the way adult ones do.
“At some level they may notice a difference in the choice of words, in the pronunciation of certain sounds, vowels, what happens to the Rs after vowels, but they don’t identify those things with an accent, per se.”
And a study published in The British Psychological Society backs him up, finding that 5 and 6-year-olds were not able to distinguish between different regional accents but could identify accents different than their own.
If you’re worried your kid might pronounce words different forever, don’t be – even though it’s possible for your child to adopt a foreign accent, but they would have to persist in using it far past the age where they’ll be watching Peppa on a regular basis.
As far as the oinking noise, well, there’s not much you can do about that…except maybe not react to your kid’s repetitive use of it. Dr. Emma Byrne says she thinks “the main reason it resonates with kids is it really winds up adults.”
Kids who mimic Peppa are at an age when they don’t have much control over their lives and they’re always looking for ways to remedy that, she points out to Romper.
“If you imagine being somewhere between the ages of 2 and 5, you don’t have much power in this world, beyond those tantrums of going all floppy, but as soon as you find a word of a sound in this case to consistently get your parents’ attention, it’s an amazing thing.”
Plus, Peppa is funny – she’s always laughing, and that’s teaching your toddler important communication skills.
“Laughing is such an amazing communicative act between humans, especially where there is a callback, that sense of belonging that comes with laughter.”
Dr. Byrne continued, pointing out that laughing at your toddler’s jokes is one of the most powerful things you can do. So, in service of the greater good, go ahead and continue to welcome Peppa, George, Suzy, and the whole lot of them into your home for as long as your toddler will have them.
Like it will be with everything else from their childhood, one day, you’ll miss it.
Yes, even the oinks.