The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don’t need to be too worried.
As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper’s Janet Manley calls it “the Peppa effect,” noting that her daughter started calling her “Mummy” after an in-flight Peppa marathon.
I’d like to thank Peppa Pig for the slight yet adorable British accent my toddler is acquiring. #mum #mummy
— jen rofé (@jenrofe)
Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley’s experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.
Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn’t a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.
“Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language,” James told Global News. “Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it’s a special window of opportunity that adults don’t possess.”
Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.
But it’s not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears “Mummy” their brain translates it to “Mommy,” but little kids don’t yet make as concrete a connection. “When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way.”
So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you “Mummy” or testing out a new pronunciation of “toh-mah-toe,” know that this is totally natural, and they’re not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.
As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, “it’s really unlikely that they’d be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show.”
It sure is cute though.