What could be the reason my kid speaks with an accent different from his parents'?

It seems very strange to us. Our kid says “pyants” instead of “pants,”* “cyan’t” instead of “can’t,” and so on. Also, she says “bayer” instead of “bear,” “thayer” instead of “there,” and so on.

I’ve been trying to watch for similar dialectical variations on TV shows that she sees, but I haven’t noticed anything.

Her mom and I definitely don’t pronounce these words the way she does. We can’t think of any other adult she interacts with that talks this way.

The only thing I can imagine is that she’s picked it up from a friend? She’s three years old, and all the kids she interacts with regularly are four and under. But is this the kind of thing a kid would likely pick up from some other kid?


*I can only apologize, Indistinguishable, for not yet having learned how to do IPA online. :wink:

Location would be helpful. Also where you and your wife are from.

Also, kids talk like kids; it takes practice.

If they speak like she does, that’s almost certainly the origin. Where do you live?

Kids, in my observation, tend to acquire the accents of their peers, in preference to that of their parents. This starts from a very young age.

My wild guess is that this is advantageous. Your parents will accept you and love you no matter how you speak, but your peer group likes you better if you resemble them.

Yup, forgot to mention:

We’re currently in Indianapolis.

She was in California (Irvine) for the first year of her life, Texas (rural north of Denton) the second. She might have picked up “bayer”-style pronunciations there. But people didn’t say “pyants.”

Where do they say “pyants”?

When I was a kid and we went to visit family in Pennsylvania, I always ended up with a bit of a hillbilly drawl that lasted for about a week after we returned. Same thing with the black kids at summer camp; I’d end up speaking faster for a bit.

Chicago? (Which isn’t too far from Indy.)

Three years old? Sounds like just how she talks, right now.

One of my kids had a couple of odd constructions like this. He said, for instance, “skwer-yul” instead of squirrel and “gir-yul” instead of girl, and also insisted that a girl in his daycare was MARgan, not MORgan.

I don’t remember when he started getting it right, but eventually he did.

Another one said things like “brefkast” and “cimmnumon toast” for awhile. He talks okay, too, except when he went east for college and came home wanting soda instead of pop.

My three year old talks about like that. We certainly don’t have two syllables in pants, but she seems keen to put extra syllables in everything. I swear that she can make “No!” six or seven syllables. I think it’s just a 3 year old thing.

I think a few words can just come out oddly. My 6yo says baig instead of bag–I can’t even write it, it’s just weird. I don’t know why.

Kids do pick up accents very quickly, though. Neither of my kids had problems with R’s, but they both tried to pick up the ‘baby talk’ without R’s (around age 4), either from their friends or TV.

If you ask a friend of mine what state he’s from, he’ll answer “Kyansas.” I don’t know how widespread that is.

My three year old talks like that. I think it is part of the process of figuring out how to speak. A single syllable word that has a bunch of different sounds (pants has 5) may be easier to say when spread out over 2 or more syllables.

Also pronouncing words like this is a huge help when it comes to making your whining extra dramatic.

How old’s the kid?

In Spanish, vowels don’t change between dialects, unlike in English, but my 4yo nephew still doesn’t always pronounce the right vowels; he’s getting better at it. At 3, you had to guess half the vowels.

I’d agree that it’s more a product of age and the general process of learning how to speak, as well as her peers. My case is similar to others here - I’m from Manchester (UK) although South Manchester, so my accent is relatively soft compared to the classic Mancunian. My husband is Australian, although again his accent is relatively gentle. However, my daughter sounds slightly different (at 3 1/2) from either of us - a friend of mine describes her as ‘proper southern’. She’s almost RP, which makes me giggle. She’s definitely picking some of it up from her peers, but lots of it seems like experimentation.

I spoke Received Pronounciation (ie BBC) English as a child, which made everyone giggle in Scotland - and so led to many fights. I also used to subconciously reverse simple words phonetically, which didn’t help me.

I always assumed RP was unique to the English language, but in the Netherlands they have it too, although they refer to it as ABN, Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands, or ‘general civilized Dutch’, a description which certainly irks the residents of Groningen and other non-ABN regions.

The kid could also be having problems pronouncing certain sounds and need some speech therapy to teach them how a sound is made. I started having problems with S sounding like TH one year. It was a matter of tongue position. The problem was solved in about a month.

My husband is an Oslo boy and sounds it; I have a Generic Foreigner accent in Norwegian. When our oldest son was small, we lived in Trondheim. He had a Trønder accent you could bend iron around. He did not get that from us - in fact his Norwegian grandmother couldn’t understand him :eek: We moved to the Oslo area when he was four and his accent quickly changed, and by now he sounds exactly like his classmates who have lived here all their lives, as well as his little brother who was born here. Never underestimate the power of peers.

Welcome to Toddler Land. My 3 year old loves cancakes and saucie for breakfast. And she most certainly likes chyups with her sammich.

Can strangers understand her 75% of the time or more? Than I wouldn’t worry about it at age 3. If not, then it’s time for an evaluation by a speech therapist, just to make sure she doesn’t have anything physiologically odd or behaviorally impeding her speech.

But yeah, it’s probably just because she’s 3. She’s still practicing, and at that stage of learning a skill where she has to think about it because it’s not become completely internalized yet. Like when you learned to drive a car and had to remember to turn on your turn signal before every turn.

Kids tend to have a GREAT unconscious ear for very subtle differences in sounds, especially vowels (which is why they’re so good at “picking up accents”), and she may be hearing a slight “y” sound when you say it that you’re unaware of. As she hasn’t yet internalized the stresses or duration of sounds in a word like a native speaker, she may give it more emphasis than is exactly proper.

My wifes parents emigrated to Canada before my wife was born. She grew up here in Canada and has a ‘Canadian’ accent. I suppose I should point out that it isn’t a ‘Hoser’ Canadian accent, more like Peter Jennings. She couldn’t hear her parents English accents until she was a teen. She had picked up her pronunciations and accent from school and friends.

Our (Canadian) kids were in a summer day camp when they were 8, down in Richmond, IN. There was much discussion about their funny accent. The main point of conversation was the fact that our kids had to get their ‘bag’. The Richmond kids couldn’t understand why they couldn’t pronounce ‘bay-ug’ properly.