If you’ve been hearing your Peppa Pig-loving kid say mummy instead of mommy and petrol instead of gas, you’re not alone. The insanely popular British show is beloved by kids all over the United States, to the point where kids are picking up British phrases and accents in what’s known as the #PeppaEffect.
Kids can and do watch and rewatch the show over and over again online. That means hours spent listening to George Pig, Rebecca Rabbit, Suzy Sheep, and the rest of the Anglo-speaking gang. Kids’ accents come from hearing those around them, so it makes sense that if their time is spent listening to British voices they would start to say “toe-mah-to” instead of tomato.
If this feels like some kind of isolated instant or even a viral marketing stunt, it’s not. Plenty of parents from across the United States have taken to Twitter to share their own experiences with the #PeppaEffect.
When the dog has been bad my daughter says " mama Chase is being naughty!"#PeppaEffect
— Amanda Harless (@sxyredjelybean) February 15, 2019
— KayMac (@KLee04) February 15, 2019
My 2yo says “zeh-bra” instead of “zee-bra,” and nothing will convince her the American pronunciation isn’t wrong. #PeppaEffect
— Anniina Jokinen (@AustinAni) February 15, 2019
My 5-year-old nephew only goes on holiday, NOT vacation. He's California born-and-bred. #PeppaEffect
— Dalena Nguyen (@humblehills) February 14, 2019
There’s a perception in the United States that a British accent sounds classier or somehow cuter than an American accent. At least a couple of women mentioned a desire for their (future) kids to watch the show specifically so they would pick up the accent.
So my #son has been on #sesamestreet kick but I kinda wanna switch to #PeppaPig for the #PeppaEffect it’d be so cute watching him toddle around speaking in a #britishaccent !!!! #Shameless #momandson #brits
— Keeks (@K33KZ94) February 15, 2019
Is it weird that I low key want to play Peppa non stop for my future children so they have British accents?? #PeppaEffect
— Baylee Gallert (@Gallert_53) February 14, 2019
As with anything on social media, however, there were a few naysayers.
My daughter comes up talking in this British accent like she brand new. Now I got to put on some 2pac to deprogram her. #PeppaEffect
— S3LF (@JustinS3LF) February 15, 2019
— Rachel Stephens ????✝️ (@RachelNStephens) February 14, 2019
Reason I feel like a shitty parent (today): my 3yo watches so much Peppa Pig she pronounces “Zebra” and “tomato” with a British accent.
— DFMB (@remefaso) January 24, 2019
But while imitating their favorite characters may be why the #PeppaEffect begins, it’s at least partially parents’ fault that it continues.
Dr. Emma Byrne, a neuroscientist who’s written extensively about language, told Romper than parents may unconsciously be encouraging the #PeppaEffect. The majority of their Twitter reactions evince a level of “Isn’t that adorable?” delight that parents undoubtedly express every time they hear the Queen’s English escape their child’s lips.
Those kinds of reactions are attention, and kids love attention. If they know they’ll get a laugh out of mom and dad, there’s no reason not to say “holiday” instead of “vacation.”
Eventually, kids will move on from Peppa and it’s likely that they leave their across-the-pond phrases behind. Until then, however, don’t be surprised if your kids continue to sound like junior members of Monty Python.