They Talk British

Pink swing tee 6

We were watching a show the other morning where there is a squirrel character called Skitter.  Hannah turned to me and said, “Mom, look!  It’s Skit-tuh!”  And I just looked at her.  She sounded so English.  She said it JUST like the English actor on the show who was with Skitter.

She sounds almost completely English every day now.  Every question is with English inflection, and many of the nursery rhymes and songs that we’ve taught her have faded and been replaced by the English versions.  (Like the Eensy Weensy Spider instead of the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

I’m not upset about this, truly.  It’s just a strange thing to look down at your child, the one who spends basically all day with you, and realize that in spite of that, they speak so differently than you do.  She gets it from TV, she gets it from her friends, but most of all, she gets it from the person she adores more than any other, Jayce.

Jayce in bow tie 7

For Jayce it’s different.  We always knew he would pick up English words and inflection really quickly, and he did, almost immediately after starting school last year.  I remember the first few times that he said something about putting the “rubbish in the bin.”  Chris and I exchanged a quick glance and then moved on with our day.

I know I’ve said before, we have a “You can call it what you want, we can call it what we want, both things are correct,” policy with Jayce, regarding “London words” vs “America words.”

The thing that is strange now though, is that there are plenty of words, particularly relating to school, that Jayce only knows the British term for.  He did 3 year old preschool for 2 mornings a week in the US, but since then has been in school in London for 5 full days a week.  So he doesn’t even remember words like “recess,” it’s only “outdoor play.”

A few others that come to mind,

The “dinner hall,” not the “lunch room.”

“PE,” not “gym class.”

“School holidays,” not “vacation.”

“The front lot/ the back field,” not “the playground.”

Sometimes he expresses himself so formally, saying things like, “Mom, I desperately need the toilet,” or “Mom said I can watch TV if I’m sensible.”

Jayce in bow tie 1

But we are entering a strange sort of transition phase, where sometimes my lack of “converting” to his words causes stumbles in the conversation.  

Like if he tells me he tripped outside and cut up his knee, and I say, “Oh, did you go to the nurse’s office for a band aid?”  he’ll say, “No, I got a plaster from the medical room.” 

A part of me wants to yell, “That’s just what I said!!”  But since he rarely wants to tell me about his day in the first place, I bite my tongue for the sake of keeping the conversation going.  

I realized recently the whole “everyone can call it what they want” thing is my rule, but not his.  Sometimes for the sake of fluid conversation with my 5 year old, I have to be the one who changes what they say, and that’s a strange thing.  

Terrible? No.  Strange? Yes.

5 thoughts on “They Talk British

  1. Annnnnd my comment above totally makes me look like a spammer that didn't even read the post… Sorry about that! My brain is fried from caring for an ill baby, so I can't make the words come. Interesting is as much as I can formulate. I suppose I can add that I love reading about different countries and cultures and language, etc.

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