Saturday, August 1, 2009

You Like Tomato, and I Like Tomahto

I have always been a big fan of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. In fact, the first dance at our wedding was to Cole Porter's Night and Day, which I fell in love with in the Astaire/Rogers The Gay Divorcee. One song in particular takes on a different meaning to me now - Let's Call the Whole Thing Off : You like potato, and I like potahto - You like tomato and I like tomahto....

My husband and I don't even notice our pronunciation differences most of the time. If he is feeling particularly cheeky, he will call me out on a few favorites, tomato and basil, banana, etc. But now that we have young children who are growing up here in America and spending most of their time with me during the day, it seems unquestionable that they will end up with American accents. My husband will do his best to infuse their vocabularies with Geordie though - making sure they know how to say alreet, canny, the crack, etc., leaving their teachers and other children in complete confusion.
It is inevitable for children's accents to resemble what they hear around them. If they are born in the US and hear American English on the television, radio and at home from one parent or a nanny, they are likely to pick it up, and vice versa for UK English. Expat mum/moms: what are your children like? Do they sound more like you, or have they picked up the local accent? Share your comments below!
Astaire picture copyright Boston University.

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