Should DH 'correct' our children's accents?

(287 Posts)
OohMavis Mon 17-Oct-16 07:07:03

Or, rather, encourage them to speak 'properly' hmm

Because I'm not convinced he should. He obviously thinks otherwise.

DH was raised in London, me in Kent. I have a typical Kentish accent, a tiny bit on the posher side, I pronounce my Ts in most cases for example, etc. His is similar.

We live in a small town in Kent where the accent is parodied locally for being 'rough'. It's just a bit cockney really, there's nothing wrong with it imo. Since moving here though 6yo DS has started mimicking it a bit, particularly since starting school. Small things like saying 'wha'ever' instead of 'whatever'. Lots of glottal stops and elongating of words. Hard to explain without saying it out loud.

Anyway, every time he does this, DH corrects him. Not in a shouty or cross way, but he'll repeat the word back to him and DS will usually restart his sentence using 'proper' pronunciation of his own volition. He doesn't seem to mind being corrected at the moment but I can see it really annoying him before long. It would irritate me to be constantly corrected on the way I speak.

DH thinks that speaking 'properly', as he calls it, will give him an advantage when he grows up with looking for jobs, and genuinely believes that people with our accent sound more intelligent than those with a cockney one. It's strange because he's not a snob at all, he grew up poor in South London and has no idea of himself as somehow better than anyone else. His grandmother (who raised him) just made him speak properly he says, and he is glad she did.

I think it's completely natural and fine to adopt the accent of the place you live. I don't see anything wrong with DS sounding like his friends. I also think it makes DH seem like a nitpicking bore and DS will not appreciate it at all - it's not like the local accent will change, he'll have to adapt his speech all the time he spends time around his friends.

Who is BU?

superram Mon 17-Oct-16 07:09:46

I am from the North east and although I never had a hugely strong accent I have lost a little as some people didn't understand certain words. I do correct my children but have accepted I am never going to win the bath argument now I live down sarf......

MiniCooperLover Mon 17-Oct-16 07:11:04

The London cockney accent is moving further and further out and it's not travelling well. In Essex it's almost a parody of it and can sound awful so I'm with your DH. Correcting bad pronunciation for good will benefit your child.

c3pu Mon 17-Oct-16 07:12:20

I try to encourage my kids to speak the queens english... I'm totally aware it's probably a losing battle, but I can't stand them putting a K on the engine of words that end in a G (sumfink, nuffink... Grrr!)

I think there's value in what your DH is doing, but only to a point. A reasonable standard of eloquence comes in handy for job interviews etc, and dropping t's can stand out.

DerekSprechenZeDick Mon 17-Oct-16 07:12:30

Your husband is. People have accents, it's no big deal.

My nanna used to try it with me. She hates our Yorkshire accent for some reason and expects us to have hers. She's ducking Irish living in Ireland so unless we moved there it ain't happening grin

It used to get to us as we hated seeing her sometimes knowing she will spend more time correcting us than just talking to us

kenicka Mon 17-Oct-16 07:12:39

My mum constantly stopped me dropping my ts. Hated it then, pleased now. It is an ugly bit of the accent.

I've now moved north and my kids have regional accents but I like theirs!

TheSparrowhawk Mon 17-Oct-16 07:12:49

Your husband is BU. You can't bring a child to a place and then torment them for speaking with the accent of that place. It's pretty cruel. Plus he's basically acting out his insecurities on his child, which is shit parenting. Tell him to get over himself.

LittleCandle Mon 17-Oct-16 07:13:06

You are judged by the way you speak and clear pronunciation will help if you move away from the area where you grew up. I do judge people who appear to be unable or unwilling to pronounce their 't'. A colleague said something yesterday about '88' and there wasn't a single t in the word. I cringed. An accent is fine - we all have them - but at least say the words properly.

swampytiggaa Mon 17-Oct-16 07:15:35

We live in Devon. I am trying to keep my black country accent alive in the kids. Failing a bit tho ;)

Tashface Mon 17-Oct-16 07:16:07

I was a stickler for ensuring that all four of our DC used their Ts and Hs, etc. Like the OP's DH, I said the word properly after it had been mis-pronounced and then the DC in question would say it again but properly! It was all in good humour though. As they have now all reached late teens, I hear them repeatedly mispronounce words when they are talking with their mates, etc, but I really don't mind because I know that they all have the capability of speaking 'properly' on the relevant occasions, ie job interviews, etc.

ChilliMum Mon 17-Oct-16 07:16:44

Hmm i do agree with your husband. I think an accent is nice but not bad pronunciation or bad grammar.
We used to live in Kent and I can't comment on the whole area but where we were they don't use the present perfect correctly. For example "she already done it". It's awful and I correct the dc when they make this mistake same with dropping ts.
My dd still has a Kent accent but doesn't make the grammatical errors. It's possible to have a local accent but speak well.

snapcrap Mon 17-Oct-16 07:17:14

My cousin comes from a very successful, wealthy family but she speaks like a cockney builder because of the school she went to. She is a partner in a law firm and married to one of the most successful medical/research doctors in the world. So no I don't think it matters!

OhTheRoses Mon 17-Oct-16 07:17:15

So, are you saying your ds is developing that unique Ken'ish, estuarian twang peppered wiv sarf east Lundun.

I'm with your DH I think, or you could move to Sevenoaks/Tunbridge Wells.

I'm from Kent and can hear that Gravesend to Medway twang as I type. When I was a lass they still had a country burr in the deeper villages until London seeped in.

Pseudonym99 Mon 17-Oct-16 07:18:27

Estuary English its called, not Cockney. Its spoken in parts of Essex and Kent near to the Thames Estuary. Its sounds terrible. Your DH is doing your child a massive favour by correcting them.

QuiteLikely5 Mon 17-Oct-16 07:18:33

I think your dh is doing the right thing. There's no harm in it for your son it's only you who's affected by it

justabigdisco Mon 17-Oct-16 07:18:42

I'm with your DH. We live in Lancashire where the local accent is not unpleasant, but since starting school my DC has started talking in an exaggerated version of her usual accent. I'll correct when she starts dropping consonants because I know she's just got that from school.

OohMavis Mon 17-Oct-16 07:20:00

So, are you saying your ds is developing that unique Ken'ish, estuarian twang peppered wiv sarf east Lundun.

grin this made me laugh. We're in Medway actually so you're spot on.

misson Mon 17-Oct-16 07:20:03

I do a similar thing with my kids over 'ff' instead of 'th', k instead of g and dropping t's. I also correct things like ed being added incorrectly for the past tense.

My kids still have an accent, which is fine.

StrawberryQuik Mon 17-Oct-16 07:21:16

Hmmm my DM always corrected my DBro and I if we spoke with glottal stops. English is our second language though and she wanted us to learn it 'properly'

I never minded being corrected and tbh now as an adult I'm glad she did it. However it wasn't like everyone spoke like that, just the other kids and their mums so probably corrected them too. Adults don't tend to use glottal stops in the local accent (Brighton)

I know it shouldn't matter but the UK is a class obsessed country and people seem to be really judgy of glottal stops in a way that they aren't about other accent quirks.

gallicgirl Mon 17-Oct-16 07:21:43

I have a similar issue with DD. We're northerners living in Essex.
I've also been a teacher of English as a foreign language so understand the difference between accent and pronunciation.

Quite frankly, I nearly always correct DD when she misses a T and definitely correct grammar (you was!). I can hear a difference in the local accent according to age and education levels so I don't have a problem with making sure my child speaks nicely.
I'm not correcting things like the round northern 'a' versus a long southern 'aa' because I know there's no way I'll win that battle. However, neither of those sounds are wrong whereas in my mind, missing a t is incorrect pronunciation. It must make spelling more difficult too.

Employers do perceive accents differently so I think it's advantageous to model good language and pronunciation. I see your point about nit-picking and maybe your DH will have to find a compromise. Children do adapt though, look at how older children use text talk on social media ; they certainly don't talk like that in real life!

MyBreadIsEggy Mon 17-Oct-16 07:21:58

I think it's important to speak "properly" too. As long as your DH isn't correcting him in a "telling him off" kind of way, then I don't see a problem with it.
When I first came to this country (at 5 years old), I barely spoke a word of English. I learned mostly from just being integrated with British kids at school, but my mum took a liking to the TV channel "UK Gold", so I learned a lot of my English from watching shows like "Keeping Up Appearances" and "Are You Being Served" blush I speak fluent English now, with a very slight, barely noticeable accent, but my dh still takes the piss when certain words come out sounding like Hyacinth Bucket has said them blush

missyB1 Mon 17-Oct-16 07:22:25

Your husband is right. My parents always corrected me when I dropped my Ts or didn't pronounce words clearly, I do the same with my kids. Like it or not we are all judged on how we speak, first impressions and all that. It's not necessarily about accents it's more about pronunciation.

AmberEars Mon 17-Oct-16 07:23:40

I think that at this age I would support your DH, as long as he carries on doing it in a calm, non critical manner - not telling the child off.

As he gets older he'll make a choice about how to speak, and your DH will just have to accept it, but I think there is a value in making sure that a young child knows that 'wha'ever' is incorrect.

Penfold007 Mon 17-Oct-16 07:25:01

I correct my DC when they mispronounce words I think it helps with spelling as well as being understood by others.

WaxyBean Mon 17-Oct-16 07:26:19

My children have a Sarf Lahndon accent which I correct - glottal stops, not pronouncing TH etc. I don't care if they use that accent with friends but I do want them to be able to speak properly too. My mother did this with me as I was growing up, and while I sometimes slip into an accent at work for the most part I can control it.

I work in the City and regularly interview - there is definitely still a bias towards proper pronunciation.

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