Elocution lessons for our American daughter?

(260 Posts)
VintageRainBoots Mon 19-Nov-12 03:49:19

Our five year old daughter will soon start school in the UK. She was born in US, has only lived in the US, and has so far been educated in the US. As a result, she speaks with an American accent.

My concern is that there are a few sounds that she still needs to work on, and moving to a different country with different speech patterns may complicate things for her. For example, she cannot pronounce the "r", as in "star" or "very." Could elocution lessons in the UK help her pronounce words the American way? That is, can a British speech therapist help her learn to say the American "star" or will she be taught the British version (which sounds a lot like "stah" to our uncivilized American ears)?

In addition, she's only recently mastered the "th" sound (before, she was approximated "th" with a "d" so that "them" was pronounced "dem"). However, I hear a lot of folks around town (and more often in London) pronouncing "th" with an "f" or "v" rather than the American "th". We spent a fair amount of time helping her with her "th" sounds; I would hate to see all that work amount to naught if she's in a class with students who use "v" or "f" instead.

So, will elocution lessons help her?

Along those same lines, does anyone have a recommendation for a speech therapist or elocution coach near Guildford?

Hamishbear Mon 19-Nov-12 10:10:38

Ah Aldershot, you'll find the father's have shiny euonymuses there too smile As well as a good RP accent no doubt.

Hamishbear Mon 19-Nov-12 10:11:26

Fathers even.

RichTeas Mon 19-Nov-12 10:52:55

lljkk, your DH is doing the right thing. In the US everyone says compuu'der, whereas here saying compu'uh marks you out as a bit of a thicko.

notcitrus Mon 19-Nov-12 11:10:48

Chill out, OP. Within weeks she'll talk like her peers at school and more like you at home. My ds is 4 and at nursery picks up a strong Sarf Lahndan accent and dialect, but after one reminder that 'peanut butter' has Ts in if he wants some, he uses more standard English at home. I figure code switching ability will be useful in later life.

Also I'm not a.speech expert,but isn't it normal for a 5yo anywhere to have difficulty with r and th sounds? I think it's only around 7 most children can do them.

RubberNeckerNicker Mon 19-Nov-12 11:24:57

There is more than a touch of Estuary in the Woking accent, and that is easy spitting distance of Guildford.

And ROFL at the thought of Aldershot being naice!

VintageRainBoots Mon 19-Nov-12 11:31:48

happygardening: She no longer uses the "d" sound for "th." In the US, it often happens that young children mispronounce "th" as "d".

forevergreek: The standard way to pronounce herbs in the US is " 'erbs" without a vocalized h. Since the word comes from French, and the French don't pronounce the h in herbs, either, it makes the most sense to not pronounce it at all.

VintageRainBoots Mon 19-Nov-12 11:35:26

Also, what does "naice" mean? I see it on mumsnet all the time, but I have no idea what it means.

RichTeas Mon 19-Nov-12 11:36:46

Vintage, outside the US you won't do yourself any favours by dropping the h in herbs. It really sounds moronic, French or not.

RichTeas Mon 19-Nov-12 11:37:49

naice is nice

BananaramaLlama Mon 19-Nov-12 11:42:42

You could move to Scotland, lovely r sounds up here. Our choir conductor was praising our lovely rolled rrrrs, which he can't manage.

Are you only in the uk for a short time? Is that why you are concerned about it? Maybe a us / international school? (I have no idea if that's possible near Guildford, just see people mentioning them on the living overseas board).

RichTeas Mon 19-Nov-12 11:47:48

Lovely everything up there in Scotland, Banana!

LadyMargolotta Mon 19-Nov-12 11:48:15

I had elocuation lessons as a child. And speech therapy before that. The elocution did give me confidence in speaking, and helped me to speak more clearly.

I don't see why elocution would give your daughter a complex - far from it. I enjoyed it.

LadyMargolotta Mon 19-Nov-12 11:49:08

I've only ever seen 'naice' on mumsnet - referring to expensive ham. It's just a posher way of pronouncing 'nice'.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 19-Nov-12 11:49:39

You want a speech therapist if she has problems enunciating certain sounds.
I'm sure a therapist can find words in which the English enunciate 'r'

Elocution lessons nowadays are about speaking clearly and confidently in your own natural accent. Different thing entirely.

My DD has been born and raised in Lancashire, she had a nanny with a lovely rural lancs accent, all her friends and most teachers had Lancs accents... she gets mildly ribbed because despite all this her accent is southern (mostly my Essex, unfortunately, not DHs neutral).

I'd guess if your child picks up accents from British peers, she is equally likely to re-adopt her American accent when you go back there, especially as that is what she hears at home. Or she may be like mine and stick with your accent. Probably best not to worry about that.

The 'th' thing - The 'd' sound tends to be on hard 'th' (them) whereas the f/v thing gets done to soft 'th' (three sounding like free). The particular confusion you're worried about may not be an issue.

Anyway, hope she settles in and has a lovely time here smile

GrimmaTheNome Mon 19-Nov-12 11:52:37

>Also, what does "naice" mean? I see it on mumsnet all the time, but I have no idea what it means.

Its a joke. Faux posh pronunciation. If you ever find it written on a shopping list abandoned in a trolley you'll know a MNer is nearby grin

Fairylea Mon 19-Nov-12 11:53:22

Off track but naice reminds me of the way Borat says nice. That's where I thought it had come from !!

RichTeas Mon 19-Nov-12 11:59:57

Griima, do MN-ers do that? ... write naice on a shopping list and leave it in a trolley?

VintageRainBoots Mon 19-Nov-12 12:00:28

Regarding the pronunciation of "herb": The dictionary provides the following note on its etymology:

Middle English: via Old French from Latin herba 'grass, green crops, herb'. Although herb has always been spelled with an h, pronunciation without it was usual until the 19th century and is still standard in the US.

The vocalized "h" at the beginning is a relatively new change to the word, and it appears to only happened in Britain. We Americans kept the original pronunciation.

RichTeas Mon 19-Nov-12 12:01:02

Fairylea, verrry naice. Verrry naice. Hadn't thought of that before smile

MrsMelon Mon 19-Nov-12 12:02:03

TASIS is an American school in Egham, about 25 mins depending on traffic. She will be safe from the foreigners there smile.

Really, she needs to start saying pavement, herbs, aluminium, rubbish etc, while she is over here. I think you will confuse her by being strict - the poster upthread who taught about the differences and then left it at that speaks a lot of sense.

I think you need to relax about her accent. We lived in NZ for a year as children and my sister and I picked up really broad kiwi accents for the duration. On returning to the UK, we dropped them almost immediately and now both speak RP again.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 19-Nov-12 12:02:51

>Griima, do MN-ers do that? ... write naice on a shopping list and leave it in a trolley?
I hope so <wistful>. I'd really like to find a list including naice ham, fruit shoots and pombears. (wanders way OT)

RichTeas Mon 19-Nov-12 12:06:05

Vintage, thanks for the etymology, I didn't know that the US form was closer to the latin. Nevertheless, I still contend 'erb sounds a bit silly in the UK; we know what you mean but we just think why drop the h. You wouldn't say, oh we found a lovely 'Otel in France, would you.

RichTeas Mon 19-Nov-12 12:07:29

Grima smile smile smile

MariaMandarin Mon 19-Nov-12 12:09:37

"The vocalized "h" at the beginning is a relatively new change to the word, and it appears to only happened in Britain. We Americans kept the original pronunciation."

Which means exactly nothing. Until the 18 th century it was perfectly polite to refer to your vagina as a your cunt, but try teaching you daughter that on the grounds of historical accuracy and see how far it gets you.

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