As It Happens

Baby Archie may sound more like Joe Canada than Prince Charles if Royal Family moves

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's son will likely grow up with a Canadian accent if the family moves, says UBC sociolinguist Stefan Dollinger.

Sociolinguist Stefan Dollinger says the royal baby will likely have a Canadian accent

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor. (Toby Melville/Getty Images)
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As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle iron out the details of their part-time move to Canada, there are many questions swirling around about how this new royal arrangement will work. 

Where will the former "senior royals" live? Who will pay for their security? And should they even be allowed to live in Canada? 

Or there's the question posed in a recent Toronto Star article: "Will royal baby Archie grow up with a Canadian accent?"

The answer, according to University of British Columbia sociolinguist Stefan Dollinger, is yes. 

"He's going to talk to other Canadian kids, so he's most likely to acquire a standard Canadian accent," Dollinger told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

'Megxit'

The couple announced their controversial plan to step back from their royal duties in a post on social media, in what has since been dubbed "Megxit".

It initially caused chaos in the Royal Family, which was not aware of the couple's plans, but this week the Queen said that the couple would split their time between Canada and the U.K. 

That means eight-month-old Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor could grow up in Canadian schools, spending time with other Canadian children.

The Queen has agreed to let Harry and Meghan move part-time to Canada after 'constructive' royal summit. She says she would have preferred Harry and Meghan to remain full-time royals but respects wish for an independent life. (Matt Dunham/The Associated Press)

While Harry and Meghan have been very clear that they wish to step out of the royal spotlight, it's still unclear how much time they will spend in Canada  — and that will play a role in Archie's accent. 

"Does he talk more to his cousins or does he really go to a normal school here on the West Coast? Those are the things that we could use as predictors," Dollinger said. 

But being seventh in line for the throne comes with some expectations, like being a received pronunciation speaker — known colloquially as BBC English or upper-class English. 

That means Archie will have to learn a balancing act between the two. 

Less Prince Charles, more Jamie Oliver

He may be expected to speak with an English accent around the Queen, but Dollinger suggests he steers clear of his grandfather's extremely posh accent.

Since his parents are trying to become "more normal and less royal," an accent like celebrity British chef Jamie Oliver should do the trick. 

"Sort of take on these more modern urban London features," Dollinger said. 

While the accent is one consideration, Dollinger said there are also lexical differences between the two countries. 

For example, math class in England is "maths," the hood of the car is known as the "bonnet," and a wrench is a "spanner." 

What's most likely to happen, Dollinger says, is that Archie will grow up speaking in "fudged forms" — a mix between the two. 

"I think that the best advice that we can give him is that, you know, dialect and an accent is best used in the right context," Dollinger said. 

One final piece of knowledge that Dollinger said Archie will need if he grows up in Canada: snow days. 

"He might want to know what that is," he said.


Written by Sarah Jackson. Produced by Chris Harbord. 

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story stated that the British term for the hood of a car is "boot." In fact, it is "bonnet." The boot of a car is the trunk.
    Jan 16, 2020 10:33 AM ET

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