Skip to content
Who's in the Video
Sarah Lyall grew up in New York City and is now London correspondent for the New York Times. She lives there with her husband, the writer Robert McCrum, and their[…]

Brits just sound better when they whine Sarah Lyall says.

Question: What makes British kids different?

Lyall:    There’s a lot of stuff. I mean, just the way they talk. English kids…  I mean, if you may listen to toddlers whining, let’s say, and one of them’s whining in an American accent, saying, “Mom! I want some water.” And then you have the English kid who’s saying, “Mommy, could I have some more water?” They just sound better whining in English. And I find, you know, my kids were sort of sounding like Little Lord Fauntleroys, and, from an early age, they sound like just completely alien children.  So, one of them, she must have been, like, 4 or 5, and she says, “Mommy, are these trousers suitable with this top?” And I just thought, “Who are you?” You know, where did that come from? So, all that is weird.  The vocabulary is weird, you know, every word.  For diapers they say nappies, and for stroller they say push chair and, you know, their nursery rhymes are different in there…  It’s just, you know, they don’t say, “achoo,” they say “[a tissue]” when they’re sneezing.  It’s just strange, like a little skewed sense of what we have and they’ve turned it around 90 degrees.