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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Clarity of Speech

Small bodies are draped around my house during the Spring break after another busy night. Since their bodies are covered in clothes and we have achieved ‘dressed’ status, I am more than satisfied with progress under the circumstances. Although it’s difficult to pin point when ‘night time’ ended and ‘day’ started, I would guesstimate that it has taken us three hours to eat breakfast and dress. I contemplate the day ahead and our free social skills training. [translation = playdates] It is possible to transform the house into an image of respectability in a few intervening minutes, to present an acceptable front? I debate whether I can hold myself out as a responsible adult supervisor of a play date when I am semi comotose? My mind percolates upon the subject of liability waivers? Whether or not a child's signature is valid without parental input, when junior starts up.
“Mom! Mom! Mom!” he squalks.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” I mimic, in the hope that he will be able to tune into the concept of volume control.
“Don copy me!” he commands with indignation. “Dat iz not a nice fing to be doing to a lickle guy like me.”
“You are right. Now what did you want to ask me?”
“Oh er, yes, um, we are not turtles?”
“You’re right, we are not turtles.”
“No. Er are we not turtles?”
“No, we are not turtles.” I re-run that line trying to work out where my double negatives are taking me. It seems like an exercise in existentialism to my tiny brain capacity.
“No I am not sayin dat. I am sayin, I am askin, what it is ‘not turtles.’?”
He has gone to all this trouble to clarify his enquiry verbally, with a smidge of eye contact, a bucket load of patience and what do I have to offer in return to positively reinforce this effort?
“Um, well, er….”
My daughter helps me, “you shouldn’t be coz yur human, but yes, you are nocturnal.”

Just typical! Nothing to do with a "speech delay," everything to do with an American accent. There is a ‘C’ in nocturnal! It is the third letter! Why don’t you pronounce it? Say it out loud. I dare you! Again. Louder. Faster.

I'm lucky to have a local to "translate."


Haddayr said...

What American pronounces it without the c?

This must be a California accent. Midwesterners put in the c loud and clear.

HARUMPH. Harumph, I tell you. HARUMPH.

And very funny, I might add.

Anonymous said...

I put in the "c"... but then again I'm Canadian, eh????



Anonymous said...

HEY, even in Texas we use the "C," and we're fairly famous for dropping consonants like bullet casings. It is, however, likely to be blessed with three U's, so that it comes out like this "Nok-TEUUURRR-nl." Those crazy Californians. You know, they tend to maintain that they don't have an accent at all!

I have precisely this problem all the time. Sometimes the question itself is highly obscured, sometimes it is so illogical I can't make out how to stop the screaming because he thinks I am willfully not answering, and sometimes the question is absolutely imponderable. Thank goodness for translators, indeed. I think "well, kid, Hegel punted on that one - and you want a clear, concise answer in sight words? This could take a minute."

My older one saw a cartoon version of a Christmas Carol at day care that he found both incomprehensible and fascinating. Now I'm fielding questions about redemption, poverty, and haunting that I'm not very equipped to answer. STILL. In April.


'Dressed Status' in our house is never an issue as Beauty loves clothes and she just loves her sister Fiona to fashion advise her and dress her up all cute(no need for Trinny and Susannah). It is difficult to get the clothes off to go to bed! We have a wardrobe full of dressing up clothes, especially Disney dresses.

mysamiam said...

The beginning of this post was sooooo my house last week when the boys were home for break. I was smiling all the way through this post. Oh to finally have "dress status"!!!!! :)

Mom to Mr. Handsome said...

I'm from the midwest and there is a "C" there in nocturnal. I had a good laugh though :o)

On a different note, is your translator for hire, because there are days I feel like I need to translate myself to the other members of my family. They seem to have trouble distinguishing between "This room needs to be cleaned up" and "Please, make a bigger mess in this room."

Maybe it's the shrill exhaustion in my voice that throws them for a loop.


Michelle said...

I like no school days when we can sleep in and not change out of our pjs until noon :)

I also pronounce the "c" in nocturnal, but I can also see how it might come out sounding like "not turtles" too funny!

Whiskers said...

Great post!

Love those photos!

AshleyLeo said...

Love your little helper! And her smile just slays me.

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