Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Can you say "Mommy"?

Because I can't! Apparently I called my mother "mommy" for the first two years of my life (as that's what she called herself) but then went to nursery and it became Mummy, and then later Mum, though it's switched back, but I refer to her as "my mum" or "my mother".

In US English the vowel sounds in "cot" and "caught" are the same - so words that are spelled as if they should be pronounced with a short /o/* are actually pronounced with more of an /a/. The sound isn't, however, quite like the British English "caught" so, as I notice that kind of thing, I notice that when I try to say "mommy" I don't sound like Americans do when they say the word. There are about 15 vowels in US English and 20 in British English, if you are interested. Unfortunately it doesn't make the job of learning to read or spell easier for US children as the phoneme**/grapheme*** correspondence is no more direct.

Since my mother gave up being Mommy quite some time ago, this wouldn't be a problem - if it weren't for the (no doubt annoying to mothers) habit of professionals who work with children of referring to the mother of the child as Mommy/Mummy. "Give it to Mum, now". "Let's see which doll Mummy has!". "Mummy, could you just open the box and show her what's inside?". I'm sure this grates just as much as "Ooh, you mustn't do X, it's bad for Baby". So shoot me, I can't always remember Mummy's name in the thick of a session. And you do need to use it to tell the child what to do: "Can you sit on Mummy's lap now and watch the pictures?".

So if you come across some confused children in this part of the world, it's probably because I'm getting involved in some assessment sessions with them...

Today's ICLW comments (it's I for International people NOT N for National, just saying!):
Elusive BFP
The Binky Diaries
Planning Doesn't Work
I Believe in Miracles
Production not Reproduction

If anyone knows of a way to track comments you have written - at least through Blogger - I'd be happy to hear about it. Just realised I commented on at least two of these already, not that it's bad but just like to spread it around!

*letters between slash marks = individual sounds in words, for the uninitiated.
**speech sound, which can be spelled with more than one letter
***representation of speech sound in letters, which can be more than one letter e.g. TH is just one sound, so is AW, and so is A_E as in GAME.

9 comments:

I Believe in Miracles said...

I love the differences in pronounciations. It's fun to hear. Sometimes it is amazing that we're all speaking English.

Thanks for the tip on the recipe website. I cannot wait to go check it out. And thanks for stopping by.

heather.pnr said...

Thanks for stopping by earlier today.

I'm really enjoying your adoption posts--I'll definitely be back. Finding new blog reads is one of my favorite parts of ICLW. :)

seriously? said...

I have a crew of people on my ambulance and two are british ex-pats. Sometimes, we have the hardest time understanding each other... makes me laugh we speak english, just not the same english.

ICLW.

Kristin said...

I have always been fascinated in the differences between US English and British English...both in word usage and pronunciation.

Cara said...

I minored in linguistics in college and studied the grammitcal and verbal structures of many languages (FASCINATING!), but the most pleasure I get from English right now is hearing, "MAMA" bellowed from the other room (bested only by my three year old's improper use of pronouns!)

"Mama, you going to go get she?"

ILCW

Martha said...

My friend's mom was from Denmark and called her "Moor", always loved that. Thanks for sharing *ILCW*

Country Chick said...

You know what they say - "2 nations separated by a common language" !

Portraits In Sepia said...

I love the differences in languages and in sounds among the different English dialects. My husband, after 7 years in the US still pronounced words according to how the same letters and letter-combinations would be pronounced in Spanish.

Here from ICLW

Sharon said...

Hello from ICLW! Another thing to think about are names for our grandparents....we have Gram, MiMi, Grampy, Gramps, Nana and so forth...I know...another blog all together!