Friday, May 14, 2010

Pronunciation matters

Lots of 2-year-olds have trouble with the 'er' sound. The 'el' sound too, for that matter.

I'm guessing that 'er' and 'el' are the toughest sounds to reproduce for young talkers. I don't have any hard data in front of me, but I've heard enough jibberish from my son and other 2s to know this is the case. It's at least common enough that Sesame Street has a character, Baby Bear, who has a similar speech pattern.

When speaking, Tate usually just skips those sounds altogether, to mostly cute effect.

'Pork' becomes pok.
'Dora' becomes Doa.
'Bird' becomes bud.
'Blue' becomes boo.

You get the idea. In fact, if you ever want to imitate a toddler talking, the best way is to just leave out the r's and l's and speak normally. Not sure why such knowledge would ever come in handy, but maybe you could pretend what would it would sound like if toddlers ran your next meeting. Or maybe you experience that already. I digress.

Anyway, Tate's underdeveloped speech occasionally makes for some embarrassing moments. Like when we were at the Ole Miss baseball game and Tate excitedly pointed to the large flags out behind center field. "Look at the f--s, dah-dee! Look at those big f--s! That's a lot of f--s!"

At least LSU was on the field at the time.

And then there's this morning, when I'm teaching Tate new colors on his way to school.

"What color is that truck, Tate?"
"White!"

"Right! What color is that car, Tate?"
"Geen!"

"Right! What color is that doggie, Tate?"
"Ya-woh"

"Right! What color is that car, Tate?"
"Back! Dats a dah-dee coa (car)! Yeah!"

"Right! what kind of car is daddy's car?
"Mustang! It go fast!"

Tate loves my car almost as much as I do.

Now we're pulling into the daycare. Other moms in their minivans are there, unloading their kids, walking them inside. I go and get Tate out of the back. He's still fired up about colors and cars. As I'm pulling him out of his car seat, I ask him "What color is daddy's car?"

"Ummmmm..."

"Gray!" I tell him -- and really, I sort of knew as the words left my mouth that this was...bad.

"GAY!" he shouts. "Dah-dee has a GAY MUSTANG!"

The mom in the minivan closest to us grinned, which, unfortunately, Tate saw. "That's a GAY coa!" he said to her, pointing at my pavement-scorching, 340-horsepower, 4.6 liter, high performance-tuned, gray Mustang GT.

"Really?" she said, through stifled giggles. "That's a very nice car, isn't it?"

"Yeah! It's gay and go fast!"

He went on to tell another mom and her kid the same thing before we even got into the school. Next time I'll know to tell him the color of daddy's car is 'awesome'.

But I digress.