mummy is always tired

Will The Real Arthur Please Stand Up?

on April 3, 2014

My eldest needs some elocution lessons.  Not that I am especially well spoken nor do we live in a mansion with staff and therefore require particularly enunciated speech.  But she said something the other day which stunned me into speechlessness.  “Can I have this mummy?”

“You can have it after lunch.”

“Ok, I can have it arfur then can I?”

“Who the hell is arfur?” was my stunned reply.  Who indeed is ‘Arfur’ but I wish he would go away and his better spoken twin Arthur would come over instead.  I hasten to add, I’m not an accent snob, I read English Linguistics at University so I appreciate the uniqueness of our accented isle.

I’m not sure why we’ve only just noticed her use of ‘fa’ over ‘tha’ I suppose part of it is that she has always been a little bit behind her peers in speech so we’ve just gone with whatever she comes out with, as progress.  It is perhaps unfortunate that her name ends in ‘tha’ but as she usually refers to herself by her abbreviated name it’s never really been obvious, she’s also never said ‘thank you’ it’s always been ‘da-du.’  So ‘arfur’ was really the first, obvious demonstration of the lack of ‘tha’ in her phonetic repertoire.

I tried to teach her the difference, “show me the tip of your tongue” which she showed me with great delight, followed by “show me your teeth please” – so far so good, “now, put your tongue between your teeth and go ‘tha.’”  Needless to say all I got was ‘fa’.  Ok, I thought, let’s try something else, say:  ‘thief’, ‘thought’, ‘thank’ and ‘through’ what we got in reply was: ‘fief’, ‘fought’, ‘fank’ and ‘frough’.  Oh dear – this really wasn’t going to plan, I was getting more annoyed (after all what’s not to get I know she’s only three but still!) and she was getting equally irritated by me, all she wanted was her bedtime story and instead she was getting a not so interesting and clearly badly taught lesson in phonetics.

So we started noticing other words that she just doesn’t seem to be able to grasp – oaty bar is one.  At the moment she calls it an ‘oaty barf.’   Now the only barf I’m aware of is the verb ‘to vomit.’  It doesn’t seem to matter how many times we tell her it’s not ‘barf’ she just stares at us as if we’re mad.  At the moment we don’t tell if our youngest will have the same trouble in pronunciation.  Her vocabulary is limited but she has mastered those words that she clearly feels are a necessity in her everyday life: ‘shoes’, ‘more’ and most importantly, ‘cake.’ In fact such a necessity is cake that rather embarrassingly at the last nursery parents evening she performed one her most alarming displays of anger yet by throwing herself backwards whilst being carried and with outstretched arms tried to reach the nibbles table whilst screaming ‘caaaaake, caaaaaake’ at the top of her voice.  So far, no pronunciation issues there, I think there could be no doubt that the girl wanted cake.

Meanwhile the quest to find my eldest’s missing ‘tha’ continues, luckily we have her nursery key worker on the case but I suppose up until Arthur can be found we’ll just have to make do with Arfur, his foughts and fanks and constant requests for oaty barfs.


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