Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

Lost in (Amy's) Translation

The other day, Amy was talking about something that sounded like sweevers to me, and I had no idea what she was talking about. She got frustrated and burst into tears.

Today, while playing with her Noah's ark, she said the word again, and I twigged. I pointed at a zebra and asked her, "What's that called?" "A sweever," she said. Ah. Would you have guessed?

About the only thing similar were the vowels (I say zee-bra, not zeb-ra)... I mean, /s/ and /z/ are both alveolar fricatives, and /b/ and /v/ are both voiced and have a labial component... but I still had no idea what she meant the first time I heard it.

In other news, this evening I knocked on the door of Amy's playhouse and she answered, "Inside!"

That amused me :) Almost certainly a translation of German "Herein!" ("inside", in the directional sense, implying movement towards the inside, rather than in the positional sense).

In other other news, I recently heard several attempts at using a word from one language in the other, modified phonemically.

The ones I remember now are, "The girls are sitting on the veez (= Wiese)", "Und dann kam aus seiner Nase ßmok... Schmok (= smoke)", "Guck mal, Erik, der Film ist auf Swiss Deutsch!", "Daddy ist ein lejsi bumm (= lazy bum)".

That's fairly new, since in the past she's usually avoided using words from another language in her sentences.

And the last one is the most remarkable, to my mind, because I'm not sure where she got the correspondence from the sound in English mutter to the one in German Mutter (roughly, the one in English foot)—both sounds correspond in writing to the letter u, but since she can neither read nor write, I wonder what made her equate one sound with the other.

Tags: amy
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