Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

On Giraffes

This morning, we took Amy to the hairdresser’s—her first time. And since she behaved admirably, we decided to let her choose a stuffed animal as a treat.

We had a look in the toy shop at various things; one of them was a giraffe. I asked Amy what that was, and she answered, “A /dIdZræf/”—which made me a tad sad. The consonant swapping was completely normal for her in that word (it’s been a “dijraffe” for ages), but she used a “flat A” in the second syllable rather than a “broad A”, as she used to do (and as I do—I have the TRAP–BATH split in my speech). I imagine she picked it up from a teacher or from TV/DVD, since the majority of English speakers do not have that split.

I consider it a bit prestigious, so I had hoped she would acquire it from me. (Prestige is also why I started distinguishing “wh” from “w”. Later, I decided that it was a lost cause since she wasn’t copying it from me, it was a bit unnatural for me since I had to think all the time, and it probably wasn’t all that prestigious a distinction anyway, at least not to the point of emulating it specifically—but by then, it had become almost second nature! So I had acquired it as a habit already. Anyway, I digress.)

But when talking about giraffes on other occasions during the day, she did use “broad A” a couple of times, so “all hope is not lost” :D

(Not that it would be a big deal for me, I hope; I’m so glad she’s acquiring English in the first place that I try not to concern myself if the pronunciation, the grammar, or the vocabulary she picks up don’t match mine. And after all, my father had to live with American influences in my speech, too :D)

Tags: amy, language
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