Ragged Clown

It's just a shadow you're seeing that he's chasing…


You say Cwawfee, I say…

One problem with bringing up kids in countries where they speak funny is when you get homework like this:

Underline the words that have a schwa sound and circle the vowel that makes the sound.

A schwa sound? What the bloody hell is a schwa sound?

Luckily they gave us …erm…the kids…some clues:

  • (A)bout
  • Less(o)n

I doubt there are two words in the English words that have less vowel sounds in common except maybe orange and Aardvark. Neither of those words, as best as I can tell, have a schwa sound. An oo sound maybe, if you are Canadian, but no schwa sound.

Luckily, we have an older child – he talks funny too – to help. Eldest rattled off the first few words:

  • Again – Ok, I can see that. If About has schwa then maybe again has one too.
  • We argued about silent. It seemed to have something in common with Lesson but, ultimately, we decided against.
  • Problem – Wait! What?

If I squint my ears I can be persuaded that the em syllable vaguely resembles a schwa but both my oddly-spoken offspring assured me that the schwa-like syllable was the first one.

We went through a whole verbal dance.

Funny-speaking son: prwaaablem

Normal-speaking father: problem. It’s a short o. Like pot.

Funny-speaking son: Not pr’bliiim….prwaaaawblem!

Funny-speaking daughter: prwwwaaaaaawwblem!!

Eventually, I was dismissed and the funny-speaking ones decided among themselves.

Need a parent to derive the quadratic formula for you? I am there! Got a theorem that needs proving? I can do that! Need help locating the fallacies in America’s founding mythology? That’s my strong point…but locating schwa sounds…?….

You’ll need to find a different parent or a funny-speaking sibling.


5 responses to You say Cwawfee, I say…

Matt March 30, 2009

At least you said strong point instead of Spesh-ee-al-a-tee

Meagan May 1, 2009

A schwa sound actually sounds more like a fast “uh,” which is not a sound that’s covered by any other vowels. so its “uh-bout” “uh-way” “probl-uh-m” you don’t say “ay-bout” or ah-bout.” Does that make sense? No idea why they decided to call it a schwa.

    Ragged Clown December 16, 2017

    I wonder, Meagan, if your proper-speaking husband knew what a schwa sound was. I had never heard of it before.

Kevin May 1, 2009

The whole thing would be so much easier if Americans learned to speak correctly. And Yorkshiremen.

julio May 3, 2009

at least you speak the same dialect

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