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:
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.