And so say all of us!”
This is what Mini-Me sings EVERY time she finishes singing “Happy Beffday”.
It’s completely ridiculous, but so cute that I don’t have the heart to correct her. In fact, on Friday last, while her Aunty blew out her candles, everyone started to sing Mini-Me’s version of the song. I have a feeling that it will be one of those things that will haunt her into adulthood.
And it got me thinking. Why do we automatically correct some mistakes, while accepting others?
Why do I think it’s okay for her to change the entire lyric of a song, but yet when she says “Where is her?”, I immediately correct her with “Where is she!”?
It’s not like my own speech is perfect.
I sometimes talk really quickly.
Like, really quickly.
Or so I’m told.
I’m always aware that I need to slow down, especially if I’m speaking to someone new.
It can be full speed ahead, to the point that if you’re not from lovely Donegal, there’s a good chance that you’re smiling politely at me, but you’ve no idea what I’m saying.
Why do I do this?
I have no idea.
I do make an effort to slow down obviously, but if I’m nervous or excited, I speed up dramatically.
If I’m excited and I’ve had coffee, I go to superspeed.
If I’m excited and I’ve had wine, well you had better buckle up and try to keep up!
As an English teacher, I am constantly aware of the mistakes that we make in our everyday speech. Indeed, outside of the classroom, I am happily able to slip into the colloquial dialect of my hometown. I don’t apologise for it.
I’m am however, that person who is silently correcting your grammar. I don’t mean any harm. It’s my job I suppose.
When people mispronounce words, I cringe. (I had a meeting once with a lovely lady who loved the word “specific”, but who pronounced it “pacific”.)
When my students make the (very Donegal) mistake of “I seen him down the town,” I have been known to start singing “See-Saw, See-Saw, See-Saw!!!!!” at them.
I want to throw people who like, say “like”, like a lot, out the like window.
So of course I try to teach my own girls to speak properly.
I find myself using the phrases “Slow down” or “Let me hear your words please” with Mini-Me quite frequently of late.
Her speech is generally very good. It’s never been a cause for concern for me.
She drives my brother crazy saying “Lellow“. He once spent 20 minutes teaching her “Ye-Ye-Yellow.” She proudly ended the lesson with “Ye-Ye-Lellow!”
Everything is “Bery” good and she wears a “best” instead of a vest.
I don’t stress. She’s three… (or free!).
She lost her first tooth last week and for a few days, her newly acquired lisp provided great entertainment to the adults in her life. Of course, we didn’t make her aware of the humour she was providing to us, but we had a little chuckle at the cuteness among ourselves. It passed after only a few days.
But it got me thinking.
Over the past week, I’ve found myself paying attention to the little words she mispronounces or gets completely wrong. And where I would usually automatically say the word correctly to her straight away, I’m trying to remember them.
She’s growing up so quickly and as she proceeds through the school system, those little mistakes will be rectified by her well-intentioned teachers.
Instead, when she announces that she wants another “escapode” of Peppa Pig, I smile and enjoy the fact that she’s can even try to say that word!
And for now, when she has the confidence to stand in front of a room full of people and sing “Seeeela Saalla Casello!” At the top of her voice, I let her.
(How “She’s a jolly good fellow” became “Seeeela Saalla Casello!”, I will never know).
But it is hilarious. It’s cute. It won’t last forever.
(Sometimes however, we must correct.
Like yesterday when she bumped her elbow and screamed “You hurt my Booobeeeee!”, I HAD to correct her.
I’m not even going to try to understand how she got those two particular body parts mixed up, but she did.)
Because she’s three.
And for “Seeeela Saalla Casello!” And so say all of us!
I am “SeeeelaSaallaCasello-Mum”. 😅
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2 thoughts on “I am SeelaSalaaCassello-Mum!”
As an English person living in Donegal I used to silently and unconsciously judge the “wrong” use of seen too. I’m well over it, and rightly humbled, now.
The dialect where I come from is rich and carries a history of skill, trade and relationship to the land in it- but it too is corrected by those well-meaning English teachers in school. What, though, is this concept of a static correct language? Who instituted it?
From my experiences in Donegal and Derry, I have come to see it as colonial and hierarchical.
The versions of English that exist here, shaped by their evolution from the mouths of Gaelic speakers to their children and by the requirements of life and the landscape, among other things, are to my mind correct, valuable, worthy of respect.
I understand that we want our children to be able to access all areas, to not be judged lacking by the ignorant folk whose entry to the halls of power is guaranteed them by birth.
I think, though, that it’s important to recognise that language is a tool, not a measurement. The grammatical forms available here (yous; it bes, similar to it does be, e.g. windy at the coast) along with the extra vocabulary that some people are wont to put into air quotes (thole, thran, slefty etc) fill in gaps that once discovered can’t be ignored and extend the possibilities of nuance and understanding.
Pidgin English, which we can find funny because it reminds us of children learning, usually conforms to strict grammatical rules that enhance those available in the proper form.
I recommend Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson (when life makes time for books!) – it’s funny and fascinating, and will offer a deeper, more flexible view of the language.
I love Donegal and having had to relearn “my” language to live here- (including how to speed up to match the flow of traffic!) I hope it won’t change too much.
Thanks for another great post, you Saalla Cassello!