November 29, 2005

In the car: a 0.1-act play

E is six years old. M is his mother. M is driving, E is in the back seat.

E:     How many vowels are in "yay"?
M:     Well, that's interesting.  Yay has a diphthong, which is when two vowels are stuck together.  you can hear it if you say it slowly:  Yaaaaaeeeee.
E:     Yaaaaeeeee.  Yaaaaeeee.  Yeah, I hear it.  Are there any diphthongs in "diphthong"?
M:     No, there are only the vowels [ɪ] in dip  and [ɔ] in thong.
E:     Oh, that's too bad.  You know that there's an er-sister (the kindergarten term for an r-colored vowel) in 'sister'.  That's cool.  What are some other diphthongs?
M:     Well, there's the ow in cow--hear it  Kaaaaaaauuuuuu   and there's .....
E:     Are we almost home?

[Script submitted by Mark Seidenberg. Another phonemic awareness story is here.]

Posted by Mark Liberman at November 29, 2005 01:28 PM