Saturday, 20 March 2010

Consonants and Folk Music

Sho' Auntie Di! Some of Tiny Bookworm's tuneless singing can be a bit baffling. I am used to hearing fragments of nursery rhymes, but it took me a while to work out what "Sho' Auntie Di" could possibly be. After a while, however, a fuller version came out, and I realized that the folk music CD in the car was beginning to make its mark. "Sho' Auntie Di, sho' Auntie Di", warbled the child, "Twenty hats and Tor ishen why". Having been listening to the Yetties on practically every car journey for the past two months, it didn't take much to decode this as "Shall Trelawney die? Here's twenty thousand Cornishmen shall know the reason why!"

The initial syllable "tor" of "Cornishmen" is an interesting one, as it is shared not only (as expected) with "tor'akes" (cornflakes: consonant cluster "fl" omitted as too difficult) but also with "tornower" (lawnmower). Most words are now converging on a more standard form, though "lant" has only recently expanded to "elephant", there is still a little confusion over "the hungry callapitter", and the African animal with a long neck is still a "wirarsh".

I'm now just hoping that TB doesn't start producing recognizable sections of some of the other songs on that CD: I'm not sure what the nursery staff would make of "The Foggy Foggy Dew" or "Still her answer to me was No", and though "John Peel" is a piece of English heritage, I'm a bit uncomfortable with humming along "from the chase to the view, from the view to the death in the morning".

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