Monday, February 02, 2009

'F' Words

Re-ordering our bookshelves yesterday, my son and I discovered a Dr. Seuss book I don't remember buying for him. Oh Say Can You Say is like Fox in Socks, in that the books are essentially a series of increasingly more complex tongue-twisters.

I have to confess that I've never had any problems in reading aloud either book. I don't stumble or mix up the words but then I'm not a 5-10 year old. There's no reason for this flush of pride that I can see creeping up my cheeks.

On the other hand, I noticed that though I didn't disgrace myself, I did have the teeniest problem with the chapter titled 'Fritz Food'. For those of you who don't know, this is how it ends:

"I'm a Fred-fed Fritz,
Fred's a Fritz-fed Fred."

And this in turn reminded me that I am supposed to have routinely substituted an 's' for an 'f' when I was a kid. (This is not something I remember by myself-it constitutes one of those memories that you think are yours only because someone's re-told something so many times to you.) Most especially, I used to say 'san' for 'fan' but have no memory - it not having been reinforced - of saying 'sather' or 'suppose I sought with you today, does it mean we are kattis sorever?'

I also don't remember that second 'f's were a problem. Which means I most certainly did not say 'sulsilled' though it is not clear whether I said 'sulfilled' instead (as in, 'Amma, I have fulfilled the bucket'.*)

We all have our fumbles with the language, and it's all fascinating.

All of this caused a friend to wonder if I did the reverse - substitute an 'f' for an 's': 'Fing a Fong os Fixfence".

No, I didn't! That totally sucks, don't you think?

*This is true and it is not cute, though I admit I may have put it in just so someone can say it, in which case I might - though only secretly - curl my lip a bit.)


ray said...


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BTW I help out some ex-IIMA guys who with another batch mate run where you can post links to your most loved blog-posts. Rambhai was the chaiwala at IIMA and it is a site where users can themselves share links to blog posts etc and other can find and vote on them. The best make it to the homepage!

This way you can reach out to rambhai readers some of whom could become your ardent fans.. who knows.. :)


Falstaff said...

So, if I made the obvious joke about substituting f with s, would it be sunny, or would it suck?

??! said...

So you didn't invert them? That would have been so much fun. Imagine, in moments of stress you could have been shouting out what sounded like 'sore suckfffake'.

km said...

If you are interested, you should read Steven Pinker ("The Language Instinct").

Banno said...

Fo, fo, fhweet!

dipali said...

I had a nursery student whose did the same- he'd say 'penfil' and needed to go and do 'fufu'. And i was always 'Miff'.
Rather appropriate, don't you think?
(Though I was actually never miffed with him- he was one scrubbed clean looking piglet of a little kid- must be in college now).

Space Bar said...

Sorry, all. Just in case you thought I was being rude and ignoring all of you, I've just been too caught up to reply to comments.

kbpm said...

salftass is too sunny for words.

niece and nephew were famous for not being able to deal with ra. despite both their name starting with that consonant. they went ya for ra. which meant my mums name was Yama!!