Petra’s Idiolect

As Petra gets older and more linguistically sophisticated, she loses more and more of her idiosyncratic baby language. Fortunately for the sentimental members of the family, she still has a few quirks left. Her ‘th’ sound is still an ‘s’. So thin sounds like ‘sin’ and thick is ‘sick’ and so on – which can be confusing to the unwary listener. Her b’s and v’s are interchangeable as well. She’d go well in Costa Rica where ‘vamos’ is pronounced ‘bamo’. And she says ‘sumpin’ instead of ‘something’.

My favourite of her tricks though, is when she reverses and mixes up consonants in words. She’s not afraid to give long words a go and she comes up with some really lovely coinages as she tries to deal with all the syllables. A couple of my favourites are: ‘be able to,’ which becomes ‘a bable to’ and pohutukawa (a native tree), which becomes ‘hutufukawa’.

Long may her inventiveness last.

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