Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dinner Menu: Pasta with a Side of Linguistics, Hold the Expertise

At dinner, the kids were quizzing each other on what sounds different letters make. (Unprompted by me, I might add. Because I'm not above initiating that sort of thing when there's a lull in the conversation. I thought it was pretty cool that they were doing this on their own.)

Never one to miss a chance to grind an educational point into the ground, I joined in. "What two letters make a shhh sound together?" I asked.

"S and E!" Sean replied proudly.

"No, not those two letters, " I answered primly. "S is one, what's the other... Oh. Okay, let me explain this." See, I do catch on eventually.

"Your name, Sean, is actually an Irish name. In the Irish language, S and E do make a 'shh' sound when they're next to each other in a word. But in English, those two letters usually make a different sound."

Picture the blankest of stares in response. Time for visual aids.

"Here's another way to write your name [writes in my best printing, which is still fairly awful]: Shawn. And like this: Shaun. So Sean, Shawn, and Shaun have different spellings, but they all sound the same!"

Either he was humoring me, or the lightbulb popped on. "Oh, I get it! So S and H make the shhh sound in Shaun."

I guess it's a good thing we didn't choose Siobhan as Allie's name.