Friday, September 23, 2011

Can you say blubber without smiling?

Can you still remember when you first learned to speak or write? You probably don’t; if you do, you probably don’t remember the details!

Most of us learn to speak at such a young age that our memories about it have been buried. However, not all of us learn to speak at a young age. For example, many children on the autism spectrum start to use verbal language at a later age. Some children never learn spoken language, but use typed language or learn to speak with their hands instead. Luckily there are lots of different ways of communication possible these days.

The two lovely boys I have worked with for the last couple of years both started to speak later, and both are still developing their skills. Today, I had the fantastic opportunity to enjoy the excitement of exploring language in such a fun way that the word "blubber" now has a totally new feeling associated with it. When I say blubber, I can't help but smile; I just have to think about the silliness of the word.

Two brown eyes look at me. With a big grin he says: "b-b-b-b-b-b-b-boat". We have just been reading a story about lost pirates and their treasure. My friend uses some of the words from the book to enjoy the beginning sounds of the words. He is exchanges those sounds to create other words rhyme: "b-b-b-b-b-b-b-boat, c-c-c-co-co-co-co-coat."

We have so much fun taking turns in saying the words and finding rhyming words this way. We laugh and exchange eye contact and hugs out of excitement of what you can do with sounds. Sometimes we use the same words, at other moments one of us makes a change and we start to explore the new words.

“b-b-b-br-br-br-br-br--braid beard”, he says. I thought this very cool because the pirate captain’s name was Braid Beard, and that is not an easy name in my vocabulary! From braided beard we went on to “b-b-b-bl-bl-bl-bl-bl-blurt”, and at that moment in my mind I went to “bl- bl-bl-bl-bl-blubber”. Maybe you have to try it to understand it, but blubber is a very weird word to pronounce. It is just totally silly to try to say it with a straight face. It makes you wonder how this word came to be!

Some blubber background information: in Dutch the first meaning of blubber is mud. In English the word means the fat layer between the skin and muscle of whales and other cetaceans, from which oil was made. In Dutch we also use blubber for that meaning, but because mud is more used in daily language, a Dutchman will always first connect the word to the dirty brown stuff!

Can you say "bl-bl-bl-bl-bl-blubber” without smiling? S-s-s-s-s-s-see you later, argh!

1 comment:

  1. I found an email response this morning about this piece that has to be shared!

    Hi Iris,

    I too am amused by the sound of words and your blog reminded me of a skit I used to hear on the radio ( Dr. Demento, funny songs and stuff) .

    Here's a youtube of that skit.... hope you enjoy!

    Still smiling , Scott


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