Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Backing Talkwards a Bittle It

What a cutie! 

My Dad had a speech impediment.
Sometimes, he said things backwards.
Oh, he could control it.
He just chose not to.
An odd trait for someone who was such a stickler for proper pronunciation at all other times.
And don't try to tell me that doesn't have any effect on a young child learning to talk.
For years, I thought the song, Rock-a-Bye Baby went like this:
Rock a bay bybee
On the tee trop.
When the blind woes,
The radle will crock.
When the brough bakes,
The fadle will crawl.
And down will bum caby
Adle and crawl.
You're right. That's not even English.
But that's how I thought it went.
I heard some kids singing it the right way and totally confronted them.
It happened something like this:
Me: What are you singing?
Them: Rock a Bye Baby.
Me: That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.
Them: Let's play somewhere else.

As years went by, I realized that we really didn't put the dirty dishes in the washdisher.
Or that salt didn't come out of a shakesalter.
And that my favourite ice cream wasn't Scutterbotch.
Others had to find out for themselves.

My nephew, two-year-old Michael was staying with us while his parents prepared to receive his little brother.
The imminent arrival, scheduled for, at most, two weeks, stretched to six.
Leaving little, impressionable, just-learning-to-speak Michael at the mercy of his grandfather.
It was a happy six weeks.
Michael was playing cowboys.
And had dressed accordingly.
He had his gun and holster.
His boots.
His overlarge hat.
And his training pants.
He was ready.
Grandpa had just come in from outside and was sitting in his easy chair, waiting for lunch.
Michael stalked up to him in his best 'gunman' style.
"Stick 'em up!"
Oh, he was good.
Dad looked at him.
"What are you? A coy-bow?"
Okay, for years, I thought that was how it was said . . .
"No, Crumpa, gow-boy!"
"Gow-boy!" He stuck to his guns, so to speak. And his pronunciation.
Dad, one last time. "Coy-bow."
Michael was starting to get a little confused, however. "Gow-pot!"
That's when I broke in. "Michael, do you have to go potty?"
"No! No! Gow-boy!"
Dad laughed. "You're right, Michael, Gow-boy."
Michael had outlasted his grandfather.
A noble feat.
I don't want you to think that my Dad bombarded us with twisted talk all of the time.
It was the exception rather than the rule.
And he always correct us afterwards.
But it was fun while it lasted.


  1. Dad used to murder the english language just for fun too....belly jeans for jelly beans and he did the scutterbotch for butterscotch as well. Lots of fun.

  2. That is so interesting! I've never never known anyone to talk that way. Your Dad sounds like such a fun person. My Dad liked to talk in Pig Latin, but it backfired on him when we started figuring out his secret language and knew what he was telling my Mom without wanting us to know what they were talking about. :)

  3. Very funny. My dd was just telling me how her dance teacher will say "oh my lantern" in class when she is getting worn out. I asked her to repeat it at least a dozen times when I finally realized that her teacher has been saying "oh Mylanta" lol! Obviously the kids are giving her indigestion. ;)

  4. Doc does that and thinks he is sooooo originally clever :)

  5. How adorable! I love when the kids get things backwards. I suppose I still get things backwards quite often. lol

  6. Diane, what a delightful post! I loved it! I can hear your father and see your nephew, little as he is, asserting himself, and "sticking to his guns." I would have loved to be your friend growing up, if only to have listened to you daddy speak so adorably! :

  7. my parents used to make fun with me this way when I mispronounced words. I knew how they were supposed to be said but couldn't pronounce it so they repeated what
    I said till I got it right lol
    We had fun.


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