It’s Not All Mary Poppins

A slip of the lips

What do you call that circular toy, a round piece of rigid plastic tubing that you set to spinning around your hips and try to keep up there by just the right timing of hip-swaying?

Yes, that’s what I’d call it, too.

Jazz, however, mangles pronounces it slightly differently. She spots the kid-sized one in the back porch as I go out there to retrieve some spring toys so that we may play outside in the (freakishly) warm weather. (Twenty-seven degrees! In MARCH! For five days now! Though the record-breaking hot spell is broken now: today’s high is 17, and for the rest of the week we’re back to more seasonal 0 – 10C temps. But has it been WONDERFUL? Aaaaahhhh…)

Jazz spots the thing in the back porch as I’m lifting the back of buckets and shovels, sifters and tractors.

“Oh! A hoo-er hoop! Mary, there is a hoo-er hoop!”

Snort. I’ve heard lots of weird mispronunciations in my time, but they usually make intuitive sense. I had a (much younger) cousin who used that exact same pronunciation for “squirrel”. Made for entertaining streetcar rides through Toronto, I’ll tell you, and excited two-year-old bouncing on the seat beside me and pointing out the window. “Look, Mary, look! A whore!!!”

You get quick in those situations. Before everyone on the car can be horrified that ‘my’ two-year-old not only knows the word, but can use it properly, I would leap in and ostentatiously point past the young woman on the sidewalk to the tree behind her head. “Yes, Jeremy. There is a squirrel. Squir-rel.”

“Hooo-er.” Yeah. See, all you people on the streetcar, he really is talking about the rodent! But ‘squirrel’ to ‘hoo-er’ isn’t so much of a stretch. Those initial esses are hard to pronounce, and so are ells and ‘qu’s. And there is an ‘r’ in there. Somewhere. So it’s weird, but you can see it. Sorta. But ‘hoo-er’ from ‘hula’??

Nope. How she gets ‘er’ from ‘la’ is beyond me. However, I don’t really want her bellowing that across the playground. Let’s send some other children home with a shiny new word which will sound much, much worse at home than if their earnest mommies had the visual to explain the joke.

“That’s hula, sweetie. Hooo – lllla.”

Her blue eyes fix on mine earnestly, little pink lips form the word carefully, carefully.

“Hooo-ER.”

“Hu-LA.”

“Hoo-ER.”

“Try this, lovie. La, la, la.”

“La, la, la.”

So far, so good. “Hoo, hoo, hoo.”

“Hoo, hoo, hoo.”

“Hu-hu-hu-la.”

“Hu-hu-hu-er.”

Okay, it’s clear she’s just not capable. She’s really trying, but it’s just not going to come out right. Goodness only knows how her mind/lips/tongue turn a ‘la’ into an ‘er’, but that’s what they do, and there’s no changing it today. But, just for the entertainment:

“Hula, hula, hula!”

“Whore, whore, whooore!”

We don’t take the hoop to the park.

March 21, 2012 Posted by | Jazz, the things they say! | , , , | 10 Comments