Monday, September 7, 2009

sy-la-la-bles or: regional teaching

my husband and i just returned from a short but wonderful trip to charleston, wva where my grandparents and many cousins live. as we sat behind home plate at the west virginia power minor league baseball stadium and i listened to the voices around me, i realized where my speech problems stem from. my father was right. my mother and her west virginia accent ruined us. but what can you do? perhaps the real problem is that it's taken me 28 years to realize that i have these problems.

you see, this week i was sitting on the carpet in splatypus' kindergarten classroom helping with a syllable center. the children would hold up a name, say it aloud, we'd clap out the syllables, and then put sort it depending on if it 1, 2, 3, or 4 syllables.

as we clapped out the name ashley i heard my fabulous co-teacher snort in disgust.

um, she said, trying not to be rude. ashley has 2 syllables mrs. lipstick. not three.

what? no- it has 3! and with the five year olds watching i clapped out ash-a-ly.

um, no. she said, in her upstate new york way and clapped it out correctly. ash-ley.

i wanted to die. how could i not even complete a kindergarten center? am kindergarten failure. they should revoke my recently earned masters degree.

but sitting behind home plate at the west virginia power game i realized where my odd manner of speech comes from. here, i am not the only one adding on odd syllables in places even my southern husband finds odd. we listened to the hecklers and worked together to decode exactly what they were shouting to the team. it was like a brain teaser where the words are there, they've just added extra sounds. so ha! there are parts of the country where ashley is ashaley, where monster is mounster, crayon is crown, and pink is peank.

then again, when i was student teaching in rural virginia my first graders turned my one syllable last name (in the days before i was lipstick) into two syllables. i was shocked when i moved away from there and could no longer use the phrase:
when two vowels go awalkin' the first one does the talkin'

i said it once and had my first graders rolling on the floor. but somehow adding the full ing sound to the end of that just doesn't do it justice. the same happened when i said to my class, "tomorrow ya'll will have homework".

what did you call us? a little girl from india asked in horror.

perhaps this is why our teaching certificates are given by the state and not the federal government. once we learn to teach phonics in one local dialect we could completely confuse children in another, ruining their chances at reading all together.

7 comments:

From Southern Indiana said...

People from here (NOVA) to Maine do not seem to appreciate how useful a word "y'all" is -- it is just a shame.

splatypus said...

oh my god. I am so ashamed. I really need to go to the thinking spot tomorrow (possibly even turn my card).

organized chaos said...

no, you have no reason to be ashamed. i was totally confusing your little ones. i need to learn how to talk nova-style.

Snippety Gibbet said...

I love each and every dialect in our state. Hearing all the different pronunciations makes my heart sing.

That was hilarious to hear about your clapping too many syllables to the name "Ashley" though. Hehehehe........

Whenever I read a list of spelling words to kids, I sometimes see misspellings based on the odd way I have said something.

I'm surprised that with a WV background you say "y'all" instead of "you-ens"....or the plural "you-en-ses."

Anonymous said...

Oh, this is so true! When I moved out of state, I had to totally relearn phonics.

Julia said...

One of my professors in college taught me the easiest way to decide how many syllables a word has (if you're confused), is to remember that each syllable has to have a vowel- thus, in your case Ashley could only have 2 syllables since there are only 2 vowels. This helped me a lot up in Boston with their crazy accents!

Greg said...

How do I show my West Virginia roots? By mumbling a lot. And it's tough to count the number of syllables in mumbles.

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