Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Story on Speaking English

Two of my eight great-grandparents were born in Sweden. They spoke Swedish at home* but pushed themselves to speak much English and insisted their children speak it as much as possible, and to speak it correctly.  "Speak English like the American children do at school," she and her siblings were told. In a mill city in the early 1900's, there was something funny about this, as there were immigrants everywhere. My great-aunt Selma protested "But they speak so many kinds of English at school.  Which one should I learn?"

"Isn't the Straw girl in your class?" The Straws were wealthy mill-owners and that school was named after the grandfather. "Speak like she does."

BTW, you can throw the word "patronizing" back at people whichever pronunciation they use, if you think they will get the joke.  "I'm sure you meant PAH-tronizing," or "I'm sure you meant PAY-tronizing" with mock condescension.

*I have mentioned the childhoods of that side of the family before, which were novelised by their cousin Jennie D Lindquist in three children's books.  The first one, The Golden Name Day,  was nominated for the Newbery in 1955.

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