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Jean's WUG test reminded me of a language lesson I learned from my my 2 1/2 year old (many years ago!)

My husband's native language is Maltese, and although he has mastered American English (puns, jokes, and emotive story-telling), he has never converted his "TH's" from hard "T's. Consequently, three is still "tree" and third is still 'turd", there is still "dare". One day my daughter asked for "tree" of something. She had begun saying it more often, as she was becoming more fluent in Mom's Talk and Dad's Talk. I panicked that she was heading down a dark and slippery slope toward incorrect pronunciation, so I took swift action. "Honey," I said, "where Daddy comes from they don't say "TH" in their words; only "T". So its hard for Daddy to make his tongue make the "TH" that we use in the United States. He's very smart and very funny, but not all his words are quite the right way to say them here." I didn't want to imply that he was wrong or language-lazy. I analyzed what I said to her from every angle, and concluded that, at her age, it was too heavy-handed, over-kill and that it probably didn't mean anything to her and that there was no father-daughter harm done, anyway. I had assauged any guilt and finally fell asleep.
 We had pancakes for breakfast the next morning. She climbed into her booster chair, surveyed the table and asked for the maple syrup and buh-ther! All hard "t"s were deleted from her language. Hmmm, my rule on the English langage was a bit too broad, and my daughter was aparently quite literal. So I said the only thing I could think of, throwing my beloved Husband under the bus, "Just... say words... the way I do." To this day, she speaks to me as I speak. And she and my husband speak and text(!)in their Maltese-English: se-VEN-tees = 70's, haTRAK = hat-trick in Hockey, and Hatchback of Notra Dame = their favorit Disney movie, "Hunchback of Notra Dame"! I am the occassional interperter of the impossible words: russian-ing is rationing, co-noylial is Colonial and manerating is marinating, but I am not the final word on HOW it should be said.