Tintinnabulation

multisyllabic

“I found some words with lotta syllables!” she announced and pulled a crumpled list out of her back pocket.

She and I have been working together for some time. Born very prematurely and with various – if not always visible – neurological challenges, she has had to work hard for every milestone, every skill, each speech-sound. At nine years old, she had good intelligibility in short words and brief phrases, but her clarity was still vulnerable in longer words or sentences.

“Hi-ppo-po-ta-mus,” she read, tapping syllables on the table. “Five!”

I smiled. This girl never needed prodding. Her internal motivation put most people to shame. If she put her mind to something, you better believe it that she’d go the distance for it, and then some. She wanted to be an actress and actresses needed good diction. She was going to make sure hers measured up.

“Ca-li-for-ni-ya and Phi-la-del-phi-a … both five! I-ma-gi-na-ry … five!”

She read several more words, repeating any one that lost a sound or two in the process. When she got it right, she repeated it again, insistent on perfection.

“My dad helped me find them,” she pointed to the list. “We had fun thinking them up in the car. We found lots of words with four … like ‘as-pa-ra-gus’ and ‘par-ti-cu-lar’, but not so many with five. Are there any words with even more, like … with six syllables?”

“Quite a few,” I smiled again. “Some you probably know.”

“Like what?”

“Responsibility.”

“Oh!” She whispered to herself and counted the syllables on her fingers, “yeah, six!”

“Capitalization”

“Like in writing?”

“Exactly like in writing. Then there’s: identification, autobiography, veterinarian, personification, generalization …”

She wrote each word down. Practiced saying it. “Do you know any weird ones with six syllables?”

“Hmm,” I nodded. “How about ‘discombobulated'”?

She laughed. “My grandma says that one.”

“How’s ‘extemporaneous'”?

She twisted her lips. “That’s not weird, just boring.”

It was my turn to laugh. “Fair enough.” I thought a moment. “Infinitesimal?”

“Not weird.”

She was going to make me work for it. “How about …” I winked, “mispronunciation?”

“Ha-ha, very funny,” she rolled her eyes. “Try again.”

She raised her eyebrows and waited. A moment ticked by as words trickled into my brain, six-syllabled but certainly not weird enough to qualify: visualization, spirituality, irregularity, disorganization, availability, cardiovascular. …

The room darkened as clouds passed over the sun and the wind picked up. The forecast promised thunderstorms. I was about to give up to a google search when a chime jangled in my window and with it came inspiration.

“I have it!” I exclaimed. “Tintinnabulation!”

 

 

For The Daily Post

Fair Share …

 

flower girl

A little girl of preschool age sits with her mom in session. She substitutes some sounds and tends to delete the ends of words, saying things like: “pe” instead of ‘pen’, “la” instead of ‘laugh’, “ha” instead of ‘hat’, “may” instead of “make”, “wabee” instead of ‘rabbit.’ Her speech can be difficult to understand, which is why she sees me for speech therapy.

Articulation aside, this girl’s language and expressive skills are up to par, and her infectiously delicious personality keeps us in stitches half the time.

We’re practicing saying word-endings by “discovering” (uncovering) and naming picture cards: “pig”, “hug”, “map”, “cat”, “man” … She pauses on the picture of the man. He is dressed in a suit and tie.

She’s been to a wedding recently as a flower girl to the bride–her mom’s cousin–and has been fascinated with weddings since. White dresses, tutus, flowing gowns, flowers, princess-wear… It enchants her to no end and she ‘plays bride’ with her dolls, marches with imaginary flowers down makeshift aisles.

“Mommy,” she pipes, pointing at the picture of the suit-clad man. “Is he getting married?” (“ee he geti mawee?”… it helps to know what she is referring to, if one is to understand …).

“Maybe,” The mother smiles.

“I want to get married, too,” the child demands.

“When you grow up you can. Who will you marry?” Mom can’t resist.

“Daddy.”

“Oh, but I already married Daddy, Sweetie. You’ll have to marry someone else.”

Storm clouds gather on the little girl’s face. “That’s not fair!” She states, hands on hips for emphasis. “You already had your turn. You have to share! It’s my turn to marry Daddy now!”

share chairhere comes the bride