Puppet Tears

Accents have a way of getting in the way of our understanding of words at times.  I realized this the other day while taking pictures of my granddaughter and her aunt as they put on a puppet show.  They had made an impromptu stage out of the little one's bed and a blanket.  They used two Wild Things puppets for their little play.

I took pictures to document the moment.  At the end of the play, I said in my Boston accent, "OK, show me the puppeteers."
Without a pause, my three-year old granddaughter raised her puppet, saying, "Waaa, Waaa."  
It wasn't until she peeked over the sheet, holding up her puppet and said, "Puppets don't cry...they smile...see!" that I realize that what she heard me ask to see was "puppet tears."  Needless to say, it cracked us all up.

The point of all this is that often we run into problems in life because one person hears something completely different from what another person has said.  It isn't necessarily a problem with actual hearing as it is a problem with how we process what we hear. Not only do accents wreak havoc with language, but also the regional definitions of words or phrases.  As an ESL teacher, I try to be acutely aware of this, but sometimes, we can't help the confusion.

Several years ago, I remember hearing about a case where two women, neighbors, were fighting.  They had been very close up to the time when one woman's daughter was getting married.  

The women had agreed to meet with a mediator.  Each was given time to recount what had happened.  It turned out that each woman was from a different country of origin, yet spoke the same language.  However, in the region of the world where the mother of the bride lived, the word used by her neighbor to describe the beauty of her daughter was actually a word that was derogatory.  Once the mediator was able to show the women the mistake, all was forgiven; peace reigned once more in the neighborhood.

All this reminds us that language is not static.  It morphs and changes. How we say a word can change from one area of a neighborhood as well as from one country to another. 

Sometimes, it takes a three-year old to remind you that puppets don't have tears, which is why I love language so much!


Hi Linda,

I LOVE this story. LOL. Kids are such great teachers aren't they? It's true that language, and inflection can cause confusion, however the tone we use is also important in communication. Animals may not necessarily understand language but they do understand tone. When we can soften our tone, we can soften our language.

Great post my friend.

Keep up the good work!
Linda said…
Thanks, Alexys!

Yes, animals are amazing that way. They also can sense when a person is sincere or not. It's quite fascinating.

I'm really working at freelancing after years of writing on the edges. Having just lost my teaching position, yet again, I am taking it as a sign from the Universe that I need to be writing at this moment.

As always, I appreciate your input.
Alv0808 said…
Hi..great post.

Kids are vulnerable in every little words we say. I remember my nephew years ago when I talked about 'bowling'. He thought I'm talking about 'ball' and keep telling his cousins the words 'balling'..lol.

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