“Stick out Your Tongue”

Mama came to America and learned a few words of English during the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.  Then, after a day of labor in the sweatshop she went to night school to learn English. 

Mama said all went well until the teacher insisted that she had to pronounce the words “properly”.

Mama’s problem was the th sound—it came out as duh.  Mama told me that all of the others in the class pronounced it dee and dah but the teacher picked only on her.

The teacher told Mama, “Your tongue has to be between your teeth and not touching the top of your mouth.  Stand in front of the mirror and practice saying, the.  Be sure you can see your tongue between your teeth.”

Mama went home and stuck her tongue out so it was easily seen in the mirror.  It disgusted her.  “What boy will like me if I stick my tongue out at him?”

That was the end of Mama’s night school. 

All the rest of her life it was duh.  That, these, and those were pronounced daht, dees, and dohs.

My mama had an accent. 


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