Schwimmericks—Book ७६—With Guest Editors Ross and Rachel SpecGram Vol CLXXXVIII, No 2 Contents Ode to Schwa—Schwadles Schw’Schwa

Schwa-Nursery Rhymes for Parental Linguists #1

Old Mʌðɚ Hʌbbɚd

Babies can be stressful, even if they’re the central part of your life. Their crying, for instance, seems to move chaotically around the vowel quadrilateral. And with little in the way of syntax or semantics, one struggles to get much in the way of theoretically informed insight out of them.

So, linguists, if you’re struggling to get your children to sleep, even when reading to them from Syntactic Structures, try some of our four-cardinal-vowel, tried-and-tested schwa-nursery rhymes.

Old Macdonald had a quadrilateral farm:
His brother had a more central farm:

Humpty-Dumpty only used schwa;
Humpty-Dumpty was not very clear.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Kept asking Humpty ‘Please say that again’.

The mouse ran up the cl[ə]ck!
The geese said, ‘Please, cease this ludicrous noise;
You sound just the same as a d[ə]ck’

There was an old linguist who lived in a schwa;
She had many great theories, the greatest by far.
But when confronted with evidence her theories fell dead
So she whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.