Little Monkese

Ready for puddles As I was writing the subtitles for the charming Little Monkey’s most recent video, I realised how much translating Mrs. Monkeyshines and I do, without really thinking about it. It’s like he has his own dialect, Little Monkese, that takes some getting used to.

Of course, many of the Little Monkey’s pronouncements require a knowledge of what constitutes his world, meaning that you need to know your Ariellas from your Squirmtums. And there are a variety of idioms which only make sense if you’re aware of the background; for example, you might not expect him to say “You don’t like your curtain pole”. But if you know he thinks it looks “a dit bit-dit bit like a moose”, then you can understand why he might find it somewhat unsettling.

All duffelled up For a long time the Little Monkey has said “a dit bit-dit bit like” rather than “a little bit like”. I’m not sure where the extra syllable came from, but the repeated-syllable motif is common in Little Monkese. He’s started to give a bit of nuance to the repetition lately, so that the first syllable of table (“tay-tay”) has the whisper of a “b” at the end. Present participles are still clearly repeated, however, such as “go-go” rather than “going”, which does lend the verb a rather pleasing immediacy.

He’ll have a good bash at polysyllabic words, but sometimes bits fall off somewhere between his brain and his mouth, such that he can’t “memb” (remember) if he had “por’ thi'” (porridge fingers) for breakfast. Mystifyingly, he has recently started mispronouncing a few words which he used to say, if not perfectly, then at least comprehensibly; he has introduced a “kuh” sound followed by a sort of glottal stop in the place of the first syllable of, for example, banana, which is now “kuh’mama”. The deciphering of the following is left as an exercise for the reader: kuh’loon, kuh’raaf, and kuh’starsh…

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