Grammar in Dr Seuss’s Fox in Socks – Part 2

This and the previous post are actually more about pronunciation, but I started with the title ‘Grammar’, so I may as well continue.

New socks. Two socks.
Whose socks? Sue’s socks.
Who sews whose socks?
Sue sews Sue’s socks.

Who sees who sew whose new socks, sir?
You see Sue sew Sue’s new socks, sir.

That’s not easy, Mr. Fox, sir.

Who comes? … Crow comes.
Slow Joe Crow comes.

Who sews crow’s clothes?
Sue sews crow’s clothes.
Slow Joe Crow sews whose clothes?
Sue’s clothes.

Sue sews socks of fox in socks now.
Slow Joe Crow sews Knox in box now.

Sue sews rose on Slow Joe Crow’s clothes.
Fox sews hose on Slow Joe Crow’s nose.

Hose goes. Rose grows.
Nose hose goes some. Crow’s rose grows some.

The words in this section sound different than the words in the previous section, for several reasons.

The first is that many of them start with /s/ (a fricative and sibilant), /h/ (a fricative) or /j/ (an approximant), which are all generally ‘softer’ sounds than the stops with which most of the words in the precious section start.

The second is that there are fewer initial consonant clusters. /s/ can combine into the most clusters, but Dr Seuss only uses /sl/ in this section (in slow). /j/ cannot be the first sound of a consonant cluster and /h/ cannot be part of a cluster at all. The other clusters are those in new (for some speakers, including me), crow, slow, clothes and grows.

The third is that many of the vowels are ‘long’ (/u:/ in new, two, who/whose, Sue etc) or diphthongs (/oʊ/ in sew, Slow Joe Crow, clothes etc).

The fourth is that there are very few final consonant clusters (comes and clothes, as well fox, socks, Knox and box), and the one single final consonant is /z/ (whose, Sue’s, sews, sees, comes, crow’s, rose, nose). (In addition, we possibly process /z/ differently when it represents a ‘grammatical’ element like a plural noun, 3sg verb, possessive or contraction than we do when it is an integral part of the word (compare seas/sees and seize).)

Text © Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P. and Random House Inc., New York used under the ‘fair dealing’ provisions of s 40(1) of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)

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