for Will and anyone else interested —
So my parents are planning on getting my little brother speech therapy based on what the pediatrician said, and while I don’t think there are serious issues I think it could help — BUT when talking about it, my mom’s big reason for wanting it was so he…
- What’s the proper name for the “th” to “f” thing?
It’s replacing a (voiceless) dental fricative (‘th’), written as /θ/ in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) with a (voiceless) labio-dental one (‘f’), handily written as /f/ in IPA. In practical terms, this means that instead of making the /θ/ sound with your tongue against your top teeth, you make it with your bottom lip between your teeth. The name for it is ‘th-fronting’, because linguists classify sounds partly based on how far forward in the mouth they are produced, and /f/ is slightly further forward. There’s an exactly equivalent replacement of the voiced dental fricative /ð/ (‘th’ in ‘they’) with voiced labio-dental /v/. It’s a feature of the Cockney accent, but not that many other places in the UK (I don’t *think* it’s Scottish/Irish).
- Am I talking about a dialect, idiolect, or what?
Might be both. Idiolect is your own speech, the particular way you personally say things. A dialect consists of the features common to a number of people in an area. So if it’s just them who says it, and no one else in the area, it’s their idiolect, I suppose, but if it’s a feature of that area it’s also a dialect. To be more precise, it’s a feature of their accent, and a person’s accent is one part of their dialect (which includes grammar, vocabulary etc as well).
- Why DID only half the children in the family pick up that way of talking?
No idea… did they have friends who spoke that way while your mum didn’t? What accent you pick up is often conditioned a lot by your social group, and how you want to identify. If they sub-consciously or consciously wanted to identify as more part of that particular community that speaks that way, they’d have picked it up easier.