Sibling rivalries are just a part of having siblings. Whether you’re the younger sibling or the older sibling, you inevitably go out of your way at one point or another to prove you’re better at something. For these three kids, the name of the game was a pronunciation contest. The word they had to pronounce was “pneumonia.” And let’s just say, they failed pretty spectacularly to begin with.
Mom has some bad news: Dad is sick in the hospital. He’s going to be fine, but he does have pneumonia. But before Mom tells the kids what pneumonia is, she writes it down and has the three of them try to guess how to pronounce it. The results are totally absurd. I’ll admit, pneumonia is a hard word to pronounce. There’s a lot of unusual letter combinations. Some of the letters are basically useless and completely silent. Needless to say, it’s understandable that these kids had such a hard time trying to figure out how the word is pronounced. Mom knew exactly what she was doing when she set this particular challenge.
The first to guess is the youngest daughter. She gets close, but “new-mona” is not quite right. Her older sister, meanwhile, decides to guess. Her guess is even farther off the mark: “new-mon-ee-a.” Her brother KNOWS that’s not right. He counters passionately: “No! It’s ‘ni-oh-mee-uh.'” That once is, perhaps, the most wrong guess of all. But this is the guess that he and his older sister decide are the correct one. They begin chanting in triumph.
But their little sister isn’t completely convinced. She keeps trying different pronunciations while her older sister tries to correct her with “ni-oh-mee-uh.” The longer she says it, the less convinced her younger brother looks. But she’s confident. Mom, however, decides to shake her daughter’s confidence. She says, “are you sure?” Her daughter nods yes, but it seems like she might be a little less confident than she’s letting on. Her brother tries another couple strange pronunciations before he’s interrupted by the triumphant cries of his younger sister.
At last, she says “pneumonia!” Mom cries out in joy and surprise that her youngest was able to outsmart her older siblings. Meanwhile, her oldest daughter hears the REAL pronunciation of pneumonia and nods her agreement. But then, when asked to say it herself, she again says “ni-oh-mee-uh.” The youngest daughter tries to repeat pneumonia over and over again, but she can’t seem to get it right again. It’s fair. Pneumonia is a hard word to say, especially considering that silent P. The English language doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense.
Well, that little girl managed to show up her older siblings this time. Next time, who knows who will be the victor. Maybe that determined older sister will get it right next time. Until then, she’ll have to live in her younger sister’s tall shadow.
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