B A L E
A M K U B I
D A R A S
These were the letters my five year old had written on a piece of paper. To me they made about as much sense as those of a sight test at the optician’s, but my son explained that it was an important message. “You see, I want to go to my friend’s birthday party, so I have written that he must invite me: 'Em convidaràs, vale?'" (“You will invite me, will you not?”, in Catalan).
He had started writing “Em convidaràs” to far down on the paper and, therefore, put “vale” on top. Word order does not matter, does it? “Vale” is a castellanisme, but why should he not use it, when everybody else here does? And, of course, he writes “vale” with a /b/ and not a /v/, since that is how Catalans just like Spanish speakers tend to pronounce the word.
The sentence has many orthographic errors, but if we disregard an /n/ which has been left out, it is phonetically correct. I have had to learn to pronounce the pronoun “em” (‘me’) as “am”, but my son will one day have to learn the opposite, i.e. that you do not spell it as you pronounce it. While I have to remind myself to pronounce an unstressed /o/ as /u/, my son will never have that problem. Finally, we have the /k/ where with the time he will have to learn that this sound is written /k/ in Swedish and /c/ in Catalan. And, afterwards, that this is a general rule to which both languages have plenty of exceptions.