People have been calling me Plosive Paul lately, largely cos I be poppin ps perpetually.
My bilabial occlusives, I’m told, are particularly aspirated. In phonetic script they look like this: /pʰ/ – which means air shoots from my gob at top speed with words such as pup or pip, as if I’m trying to spit out a piece of peppery poppadom or crepe … it’s crap.
Since being prepped on it I can’t help noticing – I’m looking to wrap it up, to stop; I’ve even considered getting an op.
While the escaping pop isn’t quite enough to knock propped-up postcards from mantlepieces, I’ve thought about procuring a Popper Stopper, those circular, black things on the front of microphones – with the help of a bendy coat hanger, I could wear one like a harmonica holder, like Bob Dylan, except I’d look like a proper prick.
And it wouldn’t be practical – I’d be caught on the hop, given these stops with rapid pops crop up pretty frequently.
It’s got on top of me, not least because I usually lop off the ends of words. I deal with my ts in the Aberdeen way, the guiding principle being: let them drop, or use a glottal stop.
So I don’t have a computer but a compu–er; I’m not a commuter but a commu–er; I don’t think something’s shit, but shi–; this t-culling happens a lo–: it’s jus– par– of being Sco––ish.
In the past, I didn’t feel the leas– bi– self-conscious rabi––ing on abou– my penchan– for Pulp’s grea–es– hi–s. Now I just think: tha– sounds crap, ya plosive pap.
I rue my missing ts because – in a cruel twist of fate – some Australians rock ts that would fear you. They rattle brittly from the end of words but also at the start and middle. As with my ps, these plosive ts are airy – /tʰ/ – with killer aspiration.
I’ve tried to ignore it, sweep it under the carpet. Of course, I take it – what choice do I have? – but it makes me uptight. It’s tantamount to a clout in the snout – or worse.
In layman’s terms the /tʰ/ sounds like “tih”, so listening to the news on earphones can feel somewhat-ih like a baseball bat-ih being whacked-ih off your nut-ih; it-ih’s almost-ih like being knocked-ih out-ih, mate-ih – what-ih’s it-ih all about-ih?
It might be a posho thing, because you only hear it in some places, but it puts the t squarely in WTF?
From an evolutionary point of view, Scotland and Australia are better off at opposite ends of the planet: running such volatile ps and ts together could change things from plosive to explosive in no time: one minute you’re giving it Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers; the next it’s: kaboom, ya Tupperware poop-face twat.
Even on a good day you’d keel over – it’s way too much air for a single person to expel, your pulmonary pipework would collapse.
Or perhaps not.
Maybe I could practise, pioneer, if a pal or mate put me up to it …
I’ll shut up.
First published on Innocent in Australia, 2011