A Marmite relationship

Watch one of the men in charge of a display of birds of prey! He strides around the ring, talking non-stop in an informative but colloquial style about the birds, while his colleague gets the birds to fly. As the speaker comes closer, the sound quality from his amplification system is a bit distorted. He is referring to one of the birds and – still walking and talking at speed – he comments that he has a ‘Marmite relationship’ with the bird which is out at that moment.

Through my mind flashes ‘you love it or you hate it’ and I presume he means that the  bird doesn’t like him as much as the other handler. The unknown toddler in front of me can’t be making anything of the commentary really. But Marmite – he knows that word! He exclaims like an echo ‘Marmite!’ as if he’s encountered an old friend.

I guess we are primed to pick out words we know and attempt to make sense of them! All the more reason to introduce children to words carefully and make sure they say them clearly, and know they can have hidden extra meanings sometimes!

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