The family visited the old college campus yesterday to meet an old friend. While walking the grounds, Alex asked me if you had to take math as a student. I told her that it's probably different now, but when I was a student I took linguistics to get out of a math requirement, and it was a total farce that I regretted now.
"What's linguistics?" she asked. I explained that it's the study of language, but most of the tests were really just simple grammar exercises, and anyone who could recognize whether "I bringed my lunch" or "I brought my lunch" had a good chance of doing well in this class. This called to mind one day when the professor was discussing the "sph" phoneme, and how "sphere" was the only example in English.
I told Alex that I immediately thought of the word "sphincter" but didn't want to draw attention to myself.
"What's a sphincter?" she asked.
I paused, aimed and poked. Alex yelled "YIIIIIIIIiiiiiiIIII!!"
Andrew perked up. "What? What did you say?"
"Alex wanted to know what a sphincter was."
"What IS it?"
"TELL HIM, DAD!"