Thursday, June 4, 2015

English is Difficult

Despite being an English teacher I am afraid that my ability to speak proper English has been destroyed. Though I know better it is easy to succumb to speaking English like a Lao person. Even when talking to other Americans I still use broken down language and refer to myself in the third person. So this is my pre-apology to everyone I talk to when I come back home. There is a good chance I will compliment you on how good your English is and speak to you in fragmented sentences. I might even throw some Laonglish into the mix and act out everything I say. I truly am sorry. But can you really blame me? English is difficult. It's no surprise that my students pronounce marriage like marry age or stomach ache like stomach H. They are excellent at sounding out words, but unfortunately English isn't that simple.

Try and read this poem out loud and you will see why my students (and I) struggle

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.
Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).

Made has not the sound of bade,
Say — said, pay — paid, laid but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,
Missiles, similes, reviles.
Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining,
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.
From “desire”: desirable — admirable from “admire”,
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
Topsham, brougham, renown, but known,
Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.

Hiccough has the sound of sup.
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!

I made a couple pronunciation mistakes myself even on words I know. How about you? Were you able to get through the whole poem without messing up?


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