Making Sense Of English

Since Semana Santa, things have been pretty scheduled with the exception of spending as much time outside as possible. During my last two classes at the cafe, we talked about Inventions and Superstitions. It’s certainly been a learning experience planning lessons for adults each week. I have a new respect for professors that tried to be funny by putting a comic in their powerpoint. They are just trying to make the class more interesting yet us college students were too tired at 8am to appreciate that gesture. Oh well. I have no complaints though. I love making the lessons and now that we’ve gotten past typical topics of conversations including Food, Traditions, Family, etc… I can be creative with my themes.

Each week I learn something new, especially this past week with my lesson about superstitions. Did you know? 13 is also an unlucky number in Spain and combine that with Tuesday, you get the ominous combination, Tuesday the 13th. With the onset of American influences in Spanish culture, including movies, magazines, styles, etc. Friday the 13th has also become a day to fear. Another tid bit of information: If you’re a single woman in the same room as someone sweeping, run far away. If the sweeper accidentally hits the feet of the unbeknownst woman, she is bound to stay single forever.

Let’s talk about the craziness that is the English language for a second. As a native speaker, I was previously ignorant to the fact that our language, especially the pronunciation is completely nonsensical at times.

Silent letters, please. We’ll just accept you as our worst nightmare disguised in letter form. End of that story. 

By the time I go buy the groceries, I’ll have to say goodbye. Why? But seriously, why?

Some more list of words that if pronounced the slightest bit incorrectly can prove to be confusing: tin/ten, pull/pool, sheet/ship/shift/sheep, not/note, boat/bought, we’ll/will, can/can’t (say it, you probably don’t even pronounce the “t” you simply stop your word short), dog/duck, and some others.

It’s very rare that you will hear native speaker refer to their schedule, as the preferred, much easier to pronounce phrase, “time table” is chosen. 

Last but not least our tendency to pronounce “d’s” as “t’s” and vis versa is much more prevalent than I originally realized.  Would you think it is strange if you saw a word begin with “K-T?” Well yes, of course you would, those two letters sound unnatural together. Or do they? I came to realize that we say that everyday with words like, “liked, worked, asked, etc…” Alright, so in words that end in “-ed” the “d” is pronounced like a “t” right?  Wrong again, try saying “added.”  So in our first examples, those “d’s” are “t’s” yet in words like, “waiter, battery, litter, bitter, etc.” it is quite the opposite. If there’s a rule for this nonsense, I have no idea what it would be (though I’m sure there is). Poco a poco (little by little). Madness I say. I’m just glad I am a native English speaker and don’t have to try to make sense of it, as a logical adult rather than just accepting it as a naive child.

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I’m not saying that the Spanish language is a piece of cake because it certainly is not. In elementary school, we are taught that “ll” is pronounced as a “y” in Spanish. For example, the word for she, “ella” is pronounced as “eya.”  Well that’s good enough for 10 year old native English speakers learning Spanish; however, I’ve come to learn that this is certainly not the case. The “ll” sound is a new sound entirely that does not actually exist in the English language. The closest equivalent is a “y” hence our elementary school lessons, yet the actual sound is a mix between a “y” an “l” finished with a sort of “a” sound.  Kind of. I have yet to master this.

Faith Lindsay is currently participating in the CE Au Pair in Spain program.

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Comments

  1. wonderful blog post – just started tefling and cannot wait to try and explain this types of words and phrases. 😀

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