The writing prompt for NaBloPoMo today is “what is the hardest word for you to say?”
This question brought back some bizarre and entertaining memories for me.
First of all, to answer the question, I stuggle with a few words. A big and obvious one for me is the pronunciation of the word “Tuesday.” I almost always, unless concentrating rather seriously say “Chewsday.” I had a friend point this out to me in junior high and I was enraged. But it is true. I now work very hard to say it properly. I fail at least 50% of the time. And some people point it out each time. And it is still funny.
February is another one that is rough for me.
Looking back, I can see I got this from my mother. Who pronounces the two words similarly. She also really has a rough time with cinnamon, which for her turns into cinnamonmonmonmon. I can say cinnamon, though. At least I think.
Medical terms are sometimes a struggle to pronounce too. All that latin and such. There are a few words that aren’t spoken they way they look and many that are just ridiculous. Roentgen, a measure of radiation is one of those weird words. Or sphygmomanometer, the proper term for a blood pressure cuff.
Patrick and his entire family have a unique way of speaking. They all say a few words fairly differently and similarly as a collective group. In fact, one of our international friends asked me where Patrick and his family were from. And people he met while in Montreal were shocked to discover that I did not have the same “East Coast” accent he did.
My favourite Patrick family-ism is when they all talk about their pumpkin pie (pronouncing it “punkin”). I am actually the only one who doesn’t say “punkin.” And that makes it hilarious to me while everyone else is oblivious.
As evidenced by me and my spouse, there are some learned qualities to pronunciation. Thus, the typical Newfoundland accent and the traditional Irish accent and such.
There are accent based mispronunciations too… For instance, most people who aren’t native English speakers seem to struggle with my name. And I struggle with the pronunciation of most Chinese names. All about the hidden intricacies of language. I have always marvelled at those people at university convocations that have so much practice in saying the names that they always just get them. Including the subtle intricacies of language. Like asking whether I want my last name pronounced the French or English way. Mind blowing!
I also pick up accents and pronunciations. I can conscientiously avoid it, but it is a struggle. The longer I am around a place and people, the more I pick it up.
Sometimes it starts out as mocking, but then it becomes habit. For instance, I used to say “rull good” instead of really good as a joke. But now, if I’m not careful, it slips out. Same as saying “merci” in a very English accent. And I have been known to throw out a “Yis bye” from time to time (and now, it is rarely appropriate).
My goal is for our children to speak properly. But, I guess that isn’t entirely up to us. There is some brain stuff, and coordination stuff and outside sources. But, I will do my darndest to save my child from saying “chewsday” and “punkin.”
I just hope that one day, I don’t start saying “punkin.”