Monday, 14 April 2014

Subtle sounds

This morning I started to describe to an Italian friend the Silent disco that my niece had had at her wedding.
"siccome in Inghilterra è vietato fare rumore dopo mezza notte.." I began. Her eyebrows shot up and she said something about" you Northerners and the No sex please we're British reputation," then we collapsed in laughter as we both realised what she had understood.
I had said that as in England it is forbidden to make noise after niece had organised a silent disco, using headphones.
I had made fare rumore sound like fare l'amore, which means to make love..I always had had a problem with mumbling, my dad was always telling me to enunciate.
Pronunciation can lead to misunderstandings. When I taught English many students had trouble distinguishing between "tusk" and "task", "uncle" and "ankle". A teacher friend that had worked all over the world told me an anecdote about students who pronounced, hat,heart, hurt ,hot,hit ,heat all in exactly the same way, ht. The same thing easily can happen to me when speaking Italian, like this morning. I find it difficult to tell if a word has a double consonant. One thing is to have an accent and cause a few laughs having coffee with a friend, another is for a professional person, like a lawyer or politician. Then it is often more advisable to have an interpreter even if you understand everything.
When I taught children I liked using stick men drawings. No artistic talent needed at all. They loved them and it was a great way to keep them busy and learning without even realising it. I got the idea from my French teacher at school, who embedded forever the extremely useful word for hedgehog in my brain.Hèrisson sounds like hairy son, with an English accent, but I don't know if the French would understand it.
The most difficult sound for me to pronounce in Italian was gli. This is used to mean the, in front of certain words, like gli sforzi, or to mean to him/her, as in gli scrisse una lettera, I wrote a letter to him.To help me and give me practise, my brother-in-law taught me to say Aglio,Oglio e parapiglia. Aglio-garlic, Oglio-the name of a river, parapiglia-confusion,commotion.
The Silent disco was amazing, I was too old to attend all of it, but we heard it was wonderful.

Ankle and uncle can be hard to distinguish

Words with double consonants have to be pronounced carefully
mollo-soak,molo-pier or jetty. palla-ball, pala-spade

It will be difficult to forget the French word for hedgehog after seeing this

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