Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Once upon a time I tried to learn French.  I was a complete failure.  I was stumped by the Gallic way of spelling words with miles of vowels and consonants but only pronouncing a few of them.  What's up with that?

Then I moved to Mexico for five years and endeavored to learn Spanish.  I think it's a much easier language to learn, perhaps the easiest.  But I was living with mostly U.S. and Canadian ex-pats  and most of them didn't bother learning Spanish.  They just raised their voices as they continued speaking English, apparently surmising that volume would make them understood.

I had my vocabulary of a couple of hundred words which enabled me to fill my car with gasoline, order in restaurants and shop in grocery stores.  But if, for example, the water heater broke - I was lost again.  Once something did happen to our water system and a couple of big guys from the city were about to turn off our supply because we were "using too much".  I made them understand that they should wait a moment while I ran down the block to a neighborhood market and return with my Mexican friend who was fluent in both English and Spanish.

All of this confessional venting comes about because I was looking at the title of this post:  WEDNESDAY.  Now think about it.  Shouldn't that be spelled Whensday?  Or even Wensday?  That's how we pronounce it.  Not Wed-ness-day.

And don't even get me started on FEBRUARY!


  1. The problem is not in the spelling, it's just that you Americans don't know how to talk proper!

  2. Didn't Esperanto try to solve that problem of words not sounding like they are spelled? But for some reason it never became established as a universal language. Maybe people are too sentimental about the way words look in their language, regardless of whether it makes sense to pronounce them completely differently?

  3. A friend was invited to dinner to meet a visiting Chinese artist. He and the host arrived and our friend stood to shake hands. The artist bowed a bit and smiled. Our friend said, slowly and in a volume that caused other patrons to turn and stare 'IT IS NICE TO MEET YOU. WELCOME TO AMERICA. WELL-COME! I HOPE YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL VISIT." Again she spoke very slowly and extremely loud. The artist smiled again
    and said. "Thank you for your hospitality. You don't need to speak so slowly though, there is nothing wrong with my hearing."

  4. You can alway try Serbo-Croatian if you have an aversion to vowels.

  5. That is a great post. I too have extreme difficulty learning foreign languages. Of course, I'm also lazy in that particular area, seeing how Lucy speaks French so well. That gives me time to deal with the important things in life - like answering this post. I've lost count of the number of times a person shouts, to bolster their illusion that such action makes them more intelligible; or the way a French person insists that a word should be pronounced thus, when that is exactly how I pronounced it (at least I thought I did!).

  6. The fun is in all the mistakes we make and all the explanations we give and all the conversations which follow usually around a table with a glass of wine...

  7. Car terms are really difficult in French I find, you'd think they'd be pretty universal but they don't seem to bear any relation to their English equivalents. Doesn't help that I don't really understand them in English either!


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