Friday, 07 March 2008


Ever since we did Pygmalion in Standard Eight, I have been fascinated with accents and pronunciation in general. I admit that Mine is not always the greatest, and my Irish accent sound like a Scotsman with an identity crisis, but I still like the subject

In the TEFL course I am busy with, I have just started the module on Pronunciation.

In this module I have picked up a few interesting things that I already knew, but had forgotten about. As Afrikaans is a Germanic language, just like English, many of these comments are directly applicable to it, although the crazy spelling is not an issue.

Stress, as in, the word in a sentence that is stressed, can change the meaning of a sentence completely. In this example we will use “He didn’t mean to kick that dog”. Out of context the sentence can mean anything, but as an isolated sentence, placing stress on a particular word can completely change the meaning.

He didn’t mean to kick that dog.
(Someone else meant to kick the dog.)

He didn’t mean to kick that dog.
(Contradicting someone in an argument.)

He didn’t mean to kick that dog.
(He kicked it accidentally.)

He didn’t mean to kick that dog.
(He meant to do something else to it)

He didn’t mean to kick that dog.
(He meant to kick another dog.)

He didn’t mean to kick that dog..
(He meant to kick something else nearby.)

Isn’t language fun? I wonder if Korean has the same thing.

To point out the craziness that is English Spelling I will include a poem that is attributed to George Bernard Shaw. He is, incidentally, the same man who wrote Pygmalion.

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.
Well done! And now you wish perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead, it's said like bed, not bead-
for goodness' sake don't call it 'deed'!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth, or brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there's doze and rose and lose-
Just look them up- and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart-
Come, I've hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I'd learned to speak it when I was five!
And yet to write it, the more I sigh,
I'll not learn how 'til the day I die.

1 comment:

-Dian Devline- said...

hmmmmmmm... really compicated.. but interesting... pheewwwssss.... !!