Is English Pronunciation Really That Hard?
Yes, it is! Just ask Ricky Ricardo. He will demonstrate to you the many pitfalls of English pronunciation here! I am a big fan of ‘I Love Lucy’ and I have watched this clip many times and I still laugh so hard every time I see it.
It is funny but also very true at the same time. I envision our English students here at the Center for New Americans when they try to sound out new words or try to remember the pronunciation of words we studied the day before. “English is hard, teacher. It is very hard.”
Spelling and pronunciation don’t seem to be in sync as nicely as in other languages; the same syllable has several different pronunciations depending on its position within the word. There are many rules how a letter or combination of letters should be pronounced, but then there are just as many exceptions. And for someone who is just starting out to learn English neither one is very helpful. We all remember the rule, ‘I’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ – but what if “your foreign neighbor Keith receives eight counterfeit sleighs from feisty caffeinated weightlifters?” Weird. Right? Today I read a book; yesterday I read a book.
“A farm can produce produce. The dump was so full it had to refuse refuse. The soldier decided to desert in the desert. The wind was too strong to wind the sail. I shed a tear when I saw the tear in my clothes. The insurance for the invalid was invalid. The bandage was wound around the wound. “ (author unknown)
I think you have to admit that you struggled a little with some of these sentences before you came up with the correct pronunciation. Didn’t you? I sure did. Stay tuned for more craziness in the English language.
Silke Hansen | LSS Center for New Americans
ESL Instructor and Interpreter
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
605-731-2041 direct | 1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax