Monday, July 28, 2008

Listen! Can't you hear that!?

I cannot hear the difference between ć and ć in Bosnian. They both sound something like "che" or "cha"

It is the bane of the teacher working on my hideous pronunciation that this is so and that I am also sloppy with š and ž which to him sound so strongly like sh and ts ??? that he is forever hissing them at me like a snake trying to make me hear. I can sometimes hit approximately the right sound if I concentrate and speak slowly, but then there is also a maddening Bosnian tendency to herd those letters with marks together into such scary looking words as sišmiš and džeparoš or ražnjići.

My teacher is also forever holding his head and slapping his forehead at the sound of me.

Ah but turnaround is fair play. This past week I spoke to one of his English classes -- in English. I told a story and then he said to them. "OK, now tell me three things Rose told you she did in Montenegro."

"Free things?" they puzzled.

"Yes, three things," he said.

"Ahem," I interrupted. " I believe they are hearing FREE when you are saying THREE. fffff and the-the-the," I differentiated, sounding something like a stuttering fish. "Cant you hear the difference?"

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