Monday, October 24, 2011

I question whether English is my first (or native) language.

I was born in New York City. My parents were born in New York City. I grew up in an English speaking household. My father was adamant about using the language correctly. I went to NYC public schools back in the day when you got an exemplary education there. So why do you think I can not speak English correctly? Even my sentence structure sometimes seems awkward - as if I am translating from some other language into English.

All too often, and to my embarrassment, I mispronounce words. I put the stress on the wrong sil-lab-ile. Usually I stress the first syllable but there are exceptions to my own cockamamie rules of speech. Sometimes this turns it into another word altogether but mostly it makes me sound uneducated/ignorant or perhaps, a foreigner - someone whose first language is not English.

Then there are the words that I just mangle - switching letters or syllables. anarchy is always, on first utterance, arnachy. As a matter of fact as I was typing this I typed arnachy when I meant to type anarchy. So it's not just speaking - I can spell that same way I mispronounce. If I think very carefully about the word and pronounce it correctly in my head it will usually come out of my mouth correctly. That does slowdown my response time somewhat. The worst was in Sunday School when I had to recite something for a presentation and calvary came out cavalry. It always does - to this day. I have to make a point of saying "cal-va-ry" -very slowly or out of my mouth will pop "cavalry".

What's another good one? Ah - ignominy. There is no way I can say this correctly. It is supposed to sound like "IG-nuh-min-ee". My version? "ig-NOM-in-ee". I am looking at it typed in front of me right now and my brain is saying it wrong.

I have decided to attribute my mispronunciations to past lives bleeding through. In those past lives I most definitely spoke some language other than English, and perhaps it is only in my more recent lives, and obviously my current one, that English was my first language.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it...

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