I have been learning English for years. I recall thinking that English is easier that French. I consider French as my first language, an imposed one but the only I dream in. Still I agree it is difficult. French is difficult, positively difficult. Beautiful but complicated to master and to use. Let’s say it differently: French grammar is difficult and mastering English pronunciation is a labor worthy of Hercules.
English grammar is easier, far easier. You only have to get acquainted with a few difficulties and that’s it. On the other hand, English pronunciation is hell on earth: five vowels and infinite ways of pronouncing them. I didn’t count. Then, you need to learn to pronounce the consonants, the single ones and the double one. You need to know how to say “r”, “sw”, “th”, “wr”, “gh” and so on, without forgetting there is a great chance that their pronunciation is different for each word you encounter. Then you have to add to them the vowels which have always unexpected sounds. And I am expected to speak English!
How to tell my friends that I have swum or that I swam when by an unwritten rule swum is almost pronounced like swam and swam almost like swum. Almost! That “almost” makes all the difference. I decided to show the white flag, to look for a way to have conversations without using confusing vowels and words with an “r”. Try if you can. Impossible! I couldn’t give up the struggle if I wanted to have a chance to discuss, talk and bond with human beings.
If it was only the “r”…
It is not the end of the world if people believe that my favorite distraction is working instead of walking, isn’t it? But there are also “ble” or “ple”at the end of words and all the rest. Moreover I need to find the good pronunciation while using the right rhythm, the right word, the right intonation and the right grammar. Even for a woman, it is a little too much.
And every time I think I have improved my pronunciation, I discover that people keep not understanding me, sometimes for my benefit, sometimes for my shame. After many mistakes, I can now correctly say the name of the street where I live and most of the times people don’t understand any longer than I am angry when I am only hungry. At least I hope: because besides swimming, I really enjoy eating.