I don’t know about you, but every once in a while I thank my lucky stars that I grew up speaking English. Not because it’s the best language, and trust me I wish I had grown up multilingual like some lucky folks, but I’m grateful that at least I speak English because it strikes me as incredibly difficult to learn.
Part of that difficulty comes from the fact that English is, as one author put it, a “magnificent bastard tongue.” I once read that as much as 60% of English is borrowed from non-English sources. English is technically a Germanic language, and if you check out this post from earlier you can hear the similarities with our nearest neighbor on the Germanic branch, but what we speak today is so full of Latin, French, Spanish, Greek, and on and on that it seems to me a second-language learner of English must possess an incredible faculty for learning all sorts of different structures and pronunciation patterns.
Which is probably why The Pronunciation Manual is so hilarious. I discovered this last week and I don’t know how I lived without it. I would explain it to you, but I think Ellen does a fine job introducing it:
Seriously, how many of us, even native English speakers, have gotten tongue-tied at the word schadenfreude
and how many times have you heard normally eloquent speakers mispronounce chipotle?
Once I stopped laughing uncontrollably and wiped the tears from my eyes, I then discovered another great thing about these videos: people who don’t get it! I can be
neurotic exacting about grammar and pronunciation myself, but I do understand absurdity for humor’s sake, and I love that there are people who simply must insist that that is NOT how you pronounce that word!
Please enjoy the videos, take some time to laugh at yourself for the terrible way you mispronounce words we took from French, and appreciate nonnative English speakers for the daunting task they take on.