Thursday, 13 October 2011

The most difficult subject I have ever studied

This course might be  beyond me. We are studying Spoken English and half the time I have no idea what they are trying to teach us. It is all about the International Phonetic Alphabet - which is not too difficult - but about the shapes the mouth makes when it makes the different consonant and vowel sounds. My mouth does not seem to do the right things. And there is a lot of stuff about 'release' and 'stops', which goes right over my head. I have seriously thought about giving up.

I am OK when they apply the concepts practically. For example, they pointed out that Northeners say 'bath' with a short 'a', Southerners say it with a long 'a', but people (like me) who have started off in the North of England and then either travelled about or mixed with a lot of different people seem to say it somewhere in between. We don't want to appear too Northern but the full-on long 'a' is a step too far. I'd never worked it out like that but that is exactly what I do. It's little gems like that which make me realise that I am interested after all.

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