Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Whelming-ness of English:



If you have read this book–then the the title of this post, 'the whelming-ness of english', might give you a little chuckle. If not, no worries–Bill Bryson probably did not mean for it to be as funny as I happened to find it. But that's just my quirky sense of humor. If you have not read this book, you should. You will leaning over, holding your side, in laughter. Never has a language book amused so much, and so well, from first page to last. On that note, one of my favorite things to do online is discover new words. When I stumble across a word I don't know, somewhere online, I immediately throw it in the Dictionary.com. Here's four fun new words I discovered today:

tac⋅i⋅turn
 -adjective
1.
inclined to silence; reserved in speech; reluctant to join in conversation.

an⋅thro⋅po⋅mor⋅phic
  –adjective
1.
ascribing human form or attributes to a being or thing not human, esp. to a deity.

di⋅ver⋅gent
–adjective
1.
diverging; differing; deviating.

pro⋅di⋅gious
–adjective
1.
extraordinary in size, amount, extent, degree, force, etc.: a prodigious research grant.

The English language is so flowery. And I love that. Now, it's time to adopt a love of the Dutch language. Soon enough; soon enough.

The above street name, is pronounced (in Dutch), nothing like what a native English speaker might think. At first, it sort of looks like English. The letters are all there. Just arranged slightly different than in English, giving native English speakers a bit more self confidence than they should have when it comes to Dutch. (Which could be considered a good or bad thing). All this makes the whole situation seem do-able. But no. In Dutch this is pronounced, as spelled phonetically for a native English speaker, something like this: Air-sta (sta rhymes with 'duh') (Eerste); Hoo-HO (as in Santa: Ho-Ho-Ho) (Hugo) Duh (de); Grow-tuh (push your tongue up to the roof of your mouth, and then push the T out; for the T, that is) (Groot); Straught (Straat); All together now: Air-sta-Hoo-Ho-Duh-Grow-t-Straught! Luckily I've been here long enough, now, that I can read street names, and say them out loud in Dutch without thinking about it. Though I'm sure my inflections and pronunciations are a bit off. Lessons are to come. I've been spending some time getting to know Koningsplein, these days, in Amsterdam. And, I can happily say, that the return of spring is near.