Speaking American and the Dance of Language

Speaking American and the Dance of Language

I came across a fun article on learning how to speak American. An excerpt:
…for the most part accents change unconsciously and imperceptibly like rocks polished to smoothness over millennia of tumbling in a riverbed. You land on a foreign shore speaking precise, clipped BBC English and then journey back years later to find yourself taken for a foreigner in your own hometown. Vocabulary, on the other hand, changes very quickly. Humiliation is a great teacher. In my first weeks in America I was always getting myself into embarrassing situations because I just didn’t know the correct words for things. Worse, I didn’t realize that the English words I used meant something quite different in the American language.
It shows how difficult even the dialect transition within a language can be, let alone the daunting prospect of learning a new one. Personally, having spent over four months in Spanish-speaking countries this year (Panama, Mexico and Spain), I find that while my ability to communicate has come a long, long way, I still have a tough time hearing what is being said to me in Spanish. Part of that is the dialect – Spanish is different in Central America, Mexico and Spain. The only solution seems to be, just do it. Dance the dance. Immerse yourself in the language, don’t be afraid of messing up, give it your best shot. Visiting Istanbul or Cappadocia? Learning and using ten words in Turkish will get you so much farther than relying solely on some awkward combination of English and pantomime. Eventually, you start to pick out words and hear phrases, and every day it gets a little more interesting. The dance of ordering food or standing at the bar or getting in line at the grocery store becomes a little more elegant, a little more integrated with the other people who did not choose you as a dance partner. Are you visiting a couple countries in the near future, and need a little language help? That’s what SpeakSheets is all about – we can help teach you to dance. (image h/t Inma)
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