Thursday, 25 November 2010

An English lesson for the English

Amongst the songs that the choir is learning this year, is one in the German language. As you will know, German is a very precise language. Amongst our number is a retired French lady who taught German in schools. I learned German for about 4 years in secondary school. I too know a bit about German pronunciation.
I sit silently while the choir leader tells us how to pronounce the words. He then sings them. Instantly all of the words lose their endings, becoming meaningless.
I say nothing. I sing the words putting in all the endings.
Over the last 3 weeks we have also begun to learn “Deep River”. This is written in English. I listen to the choir leader mangle the words. He is certain that he is pronouncing the words correctly. The result is unintelligible to any English speaker.
I stop singing as it is too painful. Eventually I am asked for my pronunciation of the words. I go over the words “eez” becomes is, “Dee Reeverr” becomes “Deep River” etc etc.
There are two people in the choir who are French but 1 who still teaches English in schools (a bass) and one a retired lady. The retired lady was not there that evening.
The following Monday there was a “women only practice”. On the Wednesday there was the usual “full choir” practice.
We plough through our songs, finally reaching the Deep River. We sing a bit, then some pronunciation clarification is sought.
I go over the words again. The male teacher tells me that I am pronouncing “Land” wrongly, it should be “Lend”. I assure him that it is pronounced land. He is convinced that I am wrong. So we now have the bass section singing “lend”. Personally I don’t go around telling French people how to pronounce French words, but the French have always been noted for always being right, or in other words they are never wrong.
At the end of the practice the female ex-English teacher took me to one side and asked me what I had been teaching the choir the previous Wednesday. I went through what I had said. Apparently there had been some dispute at the women only practice over how I had pronounced some of the words. People are convinced that I am pronouncing some of them incorrectly and have put it down to being Scottish pronunciation.
Just don’t get me started. Thank goodness they can pronounce English better than me.
No wonder the French children listen to English spoken by native Eengleesh speakers with complete incomprehension. What a stranje lend thees eeze! Bearing in mind that it was now nearly 11pm at night, I could not be arsed arguing about English. I said C used to be a German teacher, why isn’t she telling our leader that he is not pronouncing the German words correctly. The reply was that C had tried and been told by him that he spoke German and knew exactly how the words were pronounced...

Moi, à la fin de la journée, Je m’en fiche!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I know this is an old post, but I just came across it while searching for thoughts on French pronunciation. I liked what you wrote.


Feel free to send me your comments or suggestions