The Chorale at Laroque. We’re limbering up for a Christmas concert, and for one of the numbers, I’ve been put in charge of Pronunciation Studies.
‘Amezzing gress, ’ow sweet zuh soond….’. Every week, we practise sticking out tongues between our teeth in a thoroughly exaggerated way to get that dreaded ‘th’ sound out of our mouths, but it’s so hard for the French to remember, even harder to do….
I’m not mocking here: I’m all too well aware how difficult it is for us English to get certain sounds right as we mangle the French language in our turn.
How can it be that we’re all born with the same vocal equipment and ears, and yet only a few short years after we first learn to speak, seem unable either to hear or reproduce the sounds and inflections of any other language? The ‘r’ sound is often especially problematical.
We have a young English friend here. She’s eight, and has been here since she was three. To our ears, she’s utterly French as she chatters away to her friends, but apparently, if you listen carefully, she gives her origins away. It’s lucky that most of us, wherever we come from, find that our own language spoken in a less-than-perfect accent can sound both charming, and on occasion, even sexy.