Monday, April 28, 2008

Linguistic dyslexia?

Conversation outside the Harvard Coop restroom
Korean Lady 1: Do you know what the weather forecast is like?
American Lady 2: Weather phorcast? Oh you mean weather FFORECAISTT, I think it will rain till wednesday.

(Don't worry this post is not a cribby one on the perennially rainy weather in new england)

Here's what I found interesting about this inane conversation between two strangers from different parts of the world and linguistic scales. I could hear no difference in the way they both pronounced the word "forecast" but evidently American lady 2 did. I have a friend who keeps telling me I have an Indian way of pronouncing "F" which apparently sounds like a "Ph" .. but however hard I try to accept my linguistic disability, I cannot. Ofcourse, that has a lot to do with my unwavering belief that North Americans are linguistically dyslexic. It takes most of them forever to hear the difference between "T" and "TH", they get all panicky when they have to say out loud combinations of letters that sound unfamiliar (like the "mr" in amrit, and "tya" in aditya, and "tri" in gayatri) I once died of hysteria when my very white yoga teacher tried out a sanskrit chant: 
Asato Ma Sat Gamaya

Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.

which means:

Lead Us From the Unreal To Real,
Lead Us From Darkness To Light,
Lead Us From Death To Immortality,

Let There Be Peace Peace Peace.

I think the only one she got right was the inconsequential 'Ma'. But in spite of our linguistic superiority (actually linguistic may be the wrong word, but you get what i mean), why can't I tell the difference between Ph and F?? 


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