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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Spelling Demons

Mel Johnson

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How else do you say Quay - do you mean that people actually say Kway??




Jezz - this sounds like New Zealand to me (they call me Jum, and I hear announcements like "All pissengers go to Gate Sucks", etc.)


Or Australians say "Picaaarso" - I think they're trying to talk posh because its foreign.


But to keep it more on-topic, I cant think of any really embarrassingly-pronounced ballet terms as used here Except we dont even bother with dessous and dessus - its just over and under (if I have them the right way round), the French "u" being completely beyond everyone (including me).



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When Americans say "quay" at all, we say it "kee". Usually, we say "dock", even when it's a true quay or a wharf.

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I found the following article ....explains a lot ! :ermm:




'Babies who hear foreign speech pick up languages faster'

By Richard Gray

Last updated: 11:33 PM BST 10/05/2008

Babies who hear foreign speech in their first nine months of life find it easier to pick up languages in school or as adults, research has found.

But those who hear only English as babies are left unable to distinguish between subtly different sounds not used in their native language.

The findings will provide an excuse for British tourists who have struggled with foreign languages while travelling.

Psychologists at Bristol University found that the developing brain undergoes a period of "programming" in infancy which sets up for life its ability to recognise key sounds in whatever will become its native language.

This process helps the brain make sense of speech by filtering out sounds not used in the native language, but also makes it harder to recognise unfamiliar sounds from foreign languages.

Crucially, babies exposed to multiple languages during their first few months retain the ability to recognise sounds from all the languages they hear.

English speakers, for example, usually only recognise one "k" sound, but Irish Gaelic, Russian and Turkish speakers can differentiate between hard and soft "k" sounds, which produce different meanings in those languages.

Similarly, English speakers often struggle to hear the difference between the French "u" sounds in "loup" and "lu" despite the words having quite different meanings – wolf and the past participle of read.

Dr Nina Kazanina, an expert in linguistic psychology at Bristol, said: "When a baby is born, it has the capacity to distinguish every type of speech sound. Even if the parents are English, the baby has the capacity to distinguish Greek and Chinese vowel sounds.

"By six months an infant can only recognise vowels from its native language, and within another two or three months the same happens to consonant sounds. So within around nine to 10 months, a baby's universal language ability is reduced to its native language.

"This happens because the brain is trying to make sense of sounds used in speech in the context of the native language, and so applies a kind of filter to help make it easier to understand words."

Dr Kazanina has been using techniques that measure the levels and location of electrical activity in the brain in response to different speech sounds. She found that while Gaelic speakers generated two separate states of activity when listening to hard and soft "k" and "g" sounds, English speakers only generated a single state of activity to both sounds, as they were unable to detect the subtle differences.

"While this is useful for the native language," said Dr Kazanina, "it can have a rather sad effect when it comes to learning foreign languages. Foreign sounds are often categorised using the native language filter and can lead to misperception."

She believes this explains why English speakers struggle to learn French compared with Italian and Spanish speakers, who have more similar sounds in their native tongues.

But the effect can work in the opposite direction too. English speakers find it far easier to pronounce Russian vowels than Russians do English vowels because English has more vowel sounds, so those who speak it have a broader repertoire.

In a similar way, Japanese and Chinese speakers are unable to tell the difference between "r" and "l", so get them confused when speaking English.

Dr Kazanina added: "Languages such as German and Swedish probably share most sounds with English, and so will be relatively easy to learn, but you must remember other characteristics like grammar and sentence structure."

A separate study at the University of Washington has shown that speaking different languages to babies in their early lives can be crucial in helping them learn new languages later in life. Researchers found that babies who were spoken to in Chinese for just one hour a week found it easier to recognise Chinese speech when they were older.

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That article explains well why people who speak Dutch and Flemish in particular can learn to pronounce so many languages. We have so many different sounds in our language that we can learn to pronounce nearly any language properly.


Living in a country with 3 national languages probably helps too.

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I was glancing through a book about learning languages as an adult, and it mentioned that Dutch would be one of the easiest languages for an English-speaking person to learn, and that surprised me. The author suggested learning Dutch before tackling German.


I think the easiest, as far as pronunciation, is Spanish. What you see is what you say, in most cases.


I've also been reading about music and perfect pitch. Alas, I can't remember the exact wording, but what I remember from one book is the statement that one tends to find perfect pitch more often in Chinese- and Vietnamese-speaking children. This makes total sense to me, as those are languages that depend on pitch and intonation. You might think you're saying hello, but if you say it with the wrong pitch, you've just told someone their mother is a monkey (ok, totally made up, but you get the idea :shrug: ) If you've read "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver, you know what I mean. ("Tata Jesus is bangala!" :jawdrop: )


My grandaughter spends all day with a Spanish-speaking friend, and her first real word (after "uh-oh" and "wow") was "hola." We all fell down laughing because it was so stinkin' cute. My daughter was saying last night that when the baby babbles, she can tell she's babbling in Spanish because it sounds so different from other babies' babbling--the consonants are softer and she rolls her "r" slightly. And one day I gave her something and said, "Ponlo en la basura" and she toddled right over to the garbage can and dropped it in. We don't even tell her to sit down now, it's "sientate" (sorry, can't put in the accent marks.) Ah, this will be fun! She's already the most brilliant and adorable child ever :P and to know that the other language will make her even smarter, well....



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I was in Dublin and asked for directions, a Bus driver told me to go to "Connelly Key. " As a native noo yawkuh, I never heard of a Quay. Looking at my map, I found it, but took a few seconds to figgur out the pronunciation. I have heard of the Florida Keys, and assumed keys were Islands.


In old European cities, especially Dublin, a street can change names sever times. NYC too.


I was in NYC Friday and spent 30 minutes looking for 88 Pine Street in the Financial District. Pine Street abruptly ends at a park and continues on the other side of the park. Big wall of a water fountain in the way, blocking the view of the continuation of the street. Building facing the park is 88 pine, but has no entrance on Pine Street or the park. Building entrance is on Water street so taxis and Limos can drop people off. Sign saying 88 pine is on the opposite side of the building!



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Well, I have a Dutch friend, and she speaks fluent English, and German ; her French is nearly fluent as well. Dutch is really very close to both German and English, and many words come from those languages as well.

For me, being French, I'm quite fluent in English, and I've learnt German in high school and did a bit afterwards too, and I can understand Dutch because of that ! :devil:

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