An alien experience

I’ve been in Canada for a year, and from time to time I still feel
very alien. Last night, I mispronounced “adolescence”. In moments of
inattention, I often forget how to pronounce words I already know,
because I just “read” them in my mind. Sometimes I try to use a word
I’ve never even heard someone else say. When this is brought to my
attention, I accept and remember the correction—but it’s difficult
for me to squelch that sudden feeling of insecurity, of feeling
different.

My accent grows thicker the longer I stay here—or is it just that I
notice it more? I pause more, gesture more, stumble over words more
than I remember doing. And yes, from time to time, I say things that
people don’t understand until I repeat myself or spell things out. It
distracts them from what I’m trying to say. (Although it does show
that they’re paying attention! =) )

One way to deal with this is to learn the phonetic alphabet and read
the dictionary. Computer-based dictionaries tend to not have
pronunciation guides. Web-based ones don’t let me flip through them
for random words, although I think I should scale back on that a bit
and focus more on great combinations of words. I sound too bookish
already.

The best thing to do, I suppose, is to listen. I need to listen to
more things. I need to listen to people with wide vocabularies and
well-expressed thoughts. I really should format that iPod or do some
other magic so that I can connect it to my laptop and make the most of
it.

I need to be exposed to the sound of other people’s voices. My media
diet is almost entirely print and web. I don’t watch television, and I
hardly listen to the radio. I should fix that at least with audiobooks
and podcasts.

And maybe I can pay more attention to the experience created by
sound… It takes a certain skill to form sentences that sound good. I
should learn that. It’ll be fun. =) Right, there’s something I need to
work on.

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