Spanish – a hell of a surprise
Posted by Alexandre Rafalovitch on September 11, 2006
French and Esperanto are taking a bit of a long break. I am learning Spanish now. I heard that it was easier to start learning than the French (though of course not as easy as Esperanto). I was looking forward to it.
So, the first lesson was a bit of a shock. Turns out that when the language book talks about Spanish being phonetically regular and pronounced as written, they meant the regularity within one particular Spanish-speaking group. Maybe even regular just within that textbook. But between Spain, Argentina and couple of other places, the letter J apparently can be pronounced in about 7 different ways from russian й то russian ж. I have no idea how to tie these sounds to the English alphabet.
And then there is a ll letter. Not a double-l, but actually an ll letter. And it just happens to sound completely different from a single l. On the other hand, b and v are supposed to sound the same even though they are different letters in the language.
And the rolling-r‘s! I can’t roll my r‘s, but have been surviving without through Russian, English and bad French. But Spanish apparently has a difference between r and rr, the later of which may or may not be a special letter like ll. And since there has to be a difference in the sound, I might actually have to learn to roll my r‘s somehow. Suddenly I understood much better the plight of chinese and japanese people with English which -differently from their own language – actually has l and r as separate letters/sounds.
And finally the spanish for I is Yo! In USA (and in american movies), Yo is so engraved as a rough/street version of you, that it is really hard to now think that it refers to me instead.
On the other hand, the adjectives agrees in gender (and probably other things) with nouns. To me – with Russian and Esperanto experience – this was nearly a relief. I did not even blink at the suggestion that you could drop the pronoun if it was obvious from the gender-matching adjective. I could see some other people completely lost however.
All in all, I can already predict that Spanish will require a lot of relearning and readjusting. Hopefully, it is all worth it.
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