Friday, April 23, 2010

Learning to speak

Shanna among the mums when she was 9. They didn't have girls' soccer teams in her day so she and her friend played with the boys. It is hard to believe this cute little girl has her own 2 boys.
Me earlier the same year amongst the clematis. This flower is perfect for me as it needs little care.

In one of our cars, I have loaded the 6 slots in the CD player with Italian tapes so that I can listen to them as I drive. The ones currently in it aren't designed to be used in a car but I listen to the dialogs and see if I can understand what they are talking about. They ask questions but don't give me enough time to respond. I have a very poor memory for sounds. I still mispronounce beginning Italian words not to mention English ones.
Tongue-twisters in the past for me: statistical, diastereomeric, glomerular,enantiomers, amination vs animation (one being a common chemical transformation), phthlatic, etc. Of course most of those words I needed to use every day at work so I practiced, practiced, practiced so I wouldn't routinely embarass myself though this disability I have seems to be fairly common amongst chemists. One woman I worked with was unable to pronouce the tropical disease she worked on. When I was irritated with her, I'd ask what is the name of your project (of course I knew and it was something I could pronounce) just to hear her stumble.
Despite being brighter than the average bear, I had delayed speech. My mom had the disability worse than me without any compensatory mechanisms. She hesitated before every word she said trying to remember how it was pronounced as if she were speaking a foreign language. She quickly lost her speech when she had Alzheimers'. Her future mother-in-law, my dad's mom, was a language expert and appalled with my mother's lack of education. She figured if she knew a foreign language, it would be a good start and footed the bill for my mom to go to college. Of course this didn't work out as my mom was barely fluent in English much less learning to pronounce another language.
So this 'disfluency' seems to be genetic. My girls were fine, even Naomi with all her other disabilities is an excellent mimic. Josh however spoke his own language. The year before he went to kindergarten, I hauled him off to a speech pathologist. Despite his superior motor skills (he was a very good athlete), he had absolutely no control over his tongue nor any idea where to put it when forming sounds. Fortunately he was coachable. He is asked to speak before groups quite often at work so it isn't readily apparent that speaking once was difficult.
Now Oliver is having difficulty forming words and gets the aid of a speech pathologist. She has taught him sign language-fine if everyone knows sign language too. It is easier for him to control his hands and fingers than to use his mouth. Although only two, he can identify every letter in the alphabet and even tell you what word starts with it but he can't put two words together with distinctly different sounds nor can he repeat words with more than one syllable. I am thinking that he has no control of that tongue and has a poor memory of how things actually sound. He has a good memory about many other things especially his favorite subject: trucks-all kinds of trucks.
Our neighborhood is a melting pot of many cultures. I was amazed how quickly young children learned English. Some of them went from not knowing a word to flawless, accentless English within 6 months while their parents struggled. Julia moved to Zurich when she was 7 and quickly learned Swiss German translating for her parents who struggled to learn it. She said that even though she was there for 3 years, she has forgotten it all.
So many Europeans juggle 2 or more languages, I figure there should be no reason why I can't too. Did just the language impaired immigrate to the US? To make room for Italian, I seemed to erase all the Spanish I learned. I can read German (only scientific though) and know a bit of French. I am trying.


Teri Bernstein said...

Tu parle francais muy bueno, bella. :-)

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Maitre Courbeau sur une arbre perche...tenait en son bec uno queso.
Presto! Pronto! Prego!


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