I am not trying to be a snob, but there are several mispronunciations that drive me crazy if I want to be honest. I never say anything to people. I put up with it, and if they are my students, I work with them to help them say it right. However, here are some examples:
English speakers are famous for mispronouncing everything in other languages. They can’t get it into their heads that other languages do no necessarily use the same phonics systems that English uses. In most every other language, the short “a” from English does not exists, but English speakers want to use it anyway. It also drives me crazy to hear English speakers when they are supposed to trill the “r,” but they use a plain English “r.”
Another system of pronunciation that ends up give people crazy accents is Korean. If Koreans don’t learn to lose their Korean accents in English, they end up sounding like babies. They also try to fit everything into the Korean alphabet (hangul) like English speakers do with the English alphabet, and it makes them literally sound like a two year old that can’t pronounce anything. For some reason, it is easier for me to take a Spanish, Romanian, or French accent in English because their accents just make them sound interesting.
When I first came to the southern part of the U. S., their drawl drove me crazy! They elongated every vowel. They dropped every final “g.” They called everyone “sweetie” or “honey,” or “y’all.” I realize that I was speaking with a British accent, but it just sounded more normal to me. I went to graduate school in Texas, and one of my professors said that people felt more comfortable if you learned to drop your final “g” when you spoke to them. I have thought a lot about it. I began school in England, and I feel more comfortable with what I initially heard, an English accent from England. I never quite heard my mother’s drawl until I got older. Maybe she didn’t talk to me much, but she brought my lunch to my school once. She poked her head in my sixth grade class saying she had brought my lunch, and I heard such a pronounced southern drawl, I was amazed! In fact, I was embarrassed. I thought she sounded uneducated. She used to say things like “warsh” for “wash,” and I couldn’t figure it out because there was no “r” in the word. If I had spent more time with American southerners when I was a child, I am sure I would have a different attitude. I can speak with an American southern accent, but when I do, I can only do it jokingly because it feels so crazy to me. Since I am American, I tried to lose my British accent, but people still tell me they hear it sometimes, and in college, my professors said I should be reading the news on TV with an accent like I have. I am comfortable with the way I speak, but I am not so sure others always are.
When I study a foreign language, I try hard to get the grammar right and pronounce everything the way they say it because I want to be understood. I am often mistaken for being from the country of the language I am speaking. I am told I have a Romanian region accent of the place I lived in Romania when I speak Romanian. I am studying the Bible with a group of Spanish speaking ladies right now all in Spanish, and last week, one of the ladies from Peru stopped me and said, “Where on earth are you from? I know you are Hispanic.” I spent a lot of time with Mexicans when I was in Texas, and I copied their way of speaking Spanish.
I studied French as a little girl when I attended an embassy school in French Morocco, and when I heard English speaking people mispronounce French, it drive me crazy because they try to say all the letters on the page. When you say “Monsieur,” it is not said the way it is written in English at all! They all want to pronounce that “n,” but I learned to speak French before I ever saw it written, and you never hear that “n” if you are saying it correctly. There are so many things like this that ring through my ears!
I probably sound to people like my oldest son sounds to me. Sometimes, people ask me to sing. They seem to like the sound of my voice. My oldest son has ears that don’t quit. He plays the guitar and the piano. He played the music on a recording that went 10th on the charts. His band won “Battle of the Bands,” he has written over 100 songs, and has a recording studio in his house. He pulled me aside once and said, “You know, these people may like to hear you sing, but every time you don’t hit a note just right, I hear it!” I felt like he was being a kind of snob, but I also understood him completely because I hear everything, and I feel it. I wasn’t upset by his remark at all. I understood him.