Sounds mysterious

Aha, I knew it! Well, I didn't or I wouldn't have had to look it up. What I did know was that the speaker's accent had vowels that sounded very 'pure' English, but a 'softness' that sounded Kiwi. Ella Morton is a New Zealand-born, Australian-raised, Brooklyn-based writer.

That doesn't account for the 'pure' vowels, but I was satisfied about the Kiwi connection.

All my life I've had a fascination with words, with language, the sounds of words and languages. As I listen to podcasts and the like I sometimes hear an 'odd' pronunciation or stress or inflection. It stops me paying attention to the next part as I savour the sound, roll it around in my mind, try hearing the word that way and this way and my way, comparing, contrasting, assessing.

And always, always, I'm amazed at the infinite variety in the ways we humans express ourselves with language, the myriad distinct ways of pronouncing the 'same' sound, or the difficulty of certain sounds made adjacent, or at the start of a word rather than the middle or end.

Today I heard someone pronounce the word athlete as ath-e-lete. I guess the 'thl' combination is tricky for them. In English I have no trouble pronouncing the 'ng' in the middle of the word 'singer'. Put it at the start of a Māori word such as ngā though and I stumble.

The sounds of language are endlessly interesting!

Miraz Jordan @Miraz

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