I pronounce some words in the strangest ways. I come from a small town in downstate New York, but it is NOT New York City. It is a small little town that isn’t even a town, it is a village. I grew up in this town and have lived there my whole life, I have never lived anywhere else. So why do I speak so differently from everyone?
My mom grew up in Long Island, Bay Shore to be exact. She spent her childhood out there and only moved away in her Freshman year of high school. My mom no longer has the famous Long Island accent, but I do.
Since as long as I can remember, people have always asked me to repeat words and assuming they didn’t hear me, I repeat what I said. They then ask me this THREE more times before I realize they are making fun of me. I say simple words different, such as awesome, chocolate, sauce, dog, and coffee. I add an |AW| sound to each word, so I say dAWg, chAWcolate, and cAWffee. I say syrup and cereal odd as well, sIRup, SIReal. You get the idea, I talk (tAWlk) funny.
So now you’re probably thinking “so what? Why do I care that you talk weird?”. Well let me tell you, just because I pronounce words differently, does not mean you don’t understand what I’m saying. You still understand when I say I’d like some syrup with my pancakes, or I’d like some cereal for breakfast. Just like when someone is sounding out a word or pronounces it wrong, you still get an idea of what they are trying to say.
Zone One has a lot, and I mean A LOT of words I have never heard in my life. When reading this I felt like I spent a little less than half my time looking up what these words meant. As an exercise in class, we had to find a word that we didn’t know and look it up and share the definition with the class then Professor McCoy would write it on the whiteboard. A lot of these words were words that classmates had never seen or heard. We all had to sound out some words or even just spell them out for Professor McCoy to tell us the word.
While we were doing this activity it was interesting to see the words that some people didn’t know that I knew just because of where I came from and because of my major. Zone One had some organism names in the book that I never would have heard about otherwise. One of these words was “spirochete”. This is a bacteria that causes diseases like Lymes disease and syphilis. Without reading this book, and looking this up I would not have known what this was. However, the biology majors in the class knew or had at least heard of this.
Different backgrounds and places of origin can determine things like the different words we know and the way that we speak. Just like when we were doing our in-class activity, everyone’s different educational backgrounds and the different places everyone came from added to our class discussion. We all learned new words and definitions that we might not have otherwise known.
While we were trying to sound out these words out, no matter how badly we butchered them, Professor McCoy still knew what we were trying to say. Just like no matter how strangely I say certain words, people will always know what I am trying to say.