20 March 2007

Dutch Pronunciation

Oh, there was a wonderful moment this noon.

Rafaël is visiting Amsterdam for a couple of days and staying with Rina, and they decided to take advantage of this opportunity and Skype me on her computer, which she has set to speaker mode. So I got to talk to both of them at once.

During the conversation, I was using as much Dutch as possible since I’m in major language study mode now, and besides, I managed to entertain them with a few of my creative coinages. But that’s not why I’m writing.

I have bragged a bit here and there about having finally more or less mastered a couple of the difficult Dutch phonemes, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. At one point, my pronunciation of a word was so egregious that for the first time in the conversation, they both interrupted to correct me.

Luckily, they didn’t speak exactly simultaneously, so I was able to hear quite clearly that, Rafaël being from way over on the eastern border and Rina from Amsterdam in the west, they were saying the offending word very, very differently.

So then I was off the hook because they turned on each other.

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A Taxonomy of Motor Vehicles

On a recent trip to southern California, I whiled away those hours on I-5 in the Central Valley by examining the names of the other vehicles. I found the connotations in these names highly entertaining, but lest I be accused of casting stones from a vulnerable location, I’ll admit that the name of my own vehicle, the Prius, suggests nothing to me more than it does insect genitalia.

And OK, I’m throwing in a few not yet seen, but you can pick the real ones.

Aviator, Bombardier, Commander, Gunner, Mariner, Navigator, Pilot.

Cavalcade, Excursion, Expedition, Iliad, Odyssey, Quest, Saga.

Caliber, Crossfire, Cartridge, Gatling, Magnum, Nitro, Revolver.

Braggadocio, Bravada, Elan, Poise, Verve.

Decoupage, Entourage, Frottage, Sabotage, Sportage.

Armada, Carrier, Cruiser, Cutter, Destroyer, Fleet, Galleon.

Avalanche, Lahar, Rockslide, Torrent, Tsunami.

Chinook, Foehn, Hurricane, Mistral, Sirocco, Tornado, Typhoon, Zephyr.

Denali, Niagra, Rainier, Sequoia, Sierra, Tahoe, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Yukon.

Cinnabar, Cobalt, Mauve, Puce, Sienna, Taupe.

Jupiter, Mercury, Neptune, Saturn, Titan, Uranus.

Arrow, Dart, Javelin, Kris, Lance, Scimitar, Spear, Tomahawk.

Barracuda, Orca, Pike, Shark, Sting Ray, Trout.

Bushwhacker, Deerslayer, Explorer, Forester, Mountaineer, Pathfinder, Ranger, Raider, Trailblazer.

Apache, Cherokee, Comanche, Karankawa, Mohican, Sioux.

Highlander, Inlander, Lowlander, Outlander, Uplander.

Bruiser, Crusader, Crusher, Eviscerator, Shredder.

Inquisitor, Interrogator, Investigator, Terminator.

And OK, while I was down there I took a few pics I liked. Here’s an early morning flower bed shot in front of the public library:


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