Agustina A. B.

Tag: british english

How Hard to Speak English

by on Apr.14, 2015, under Education, Life Story, My Point of View

Once upon a time, in an early morning, like really early, at 8 AM actually (I know, it’s not early enough for Indonesian), I was going to go to Canterbury. I arrived in a tiny station, called Waterloo East. It is too tiny, even it does not have information board as big as in Waterloo for example. The problem was that Canterbury West, my destination, is not the last destination. I don’t have time to wait for the running text to show all calling points. So I asked the information desk.

“Excuse me, which platform is to Canterbury?”

“Glastonbury? 8O” (It’s not even in South East England, not served by Southeastern Train so she was quite shock)


“Oh, platform 3”

Like really? I know my pronunciation, especially the tone, is terrible but Canterbury is not a tricky word. It’s pretty straightforward. I have a huge problem to mention the place where I live. I live in Southwark, which is pronounced as /ˈsʌðərk/ SUDH-ərk (that’s what Wikipedia says, try Google if you’re not sure). So I never say I live in Southwark. I prefer to say that I live in London Bridge, which is actually not a name of a region. If you come to my university, there is a nice library named Maughan. It’s called /mɒn/ but I what I hear is like mourn. Other tricky things is like Greenwich, Woolwich, Chiswick, you don’t want to pronounce the w if you want to be recognized. Place like Birmingham, Nottingham, Durham, you don’t pronounce ham clearly, so it’s like Birmingem, Nottingem, Durem. However, Tottenham is different. Do Google it, because I was not really sure as well. The thing is, do search in Google how to pronounce a place if you want to go there. Just in case your Google Maps doesn’t work, you can still ask people. I remember I was almost lost in my very first day in London just because I can’t pronounce the road where I supposed to live correctly.

However, I’ve experienced something worst. I complained about lamp in my residence that did not work. They didn’t know what I’m talking about. “Your what”, they said. In my language, there is no word that ends with two consonant in the end, except ng. So, I never pronounce e.g. p in lamp, d in friend, something like that. For the first time, I needed few minutes to explain, plus some body language because I didn’t know what the case was. In the second complain, when they asked what it was, I just repeated lamp with very strong p behind the word. It did work.

The most pathetic was when I said guard. I have thick Javanese accent so when I say guard, the g will be very thick. My friend couldn’t recognize. I spelled it but it didn’t work as well. So I needed to elaborate in a paragraph just to say a very usual word.

I do have problems but it is a fun thing. I come here to learn. Once my friend (not Indonesian) said “I like your accent”, I was so happy. That was the first time a person said that to me, Indonesian will never say that because my accent is too thick. But actually, my friend said that because when I speak, I also use body language just in case people don’t understand. I never do that back home and now I do it even when I’m unintentional. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t like because it is too funny to be done.

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