My first voice message

Hello, my name is Gabriela. As I found a chat pack under my Christmas tree, now, I can record my voice message for you. I would like to tell you something about myself. I come from Slovakia, a small country which is situated in central Europe. I am 26 years old. I am married and I have two children. Nowadays, I am on maternity leave but before, I worked at purchasing department. As for my hobbies, I like reading, knitting, cooking. As for my spare time, all day long, I devote to my children. When they are asleep I learn English using your web site I spend one to two hours a day by learning English following all your instructions involving listening, tests, speaking (to myself :slight_smile: only, as I have nobody to talk to in English)…I have been learning English for more than 17 years and I must admit that your web site helped me a lot to improve my language skills. What ´s a pity I did not know your web site three years ago when I was studying for the exams with national standard. But fortunately, I succeeded in it. In this way, I would like to ask what you think about my grammar and pronunciation. I know that there may be some mistakes so I recorded this message to help me imrove my English. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Gabino, mluvíte plynule a dost srozumitelně a jenom občas máte problém s vyslovnosti a někdy používáte dlouhý výrazy, které se učí na Slovensku místo kratší výrazy, které používáme my rodilí mluvčí.

První problém, který jsem spatřil je vyslovnost slova “Slovakia”. Na Slovensku se učí vyslovnost [slovækia], ale nejběžnější vyslovnost toho jména je [slovakia]. Takže [a] a ne [æ]. Říká [slovækia] jen málokdo.

Druhý problém je, že jste napsala frazi “which is situated”. Jako rodilí mluvčí angličtiny bychom neřekli “a small country which is situated in Central Europe”, ale spíš “a small country in Central Europe”. Ve vychodní Evropě se stále a stále učí, že všechno, co se někde nachází “is situated”, ale v Anglii a Americe říkáme skoro vždycky jenom “is”.

Rodilý Američán se statnici z češtiny

Hello Jamie, thank you for your answer and advice. I wanted my first voice message to be so perfect that I made such stupid mistakes. I didn´t use short forms because in Slovakia, we are taught that using long forms is more polite. As for the pronunciation of Slovakia, you are also right. We pronounce this word with [æ], by the way, you can find this pronunciation in several dictionaries. As we are learning literary English, it is the same with the phrase “which is situated”. Originally, I wrote the sentence without this phrase, as you did but finally, I changed my mind and wrote the sentence with this phrase. As I have already written…I wanted my voice message to be perfect. But sometimes less is more :slight_smile: By the way, your Czech is really good. Have you ever been to Czech republic? Or did you study for the state exams from the USA?

Gabika, in English it’s usually best to pronounce the names of foreign countries, or foreign words themselves, as closely to the original pronunciation as English allows. In Slovak, the word “Slovák” has the vowel [a] in it, so we pronounce it with [a], not with [æ]. There is a tendency among some of the British to mangle foreign words and pronounce them as if they were reading English orthography, but that’s not the best way to go. The majority of the native English would pronounce the name [sloʊvakia], and that’s also what my Oxford dictionary of British English calls for. (We would only say [oʊ] because English has no [o] sound.)

One of my favorite mispronunciations in your part of the world is the way people say “Chicago”. They claim that the correct “American” way to pronounce it is [tʃɪkæɡo], but in fact the correct pronunciation is [ʃɪkaɡo] and NO ONE EVER says [tʃɪkæɡo]. I had never heard [tʃɪkæɡo] before I went to the Czech Republic, and I have never heard it since I have come home – and my family has spent a lot of time in that city.

In Eastern Europe there’s a tendency to think that longer sentences are more polite, but just the opposite is true in English. It is more polite to keep things as short and clear as possible, which means eliminating all those needless words like “which is situated”, etc. In fact, using or not using a phrase like that has no bearing on the politeness of a message, so it’s best to keep it short. When we take writing classes in high school or at a university, we spend most of our time cutting and cutting to make our sentences simpler and the composition shorter. I’ve never had a writing instructor tell me to add words. They also tell us to break up long sentences. A formal document that’s well translated from Slovak into English is usually about 25 percent shorter than the original, even though it contains the same information.

We don’t have state language exams in the US, so I definitely didn’t learn my Czech here. I worked for three years in one of the west Bohemian spa towns where almost nobody could speak English at the time. I taught myself Czech without taking any lessons, and I passed my “statnice” a few months before I moved back home.